You know that sad Sunday night feeling you’d get when you knew the next day you’d be back in school? I’ve got that feeling right now. ~ Lexie Littleton, Leatherheads
So, it’s finally here: the last night of summer vacation. Tomorrow it’s back to the grind that is nursing school. And the last semester at that. I don’t dislike school, but I still find myself with that sad Sunday night feeling, despite the fact that it’s Monday night.
In honor of the age old classic back-to-school essay, this post is essentially: How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
This was me, post finals. Elated to have passed my third semester nursing school. Completely tired of studying and ready for some downtime. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this summer but I knew it would be an atypical one with no family beach trip in sight.
Initially my summer was a haze of recuperation from a grueling semester. It was Netflix, BBC TV shows, and sleeping in until nine. Doing nothing except little things around the house. But as my brain cells begin to regenerate I found myself praying: I need a plot twist- good or bad- something to jump start my life. That sounds terrible. But I’m so tired of being this lesser version of me. This echo, shadow self. She’s a lot like me just dull and far more muted. She’s not shiny or light-hearted. She deflects too much and stays too closed off in a deceptively-open-kind-of-way. But I want to let people in. I want to set myself up for a win. I want it to be okay to want a win. To have a heart so full I might as well have two. [ . . .] Introduce some new characters. Give me a cliffhanger or two and some adventure to boot.
Then, my baby brother graduated. I kept feeling stunned that eight years had passed since my own. And as we celebrated him I couldn’t have been prouder!
In June, my grandparents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary so we trekked up to Ohio/Indiana to celebrate.
How cute are they? It was good to spend time with my mom’s family. It was even better to hang out with my cousins. I am the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family. My oldest cousin turned eighteen last December. I’ll be in my forties when the youngest one graduates. Truly terrifying. That being said it’s so nice to be at family functions where I’m no longer the babysitter. It’s nice to have common ground. To hang out and talk about life. We played an epic game of Mafia in the basement and stayed up too late.
The summer ambled on. We sent some dear friends off to start a new journey of missions and seminary. I started going to a new church. I felt my heart slowly opening back up in that painful, noisy, creaking way things that have been shut up for too long open. It’s was such a strange, sweet, stretching summer. Some parts of it were truly hard and heart-wrenching. But even those bits have helped me grow.
I spent the Fourth of July weekend in Florence, Alabama with a fantastic group of people. It poured all day long, and then, just as we were wondering if it would be a wash out this happened:,
Best sunset of my summer, hands down. We watched fireworks explode over the river. We sang songs around the piano. We played nerdy board games that put Monopoly and Life to shame. I received A Schooling in Kindness. I made friends with a very unusual cat.
I spent the afternoon daring to hope and enjoying this view:
I was downright spoiled my this weekend excursion. It was nothing short of a gift. I know that this is one of those moments when my decision to say yes to the invitation played a significant part in the rest of the summer. Somehow I suspect it will effect much more than that.
What is it about the Fourth of July that causes the summer to kick into high gear? I feel like everything leading up to that point was slow and steady; everything after is a blur.
There were lunches/coffees/breakfasts/dinners with people I hadn’t seen face-to-face in too long. I started writing this little blog. I read and read some more. There were TV marathons with Jordan because I hooked him on the drug that is Doctor Who and Sherlock.
I went to Wine and Easel in Nashville with a couple friends. We painted owls. It was a lot of fun. I was able to get outside my head, which was great. Compared to where it started (I may or may not have upset my pallet and dumped paint all over my dress) the final project turned out half-decent. Mine’s the one in the middle (It now resides in a UTC dorm room.)
There was a “game” night that I couldn’t have been happier to be invited to because I got to spend more time with this group of friends, old and new, from the Fourth. So much laughter, so much fun. I’ve grown to love these people so much.
I spent some quality time with my family. We went to movies- one of our favorite pastimes. There was a brief moment when all six of us were under the same roof- a lot rarer these days. I had missed Zack heaps, so it was nice to see him back in Tennessee.
I occasionally soaked up some sun at the pool. I started running again. Slow and steady, but bit by bit loving it all over again. I chilled with my dogs.
And then the inevitable happened. The summer started to wind down, which meant one of my least favorite things: the goodbyes.
My Bookend left to go to college. Seriously, how can he be old enough to go? Not the kid I carried around in my arms, whose drool I wore on every shirt. No, he’s still that little kid that hissed at my friends and kicked any boy that got too close. He’s the cutie with the big blue eyes singing, “I love YOU always forEVER near or FAR closer toGETHER everywhere I with be with YOU everything I will do for YOU.” He’s the awkward tween I dragged with me to Harry Potter movies and convinced to read books, even though he’d much rather be playing video games. And yet, there he is high school graduate, math genius, towering over me with more talent in his pinky than I have in my whole body. And he’s getting ready to walk out the door. So, I help teach him to do laundry and try not to give him too much unsolicited advice. He’s my brother so there are things I won’t miss like his mountains of clothes that pile up or his moody eighteen-year-old ways. But he’s my brother so I’ll miss even those things. And somehow based on the note he left me on his white board that I’d spent the summer decorating, I suspect maybe he’ll miss me too. Way to make me cry, crazy kid.
There was a goodbye lunch a Martin’s BBQ in Nolensville (seriously delicious food). I had a love/hate relationship with this event. I loved being there and I hated why we were having it. Saying goodbye to an old friend is always hard. But this was a new one which made saying goodbye feel unfair. But I’ve never met anyone more welcoming and he’s just great, so, I hope his new adventure is everything he needs it to be.
Then, there was one last hurrah:
We watch the season pull up its own stakes
And catch the last weekend of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced,
Another sun soaked season fades away
~ Dashboard Confessional “Stolen”
One last road trip, one last friend’s weekend. We traveled up to St. Louis to visit my oldest, best friend and her sweet husband. The car trip up was so memorable. I laughed more than I thought I would.
It was a whirlwind of a weekend. We walked a heck of a lot. We ate food that made our souls happy. I got to know people a lot better. We absolutely melted at the Braves/Cards game. I mean look at this glaring sun:
The game’s outcome was not to the majority’s liking, but a trip to City Museum cured all woes. Seriously, one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Unlike the average museum, this is more of an artist’s version of a man-sized jungle gym. I was instructed to be as ADD as possible. It was great advice. I decided to climb things I might normally avoid, even if it meant getting down on my hand and knees. I went down the ten-story slide. I explored the nooks and crannies. I made the five-year-old me very happy. I was braver than I sometimes am. There was so much we didn’t even make it to see. If you’re in the neighborhood, you should definitely make a visit.
I remember as a kid that the most memorable days usually involved scrapped knees. This one was no exception:
I’m guessing my legs will look spectacular once the yellow-green color kicks into high gear.
We made our way to the cars and gratefully sat down. We returned to the house, grimy as can be, but so happy. The next day we ate the best brunch and just enjoyed those last moments before getting back on the road. It was a truly great weekend in STL.
I was thinking about goodbyes on the much quieter ride home. I remember being eighteen, sitting in the back of that same Ford Explorer I rode around in that weekend, wondering how to say goodbye. How do you say goodbye to your best friend? Sure, she was just going down the road to Belmont, but I knew things would change. And I was right. They did. She made new friends and so did I. We got separate lives. We had to schedule time to see each other for the first time in our six years of friendship. It was tricky sometimes.
But what I didn’t know is how somtimes things change for the better. We were no longer competing for the attention from the same guys or same grades or same whatever. Our friendship matured in new ways. We gave each other permission to grow up and not be exactly the same. We found ways to stay in touch. We grabbed quick dinners when she was in town. She got married and I couldn’t have been happier to stand by her side. I think I like her even more now that she’s married. And I like her husband too- without any hint of pretense. They’re such good examples to me of what a real early-years marriage looks like and how to walk in God-honoring ways. They are killer hosts and I have learned so much about hospitality and true friendship from them this summer alone.
It’s been eight years since I was eighteen, and in that quirky-twist of events that is life, I had my best friend home for the summer. I saw a lot more of her than I have in ages. And this time, I really appreciated it. When we drove away, I was a little sad, but I wasn’t afraid. I know now that most goodbyes are just, “See you laters.” I know she’s here for me through thick and thin. We’ve seen and loved each other through some of our very worst, ugly moments and some of the highest highs. That won’t get erased by distance or time.
So, I find myself feeling bittersweet tonight. My heart’s pulled across cities, state-lines, and oceans. Isn’t that life after high school? Everyone you love scattered everywhere yet strangely near. And I’m not quite ready to begin my fall semester but it’s here all the same. School will start back up and we will fall back into our routines. It’s time to welcome a new season. To switch over my music collection, change my nail-polish color, hit the books, and watch football games.
But in this moment I am very grateful for the now. I find myself with answered prayers. I feel shiny and lighter than I have in a long time. I’m more open and even a bit vulnerable, which is scary but still okay. I still have lots of questions and I’m currently living a couple cliff-hangers. But I’ve also been on a few adventures and am all the better for them. No, it wasn’t the summer I expected but it was certainly the summer I really needed.