Change is hard for everyone, but it’s something we all have to go through. I remember when my family moved from New Hampshire to Georgia when I was seventeen. That period was probably the hardest trial I had ever gone through up till now. It didn’t help that I broke up with my boyfriend before the move. When we moved, I really felt as though I had lost everything. My mom used to make fun of me and say that I reminded her of the old woman in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. I looked to college as being my escape, my chance to make new relationships and new memories. But I didn’t make any, at least not my first year.
I then saw my “home” as my only stabilizing factor even though my home only continued moving around the East Coast. I did begin to make friends my sophomore year of college, and somehow I thought they would always be my friends as they were then. But graduating from college is another change.
I’ve been adjusting to this change into real adulthood for the last two years. I think I may have finally hit some kind of adulting mark this last week. I made a snickers apple salad for a work party, passed the recipe on to a coworker in another department, she made it for a church gathering this past week, and it was a huge hit! Somehow, I felt better about life. One of the hardest adjustments for me of life after college is, I guess, just moving on.
After graduating I identified my biggest fear as being stuck while my friends moved on in their lives without me. But the exact opposite happened. I moved on, and I returned to people I no longer recognized because I couldn’t see myself in them anymore. I had moved on unknowingly. Except for one friendship. The one I thought would be my stabilizer.
My parents more than anyone know the hardship of change. In the last five years, they’ve moved at least three times and are now preparing for their fourth. They’ve had to adjust to a new home environment now that three of six kids are on their own. And I know that my mom feels the burden of the changes I’m dealing with almost as much as I do.
I went to a play last night that one of my friends directed. In a way it was about change, It was about time, how we use it. It was about relationships and how they can change with just one word. Brittany broke up with Jonathon just by saying goodbye. Of course my breakup took many more words, but I love words. What can I say? Although, I’m realizing now that fewer words would have been better. Now all I can think about are the words that were left unsaid. And may I say just for the record that if my boyfriend asked me to read his dissertation, I would read it. If someone I love has spent years studying something, understanding something, and writing about something, I would want to study it, understand it, and love it too. Maybe that makes me weird, but I would want someone to do the same for me.
The play created an interesting contrast in relationships. After Brittany broke up with Jonathon, he said, “When someone decides you’re not worth the investment, it makes you ask hard questions.” I know exactly what he means. And sometimes I don’t know which voice to believe. On the one hand, I know I’m not worth investing in. What would make me special? I’m an ordinary person with a lot of baggage and an overly dramatic personality. But then I know that I am special because God says I am. He made me beautifully and wonderfully.
Jonathon decided that investing in Lily with all her “whales” was worth the risk. We all have whales. After breaking up with Fishie, I see many more whales in my life. I think that in some ways he has created whales for me. All Lily wanted was for someone to see her whales and not run away from them. Fishie ran away from mine. And he knew me better than anyone, or so I thought. Now I don’t think anyone will ever care about my whales, let alone embrace them for me. I don’t think there will ever be anyone who will be my storage container.
Two years ago this week was my senior recital, the moment you work hard for all through college. I remember going into that night with the hard realization that I had nobody in my life to share the moment with. I had my family of course, and they had always been my biggest supporters. I never thought when I was in high school that I would be the invisible woman. I wrote a poem then about change. I think it’s time for me to embrace it again.
The Bite Not Taken
My studio is filled with boxes stacked
for storage, memories to be guarded when
the past is blurred by tears of what might be.
My studio was never much. The fourth
floor window gazed at taxi cabs and haze
of booming industries. My room itself
was cramped and caged me in on all four sides.
With every breath I took the white-washed walls
collapsed. I tried to build them up again
but found the only way to build them up
would be to find the door and walk through it.
My studio still needs some packing up;
the dust of time and childhood dreams consume
most of the table top and floor. My thoughts
conflicting in myself, I see the pear—
half eaten, rotting on the window sill.
I don’t remember what it tasted like.
Perhaps it was a mouthful of mush to chew
and then spit out, or was that pear the best
I’d ever tasted, growing stale before
I finished savoring the bite? My past
I’m running from yet yearning to keep hold
of. Letting go is difficult. I see
the picture on the wall, the only spark
of soul still left. The roses spiraling
around the railing—Rome—the hope I had.
I see the roses, but they’re far away
from me. I cannot smell them; roses do
not grow inside this studio. My roots
grow deeper; I am planted in this place.
I have to paint my picture. Colors can’t
compose themselves. I like the canvas clean.
What’s blank cannot be wrecked by blemishes.
The color white is stable and secure.
But I am packing up my studio.