the mountains we climb.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The following was written aboard an American Airlines Flight en route to LAX from Boston, the evening of August 12th. 

And just like that, the summer comes to a close. 

I’m blogging from 38,000 feet, just like I used to while I was abroad and airtime was my only real chunk of free time. My internal Boston clock has me wide awake at 12:18am, whereas back in cali-land, it’s a leisurely 20 minutes past 9 and I should be gearing up for a few more hours of work before calling it a night. A perfect time to sit and reflect on the past 3 months and the upcoming year back in California.

What. A. Summer.

There were times I wished I was back home, somewhere comfortable, somewhere broken-in and somewhere I knew how to get around. But there were far more times when I was in the midst of something unknown, something new, something fresh and clean and simply spectacular. It was sitting in-between a group from Craigie getting beers at Armsby Abbey, it was a red sox game at Fenway, it was a shoulder-to-shoulder T ride where I finally felt like I was a local and not a tourist. It was going to a New England beach with my best friend [now turned sister-in-law!] for some sunshine and down time. It was going to the top of Rockefeller Center while in New York City and feeling the tug of my heart to move to a city. There are too many moments to mention, too many images in my head, and far too many memories to recall. 

I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I decided to throw caution to the wind and move to Boston for the summer. All I knew was that I needed to get away from California and I needed a chance to start a season somewhere new. I didn’t expect to meet people who would make me laugh harder than I think I ever had, or to try a hundred of new craft beers that caught my taste buds off guard in the same way the city stole my heart. I didn’t expect to find myself emotional leaving, I didn’t expect to find myself here, at the end of this great big grand adventure, wishing I didn’t have to go. Wishing I had just another week in the city, another night at Brick & Mortar with a beer and a good friend, another sunset over the Charles River. I didn’t expect my Dad to say to me, “You’re going back to Westmont so soon!” only to hear myself reply “Yeah, but I wish I was staying here.” 

The staff at Craigie joked during my last few weeks about starting a pool of money to bribe me to drop out of school and keep working with them. I laughed it off, even when a few people so seriously said they would willingly drop a few thousand dollars to keep me in Cambridge. The truth is, if I didn’t have ties back in California (like say, finishing my undergraduate degree) and I had a reason to say in the city (say, a new job doing something I’m passionate about)...then of course I would take it. I don’t know exactly what it is, but there is something about this city that keeps drawing me back. 

I remember the first time I visited Boston, when I was a sophomore in high school, and knowing as soon as our plane touched down that I could see myself moving out there one day. Whether that was college, or something further down the road, I wanted to be in that city. There is something indescribable, something a little strange that keeps drawing me back. And now, as I leave from my summer in Boston, all I know is that the pull in my heart to stay in the city is still real. That even right after leaving, I want to go back. I want to walk the cobblestone streets downtown, I want to eat a tasty burger outside of Fenway, I want to fall in love with the city that keeps calling me back. 

I woke up this morning so conflicted. 

My eyes closed right away, as I fumbled to turn off my phone alarm and crawled back under the fluffy comforter of the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square. The past week brought my family out to the city for my brother’s wedding, as I moved out of the humble apartment I called home with him during the summer. After an amazing wedding celebration, complete with dinners out, hair and make-up, dueling piano bars, a beautiful ceremony and a reception that lasted long into the night, reality had begun to set in. I threw the spare pillows off my bed and began the process of packing up the last of my stuff in our hotel room, knowing that sooner, rather than later, I would make the trek to Logan Airport with my family (minus my brother, who is now on his honeymoon in Maine with this new wife!) to travel back to California. 

Part of my heart is so ready for the wide open spaces that I know so well. The green hills of Westmont, the faces I’ve spent the last 3 years with, the new experiences that senior year will hold. My heart was ready to embrace people I love and can’t wait to see. My heart has missed them so much, only knowing their life through photographs on facebook rather than catch-up sessions over dinners in the DC, or late-night chats in our section or lounge. But another part of my heart swelled up in tears over the idea of saying good-bye to this summer. To the city that has stolen my heart. I knew I had to leave today. But I didn’t realize until today that I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to leave. I don’t want to say farewell to this city, unsure of when I will be able to come back, if I will ever get to call it home, or be able to see the friends and family that live out here now. 

I’m learning that the transitional periods of life are always the hardest ones to navigate. 

What are you supposed to do when you heart feels torn between what you’ve always known, and what you’ve just fallen in love with? How are you supposed to fulfill everything you want in one moment, without disregarding the other? I can’t go back to California and stay in this city. I can’t see the Westmonsters I love and know without leaving the new friends I’ve made in Boston. I can’t go back and experience the joy and fun that senior year is without bidding late night beers with my brother farewell.  Perhaps it was the busyness of my last week in the city that left me without time to prepare emotionally and mentally for my departure back to California. And now, as I sit on an American Airlines flight headed to LAX, it’s all coming into focus. That I wasn’t prepared to leave, at least “just yet,” and now I’m jumping in head first to another new season of my life. 

It’s times like these when I feel overwhelmed that I’m thankful I have a God that walks with me. 

I’m thankful I have a God that doesn’t snap his fingers and makes everything swell right then and there. I’m thankful He chooses to walk with me through the messy and dirty and usually frustrating moments. He sees what I see and feels what I feel because He is with me. The Lord, our God, is with me. What reassurance that one phrase can create. God is with me. Just the fact that I am not alone in all of this is enough to help me power through the rest of this flight, trek back to Dinuba, pack up my stuff and drive down to Santa Barbara tomorrow. It is enough to help me feel strong, and able, to push through yet another transitional period, knowing that joy will come in the morning. 

Faith can move mountains. But I think more suitable for this period in my life, is that faith enables you to climb mountains. Faith enables you to look at the mountain before you, and begin the steep ascent up and over that daunting pass. It gives you strength as you take each step in a grueling set of switchbacks, it is what fills your mind and soul when you feel as if your body might give way. It reminds you that you are not alone, and that you are safe, you are loved, and you are fine.

Here’s to a summer that taught me how to climb mountains.

Here’s to 3 months that were unexpected in every way, shape, and form.
To time away from it all, and the journey back.
To much-needed days spent with family and with old friends. 
To laughter, to joy, and to nights I wished would never end.
To my brother, two glasses, and a bottle of craft beer.
To spicy chinese food movie nights with my now sister-in-law.
To people who taught me to take life a little less seriously, and to follow my dreams.
To a city that stole my heart, and promptly refuses to give it back.

Here’s to a God that opened the door to this great big grand adventure, looked me in the eyes, and said “You are going to do great things in the city this summer. Go get ‘em, kid.”

I can only hope I did you proud, Father. 
Thank you.


Respectfully submitted,

Leah

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