When I lived at home (with my parents, not with my husband . . . I still do live at that home), I had a strong timid tendency. Not shy, mind you, but timid. And really only timid about some things. I was not timid when it came to singing "Ave Maria" for student body elections with the slight lyric change of "Vote for Emily! Please, just vote for Emily!" over and over. I was not timid about voicing my opinions about rude adults--to the rude adults. I was not timid about expressing my desire for some man, some where to some day love me. No, my timidity was more along the lines of not wanting to put someone out. My family still teases me about the fact that I just couldn't order a pizza. Yes, I am aware they are paid for the gig, but it really just felt like I was making their lives hard, that I was solely responsible for making their shift too burdensome. I would not ask for directions because I might be interrupting some one's conversation. Making an appointment with someone whose job it is to accept appointments felt too invasive. I was loath to inconvenience anyone.
Enter college. Enter collage across the ocean. Enter collage across the ocean without my mom!
I learned to make appointments. I learned that people like to talk about their specialities; that people are sometimes annoyed when they are not consulted concerning their specialities. I learned that if something broken was to be fixed, it was to be fixed by me. Otherwise, it would go on being broken. I learned that my parents were right about most things. I learned that my testimony of the gospel was really mine, and not that of my parents. I learned that I could make life-long friends in a new place. I learned that I could love a roommate who spoke Mongolian and Russian, but not English. I learned that I was strong enough to do it--that I could take on challenges and succeed.
I learned who I was, on that island.
My niece arrived at my old dorm (!) a couple of days ago and I am suddenly homesick. I am homesick for Hawaii and college and my eighteenth year. I never want to be eighteen and single and nervous again, yet I miss it. I am quite different now than I was that August day, 1995, when I landed in a place I had never been, with no one I had ever known, yet I am who I am today because of that freshman year.
I thought I would go back, after my adventures abroad, but met The Bluest Eyes instead. Someday I will walk the streets again; the streets that saw me discover myself, but it won't be the same. How could it be? My life has been wonderful, full of adventure and surprises, full of experience and growth.
What a gift.
What a beautiful gift.
Ariel, I am smelling the flowers and feeling the air, I am hearing the waves and the birds and the campus noises, I am proving myself to myself right along with you. I envy you for the journey you are taking.
I treasure the memory of mine.