the wheels turned a thousand times. probably a million times. a billion? a trillion. whatever it was, the wheels turned as i slept and thought and laughed and shared. the wheels turned as i was carried farther and farther away from my home. and then i got to the place that it always hurts to leave, the place I call home the easiest, and i was cleaning out my room in an effort to find room and a place for all of my stuff to fit and i found some thoughts that i scribbled onto a piece of paper at some point last year:
you know–i close my eyes and I see myself at the other schools, at Drake, where I thought I belonged, where I longed to be. At Redlands, at Macalester. I visited so many. I can picture them all. but you know what? I can’t picture myself not here. what if, what if, what if. well, what if? there would be no ring on my finger, different cracks in my heart–
and there my words stopped but as i look back, as my heart continues to hurt and ache, as my heart continues to scatter more so all over this world, to Texas, to Colorado, to Missouri, to Hawaii, to Iowa, to Indiana, to Arizona, to Washington, to Oregon, to France, to too many places, as my heart cries and the tears run down my face I think again on how much would be different. so much. too much. the goodbyes were not easy. i cried so much and so long and so hard that I couldn’t breathe and so that there was no water left inside of my body to keep me afloat. i am not ready–still even after it happened. there was so much joy in these past few days. i am so blessed. by my Cottey family, by my blood family, by my father and my sister and my brother and my mother all who understand and love me despite it all, by Emily, who drove for miles and put herself out there for me, who is always always there, by Emmaray, Tiarna, by Iida, all so many miles away but still cheering me on. All of this joy–it surrounded me and it made the pain a little bit better. i am conflicted, i am not sure how to feel. i am scared for what’s to come, but glad to be away from that town. i am scared for what’s to come, and long to be going back there all at the same time. i am scared of the choices i made and how they will change who i am and what i stand for, because i am sure they will. i am scared of how distance will affect what i have with my Cottey family. i want to believe it won’t but only time can tell me that. i don’t know how to feel. i feel free. i feel at peace but yet not. i don’t know how to feel except one thing. here’s the thing that i know:
i am blessed. by all the people i just listed. by the opportunities i have. by the air i breathe. i hope my people understand how much they mean to me. i am not sure there are enough words for it.
maybe you are waiting for a goodbye. a so-long to Cottey. but i must refuse you. for I will never say goodbye to a place that welcomed me with such welcome arms. instead I lift my glass for Cottey College: here’s a toast to you: for the education, for the trips, for the tears, for the pain, for the growth, for the lessons, for the sisters. Cottey, here’s to you.