Lately people have been talking about fall, and I’m like what’s that?
I’ve had 8 months of summer – starting in January in Africa and apparently ending now in America. I guess I didn’t realize that fall was so near, that summer is slipping away into the past.
It’s true, it’s the end of a season.
I’ve been hot and sweaty for the last 8 months. I’ve lived in t-shirts and tank-tops, bermuda shorts and African khangas. My long hair is usually pulled back, and my skin has never ceased to be sun-kissed.
I don’t know why, but the thought of summer ending makes me feel like the World Race is ending all over again. I’ve only experienced two concrete moments when I felt the end of the World Race – the first one being when I was finally alone (which took place a week after the World Race really ended) and the second one being when my squadmates Emily and Robin drove away after visiting me on family vacation (nearly a month after the World Race really ended.) Other than that, it almost feels like I never really went on the World Race. I was in Thailand two months ago today? Really? My life since returning home has mainly consisted of visiting friends, job hunting and applying for Teach for America. When I think about the World Race, it feels far away, like a fairy tale.
But, like I said, when I think about the end of summer it’s as if my World Race experience slaps me in the face. It really happened, and now it’s really over.
My tan is beginning to disappear, and I’m wearing my hair down today because it’s not so hot. Everything that once was in my life is fading into the background, all the African tribal calls and the Asian fruit vendors, the heat, the sun, the bright blue sky… the last eight months of my life are a bound up in a leaf that’s beginning to change colors, a leaf that’s preparing to fall off a tree and blow away with the wind, never to live again.
I haven’t experienced the transformation of summer fading into fall since the seasons changed in 2007.
And I’m excited, I really am. I’m excited for fall, for what’s next in my life. It was just yesterday I was jumping and screaming for joy about my future, but when I sit down and reflect on the last 8 months or so, my soul grieves.
Late yesterday afternoon I sat on my back patio, feeling almost chilly, reading as the sun sank beneath the trees, and my eyes filled with tears as I read this passage:
It’s dark today, almost like night, and cool and rainy. It always seems in the dead of summer that it will be summer forever, that it couldn’t possibly ever get cold again. And then there are days like today that remind you that it will. The leaves are starting to change, and the clouds have a decidedly different presence than the one they had all summer. They are brighter, more aggressive, fighting the sun more directly than the summer clouds who seemed more content to let the sun lead the way. These clouds mean business.
The clouds are coming, the leaves are preparing to fall, the temperature is changing and my life will never be the same.
These last two years of my life have been exciting; they’ve been full of joy and pain and surprise and travel. I’ve followed God around the world, and he has led me right back to where I started: America. And I know, I know that my next season of life will keep me here. It will be a longer season – a season of stability. Sometimes that scares me.
God has taken me to places I never thought I’d go. He’s taught me and trained me and tamed me, in a way. But he’s also been building me up, and he’s prepared me for what’s in store. I’m ready to start using all my knowledge and talents and influence for something bigger than myself.
And so, the end of this summer is more than just that. It’s a reminder that the World Race is really, truly over. No more sweat, no more pulling my hair back, no more khangas. It’s the understanding that the journey I’ve taken during the last two years of my life is over; the path that used to have so many twists and turns and possibilities is becoming more clear and defined.
All this combined joy and sadness makes me want to cry, but there are some things that even tears can’t express. These words are the best I can do.