Stop This Train

One of the best parts about growing up is being independent enough to take a bus to your grandparents’ house for the weekend by yourself.

One of the worst parts about growing up is being independent enough to take a bus back to school from your grandparents’ house by yourself.

{ I want to get off and go home again }

My grandparents’ house has served as a magical quasi-Narnia escape for me since I was a little kid. I associate only good things, good memories, and good people with this place. Each time I visit I’m greeted by the same comforting smell, the same little bowl of fancy chocolates on the coffee table, and the same massive white sofas and abundance of blankets.

I’m not wishing for the days of my youth to return. You couldn’t pay me to go through Type2Learn and learn multiplication all over again, even though I wouldn’t change anything. I do, however, miss the big, original slide at Rivi (liability disaster waiting to happen) and Blue’s Clues and chicken tenders for every meal.

{ I can’t take the speed it’s moving in }

I think sometimes I’m more freaked out by how I got to this point than where I’m going next.

It’s easy to get caught up in the TGIF mentality. It’s natural to long for Friday, but suddenly Friday turns into the next week, then the next month, the next year, and suddenly you’re 20 years old writing “2008” on your college notes when really that year belongs on the top page of your eighth grade Spanish homework. My friends and I have been talking a lot lately about this “time flies” notion. I recently had a conversation about intentionality, and I think that’s the best way to go about the fact that I don’t want the next ten years of my life to be a blur.

I’ve spent the past three weekends bopping in and out of Milwaukee, going to Chicago, Appleton, and Minneapolis. I’ve always loved travel; half of the excitement when I was a kid was getting there. I still love traveling, it’s just that these past few weeks my mom wasn’t telling me how many shirts, pants, and pajamas to pack and my dad didn’t have the paper map out to route the trip.

Traveling sans guardians is a Steak n’ Shake side-by-side milkshake of empowerment and intimidation. My flight from New Jersey to Indianapolis on July 23rd of last summer was my first flight completely alone, and I was alone because I had to return home in time for my first day of radiation treatment. It’s not that airports and train stations are difficult to figure out; it’s the fact that I’m old enough to be able to figure them out.

{ But, honestly, won’t someone stop this train? }

stop this train

On the way back from my grandparents’ house, I was feeling particularly melancholy. Picture me sitting by myself in a Lamers bus, my backpack occupying the seat next to me and a bag of groceries from grandma wedged in the space by my feet. As we drove away in the quiet bus, rain obscured the view of the Fox River, where my cousins, siblings, and I walked across a bridge one freezing Thanksgiving a few years ago (seemingly yesterday). I queued Mat Kearney’s new “Just Kids” album, full of nostalgic nuances, and texted my mom that I was sad to leave.

“That’s the sign of a good visit,” my mom texted back with a smiley face.

It always has been. And no matter how old I get, it always will be.

I don’t think we ever really grow up all the way. We will always be sons or daughters regardless of the amount of times we blow out birthday candles. I was reminded of this when my mom sent me a stuffed animal bunny for Easter and my dad sent me my favorite candy and a card with butterflies on it.

The train won’t stop. No one can make it stop. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a returning train home.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset In case you didn’t fully catch the John Mayer “Stop this Train” reference.

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