still don’t have the right look

My old roomie Buffy and I have some pretty fantastic email conversations throughout any given week – (fantastic running the gamut between insane (exchanging hilarious song lyrics) to the thought-provoking (discussions of how we single girls feel guilty for needing time off from our friends and responsibilities, because we feel (rightly or wrongly) that everyone thinks that we should have lot of free time because, after all, we’re single.) Sometimes these are spent talking about what we’re going to do with we get off work, or what we read last weekend, but sometimes we discuss the great wisdom (I jest, I jest) that we have discovered since popping the Christian college bubble and trying out adult life.

This week, we have been discussing the phenomena of the different ways that people we know (hey, 1200 kids at a school, face it, we do know everyone, or have heard at least one cafeteria line story about them)* have dealt with moving away from the physical A. bubble. It appears that there are three main methods.

You can read more, but I’m warning you, this is a really long rant, and I get way off-track.

First, there is the most obvious. Don’t move away. There are a lot of people, obviously, who have stayed in the school’s immediate vicinity, to pursue or continue work they found while they were in school, but I’m talking about people who may or may not have moved away from the physical location, but whose support system is still primarily made up of that clique they hung with in school. You know, that clique that was so tight that you felt the urge to press up against the hallway walls when they passed by, as if they were a solid. Their facebook and myspace pages are full of pictures of vacations they have taken together, cross-country treks to be in each other’s weddings and to cuddle each other’s babies. Perhaps the reason that I don’t understand these people is because 5 roommates in four years doesn’t really lend itself to cliques. I feel a little jealous of them, in all honesty. In my head, their version of moving into adulthood is so much easier than my reality, even though I’m sure it comes with it’s own set of challenges.

Second, there are the people who pretend the bubble never happened. These are the people who no longer speak to even their closest friends from A. When you run into them, they make awkward eye contact and won’t introduce you to their boyfriend. You can’t figure out whether they’re ashamed of you or ashamed of the boyfriend, and they seem determined to block from their memory those four years. I feel the sorriest for this group. Maybe they were only pretending for those years. Maybe they were only A. kids because that’s where their parents wanted them to go. Maybe they’ve made mistakes in their lives they feel afraid of our judgmental eyes seeing. How sad would that be? That they came out of the A. bubble believing that we all were just waiting for a misstep, to pull our love and support out from under their feet?

Third, there’s where I am. I have friends from A. Fewer than I can count on both hands, probably, but the ones I have are a very special part of my heart. I also have moved away (far away) from all of them, found a new church, established a new group of friends, gone for months without talking to some, emailed others constantly, talked for hours on the phone with others. I have had some surprise visits, but have still failed to make it back to visit most of them. (Well, Bex, if you hadn’t moved to the Sudan, it wouldn’t be quite so challenging to come visit you, but I’m determined to make it happen eventually. Yay Africa!) I’m thankful for the four years I had in the A. bubble, it was the best place for me to go through some of the experiences those four years held. I’m thankful for the professors I had, their support of me and their encouragement of my faith. But one of the things I’m the most thankful for is something that A. gave me only indirectly – my church. Seriously. Without Alisa and Bobby and Guinever and the rest of her family, I would have never survived the 4 years that the Lord gave me there. Who else would let me babysit and eat dinner with a real family, let me move into their home when tragedy struck and live for the rest of my senior year in their spare room? Who else would watch movies with me and let me be a part of their family worship, cry with me, laugh with me, and restock my soul when it was empty and lost? They would. Wow. Sorry. Got a little side-tracked there, but all I really wanted to say was that while I am sure that I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for my KY years, I haven’t really had the opportunity or resources to try to hold onto it too hard. I have had to move on, settle into my next life stage and while I miss certain people with a soul-deep homesickness sometimes, I am thankful for this new (okay, so I guess that year four (!!!) isn’t really new) life-stage as well. Although…now that I have a job that makes money, maybe Buffy and I can take a road trip to my KY home together, so I can visit my church family.

Hmm. This post didn’t go where I thought it would at all. But you see what I mean, hopefully, anyway. I promise to get bacak to my usual – what I’m reading – in my next post.

*Funny/terribly sad story about cafeteria line stories. Right after Cori died, after coming back to school after Thanksgiving, I kept a pretty low profile. It was that stage of grief (maybe compounded by the drama of the situation) where you’re convinced that everyone is talking about you and gauging your face, reactions, mental health. So I was in the cafeteria during a busy lunch, by myself, and this girl in front of me (a freshman I didn’t know) told her friend that she’d heard that the girl whose friend had died over in G-C (our dorm) hadn’t come out of her room all week. It was terrible, but at the same time I was really tempted to lean forward and tap her on the shoulder and ask if anyone had at least pushed a PB & J sandwich under the door for me once in a while. (Was that story too morbid? Buffy or Bex, if it is, will you let me know and I’ll edit this?)

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3 thoughts on “still don’t have the right look

  1. Someone actually said that about you in the cafeteria line?! What the poo? It’s ok, they were talking about me too and thought I couldn’t hear them either. I’m so thankful for our group that went through this. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through that with anyone else but you and those special girls. I love you Coral and I miss you so much. If I could i’d totally come and see you :D

  2. i’ll be waiting for that visit… just let me know when to apply for a visa for you. :) i love you. i think that i would fit in category three too. i tried as hard as i could to bring some category one type friends with me to africa, but it seems as though i failed…

  3. It’s cliche, but putting time and distance between yourself and the bubble will certainly make you realize who your lasting friends are, and some of those realizations come as surprises, both good and bad. I once heard someone put friends into three categories – Reasonal, Seasonal and Lifetime. (On a side note, I have a hard time letting reasonal and seasonal friends go – be my friend, dammit! – but I’m getting better at it)

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