Thanks for the Memories

Well, I’m back! Yes, the Evergreen campus is my home once more, and I have a feeling this semester is going to be pretty sweet. I spent the past two days in running pants and oversized t-shirts while writing, reading, arting, knitting, and planning for the next week or so. A comfortable and quiet weekend. It’s a nice buffer to the crazy weekdays.

But why does this even matter? Well, the chilling out time has allowed me to think about the past semester. Aaaand also think about what’s to come. You know, like, those questions everyone keeps asking me “What do you want to do with your life?” “What are your plans after you graduate?” (UGH) If you couldn’t tell, I don’t have the answers to those two questions. But I do have the opportunity to thank Loyola for the following Highlights of 2013.

The first thing I have to say thank you for is giving me the opportunity to explore. Not just Baltimore (although that’s pretty great). But also myself. For the past year, mainly through this blog I might add, I’ve been discovering new aspects of myself I hadn’t realized were there. Or maybe I knew they might be there, but I hadn’t taken any steps to access them. Loyola gave me the chance to write freely, in different styles, about unexpected topics, and without fear that my views would be mocked or rejected.

My second thank you goes out to the school’s faculty. This is probably the most obvious acknowledgment, but one that is very necessary. You challenge me to excel, and you expect nothing less than growth and improvement. Thank goodness. Because sometimes I lose my sense of motivation, and remembering the professors who said “You can do better” gets me out of bed and back to my desk (yes, I am very competitive with myself).

Perhaps this is also fairly obvious, but, well, to all my friends: You. Are. The. Best. And Loyola, thank you for hooking me up with them via the Alpha (now Messina) program, clubs, convenient lunch times, classes, and being a beautiful campus that everyone wants to be part of. You guys (and you know who you are) put up with so much of my crazy and I am so lucky to have you as part of my life. For those of you who may not know what this “crazy” is, I still say thank you for being part of my life, no matter how infrequently I get to see you!

And finally, thank you, Loyola, for sending me abroad. Last semester was…unbelievable. People say studying abroad changes you, but I didn’t realize how true that was until I returned. I’ve seen so many new places (and I can’t wait to see more), I’ve found out so much about myself, and I’ve met so many people I would never have encountered if I had stayed here. I’ve become more independent, organized, thoughtful, and open to new experiences. If someone told 13-year-old-me what I would be doing now, who I would become, I wouldn’t believe them. I don’t think even 18-year-old-me would quite believe it.

So where does this leave me? A little nostalgic, going through all those posts to find ones that I could link. But also excited. I’m 21, in a fantastic city, at an excellent school, with amazing people – I’m in control of my life. I have the power to say yes or no, to try new things, to choose where my life is headed. And to all of my fellow Greyhounds reading this: You have it, too. So get excited. Take your highlights from the past year and turn them into something spectacular.

Sensory Exploration

Shuffle shuffle fwoomp, ugh, sweater hair, straighten. Slip tie, slip tie, up we go. Shrug shr-, oh drat arm’s stuck; I’ll have to repair that sleeve hole, -ug, straighten, slip button slip button. Hoist, grunt, mmf, shift, check jacket collar, earbuds in, pull the handle, step, step, Step…
Stairs!
Step…
Step…
Push, check reflection in windows, push, step step and
Woah.

It’s overpowering. Crisp air, gray sky, fresh leaves, slight breeze, chilly fingers, stinging eyes.

It’s autumn.

If you ask me what my favorite smell is I wouldn’t be able to give you a direct answer. I would debate and question myself indeterminately for hours and it would still be tied between woodsmoke, old books, freshly fallen leaves, and sautéed onions.

More leavesRight now two out of four infiltrate my nostrils as I walk to classes and a third will be served with tonight’s dinner. As I sit writing this at my dining room table, steam rises from the air vent outside, hits my window, and makes visible waves of moisture, reminding me of Jack Frost’s fingers on a snowy window pane. It’s getting me excited for November.

I can’t wait for the crunch of leaves underfoot, the wooly happiness of snuggling into a scarf, the smell of hot apple cider, the

Oh. Wait. Cider.

Just thinking of it makes my mouth water and transports me back to second grade, staring at the giant wall of trees in the state park at home. My Girl Scout troop is tramping through the dew covered leaves, wiping away at bleary Saturday morning eyes and hungrily looking ahead to the trail-mix in our leader’s backpack. Orienteering always meant an energy-zapping morning followed by hot cider stored in thermoses, PB&J sandwiches, and the previously mentioned trail mix. I’m pretty sure there was an early bedtime when I got home.

But that cider.

Sweet, spiced, and simple, the piping hot drink will always make me happy, no matter how busy or stressed I am.

I usually don’t get homesick, but right now I have to admit that I kind of miss the fall rituals from home. Even though I’ve outgrown some of them, it’s still nice to look back and bask in the memory of reading Harry Potter with my dad after a bike ride on the canal path, or frantically looking for a tissue after coming inside from raking leaves in the chilly October air.

Postcard1Postcard2Postcard3

Yeah, I’m definitely missing the pumpkin carving and corn mazes right now.

If I’m this psyched over fall, I hate to think about how I’ll be come December.

Don’t get me started on freshly chopped pine trees.