These are all words that define the days between the Virginia gathering and the time I would end up seeing Austin, Drew, and Naomi again. Directly after the Virginia gathering, I settled into a sort of sadness that seemed to linger in my life. I missed them and I honestly had no idea when or if I would ever see them again and that upset me. Until, however, Austin and Drew began talking about hosting a gathering at their home in October. Naturally, we started making plans, but October was six months away. Real life had to happen in the meantime.
Real life for Austin and Naomi meant starting new jobs and working long hours. For Drew, it meant continuing his college studies and, as for me, I was just trying to finish up my final college courses before my enrollment ended in July. All that I had left was finishing my Shakespeare and Algebra courses and they proved to be a challenging and eclectic mix. Our everyday lives progressed, but one thing that had changed in our friendship since Virginia was that there was a freeness and easiness that we didn’t have before. We texted often and we all knew that the others were missing us just as much as we were missing them. It helped us feel close and connected even though we were all aware that there was a drift that was starting to occur at the same time.
On May 28, 2013, I officially finished my Bachelor’s of Arts degree and was immediately left in an in-between season that I hadn’t anticipated. I wasn’t sure what exactly to do with myself or my time and even though I knew that it was time to start pursuing my biblical counseling studies, my courses didn’t start for several months. That summer was immensely challenging for me. I had wrapped up so much of my identity in school work that suddenly being graduated left me feeling very lost indeed. I filled that void with rekindling old dreams and making independent plans for my future and dreaming about bold new paths and trying things I had always wanted to try but never had the opportunity to before. All of that did nothing to cure the growing pains, though.
That summer was the one I spent listening to countless Broadway soundtracks. It was the summer where I discovered my favorite song and performed it at my voice recital. It was the summer when I traveled to the East Coast for a wedding. And it was the summer when I finally visited New York City for the first time.
That summer was the one that made me reevaluate everything … including my friendship with the “nuts.”
As much as I valued my friendship with Austin, Drew, and Naomi, I decided that I couldn’t allow that friendship to dictate the direction of my life. I wanted to see them, but I also began to question if or how they would fit into my future life. I now wanted to move to New York and spend a year or two in the city and there was no room for Austin and Drew in those plans. There was still plenty of room for Naomi, though, who had offered to move there with me. After a year of focusing so much time and energy on those friendships being of utmost importance to me, they were moved a bit lower on my priority list as I began to look at them in the perspective of long-term plans. No longer were those people in Illinois and Pennsylvania at the forefront of my mind as I shifted gears and started pursuing other paths. I was drifting in another direction completely until October finally arrived and I got to see them all again.
“I’m not afraid of stopping,
This end could be my start.
I wanna live a life and not just play a part.
I’ll walk into the sunset,
I’ll sail across the sea,
The final word the last you’ll hear of me
-from the musical Catch Me If You Can