Yesterday, I walked back onto my college campus a day before the college opened so that I could settle in.
I quickly packed up everything I own at my house (when I say "everything I own," I mean that if I had left all of it at home, I could not survive for a day in my dorm), willingly did a load of laundry, ran the dishwasher, and grabbed a slice of quiche I made the other day so I could be ready to go when my family got home from church. I even braved the dog and all his nervous energy and put all the stuff I could in my car.
I was ready to leave.
Don't get me wrong, I love my family and my friends in my hometown, but college is different, and winter break is long.
When my mom finally told me she was ready to go, I put my last few things in my car, turned on some "mountain music," as my roommate dubbed it, and departed my house. Since the drive is almost two hours long, I knew I couldn't get excited yet, or I may run off the road. Every time a song my friends and I love would come on, though, I would get this burst of excitement, wishing the drive would be over. I was so excited that I was sweating.
When I parked in the so-familiar parking lot, I sat in my car for a second and responded to some Snapchats, and then I grabbed my purse and my backpack and made the short walk from the lot to my building. I don't think I stopped smiling the whole time, honestly.
Walking through the biting cold, I was still beaming. I opened the door to my dorm, and I had a moment of panic. What if it wasn't the same? What if all these reunions weren't as overwhelming as I thought they would be? What if I was disappointed?
That was not the case. Two of my friends were already sitting in the lobby, and I greeted them, still beaming. I unlocked my room, and then proceeded to walk with my mom back into our hall with all my stuff. I couldn't wait to be back to normal again, so I unpacked everything before we ate supper. I took her to one of my favorite places in Chattanooga, The Yellow Deli, and we dined on sandwiches while I excitedly told her about dream I had had the past few nights. I knew the moment was coming when my mom and I would part ways, and I would, once again, be on my own.
Making our way back up the mountain, the excitement arose in me again, as it does each time I top the ridge of Lookout Mountain. She left me, and I was alone. For a moment, it felt like my first day of college again. I didn't really know what to do with myself because most of my friends had not yet returned to campus, and I had no roommate to confide in. I decided to watch a movie with my hall, and then I decided to venture out into my usual place, the lobby, to see what was happening.
Two hours later, my returning sleep schedule demanded that I return to my hall, shower, and go to bed early. Around midnight, after reorganizing some decorations (because sometimes my compulsive need for things to be just right outweighs my tiredness), I went to sleep.
The reason I write this post is because of what I experienced when I walked onto campus for the first time after the break: Silence. The walkways I usually traverse were empty. I could hear the low wind blowing through the few dead leaves on the trees. I could hear my own heavy breathing as I walked uphill. I felt compelled to whisper.
The Lord calmed me. I was all excited to be back so that I could see my friends again, and the Lord calmed that overbearing excitement and caused me to take a moment and be still. He reminded me that one semester is already gone, and there are only seven more to go (even fewer with some of my friends who are older or who are transferring). If they all pass by at the speed that the last one did, I don't want to think about how soon college will be over. He reminded me that sometimes I need to be quiet and just take things in. I was all ready to rush in, see everyone again, and get back to normal--all in one short span of a few hours. God reminded me to take it slow so that I can more fully see His grace in the provision of the great friends I have here. He reminded me to take it slow because the beauty of my campus never gets old. He reminded me to take it slow because, even though our room is tiny, it sure is cozy, and it's one of my favorite places to be.
He's still reminding me to take it slow even this morning. I woke up to an email from the safety department that said that the college is closed today, and the roads are iced over. That means my friends will not be returning until later this afternoon. The college is at a standstill, but somehow that's ok. I'm not worried about it. I've never taken such a slow day here, but I'll be sure to make time for it more often now that I know the beauty behind it.