I did it! I packed my bag, I printed off my Southwest boarding pass exactly 24 hours before the flight (and got an “A”!), I went through security, I found my gate, I boarded the plane and…I made it home! I know this shouldn’t seem like a huge accomplishment for an 18-year-old, but it was for me! First of all, I am terrified of flying. For some reason I always have this completely irrational fear that the plane is going to crash or that there’s going to be more turbulence than I can handle. I had never traveled alone before and I had definitely never flown by myself prior to last weekend. I was confident that I could make it and I was really looking forward to seeing my family so that motivated me!
My wonderful roommate, Raychel, gave me a ride to the airport, which was such a relief because I didn’t have to worry about parking or catching a cab. She helped me unload my bag from her trunk, hugged me goodbye, and then got back in her car to head home. I waved as she drove off and then, as I turned around to enter the airport, I realized that I was now completely on my own. I looked around for a minute or two before going inside.
As I walked through the airport I tried to pretend like I knew exactly where I was going…and I have to admit that I did a pretty good job! I had plenty of time before my flight left so I enjoyed a Quiznos sandwich and treated myself to a magazine. I was one of the first people in the “A” boarding line so I got an aisle seat near the wing of the plane (that’s the best place to sit if you don’t like turbulence)! At that point I was so excited to get home that I could barely sit still! I tried to study for my government test but couldn’t manage to focus at all. So I listened to my music and, thankfully, there was hardly any turbulence! As I stepped off that plane in Kansas City I felt like I was on top of the world. I couldn’t believe that I had made it and I loved being so independent and brave.
It was so good to see my 14-year-old brother holding up a sign that said, “Welcome Home Alex!!” He looked so much older! He had grown a few inches so now he’s taller than I am! It was very weird to come home after being away for so long. I loved seeing my cat and my dog and I was so glad that they remembered me!! My bed was SO COMFORTABLE!!! It was also very nice to have my own shower (and to be able to shower without my shower shoes). I cooked dinner for my family, spent an evening with my best friends from high school, went shopping with my mom, and just really enjoyed being home.
The weekend went by quickly and before I knew it I was on the plane again, heading “home.” I must admit that I had a hard time leaving. I was looking forward to seeing all of my friends at Belmont and getting back into my routine, but at the same time I really didn’t want to leave Kansas City. It is just such a huge transition and sometimes it can be overwhelming. I feel like I belong here at Belmont and I’m starting to make my home here, but I also know that my true home will forever be where my family is.
One of my biggest concerns about going to a college that was far away from home was that everything would change while I was gone. I have been blessed with a truly amazing family and wonderful friends and I hated to think that I would have to leave them all behind! I didn’t want anything to change. It wasn’t until the day of the Matriculation Ceremony that I finally let go of this concern. Matt Burchett, Director of New Student and Parent Programs at Belmont, spoke at the ceremony and I absolutely loved the quote that he shared. It was taken from Donald Miller’s “Through Painted Deserts.” This was the section that he read:
“We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting, and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it? It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out. I want to repeat one word for you: Leave. Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
That was the perfect advice for me; it gave me the confidence to let go and the freedom to change. When I returned home last weekend I realized how very true that quote is. Of course a few things had changed, but almost everything and everyone that I left a few months ago was exactly the same.