Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Pre-Return Jitters

Hello, friends. You're witnessing a makeover.

As you can see, "My Mosaic" has returned to "Lauren Likes Saint Mike's". The background has returned to a school-spirited theme, albeit more subdued with a simple Purple Knights color-scheme rather than anything obnoxiously designed (I hope). I have returned to America. And very soon, I will return to Vermont.

I have to admit, parting with "My Mosaic" is one of the more difficult things I've done this summer. Hence the header photo of the kasbah in Ouerzazate. I decided that can stay just a little bit longer.

Life is a mosaic. I'm not in Morocco anymore, but don't worry, I'm still working on mine.

The truth is, a part of me will always be in Morocco, and a part of Morocco is always in me (they don't call them cliches for nothing). I get so frustrated when I can feel so much of it slipping away the longer I am home. The general themes of what I learned stay, but minor details--the things that really made the whole experience special, made it mine--change or fade away altogether. I very badly want to go back. In my worst moments, I sometimes wish I never came home.

But I know that Morocco would have never been possible if it hadn't been for Saint Mike's. If I never went to college I never would have studied abroad; perhaps I never would have traveled at all. If I had gone to a college other than Saint Mike's, I would be on a completely different path. Maybe I would've gone somewhere else, maybe I would've stayed at my school all four years (a very distinct possibility, since many colleges don't transfer financial aid to students studying abroad--something I was very shocked to hear from my friends at other schools who I met in Morocco. Luckily, they found other ways to afford it). Would I be happy? Probably. I am naturally a pretty happy person, after all. But I'd just be different.

Despite my heartsickness for the people, sights, places, food, smells, and everything else I fell in love with in Morocco, I have a lot to look forward to. In just over a month, I will be back on campus for senior year. I will be working hard on my senior seminar project with Sheila and at whatever internship I end up with through my experiential learning course with Professor Cleary. I will be enjoying the company of friends who I consider family, most of whom I have not seen in over seven months (wow--it's about time). More importantly, I will be welcomed into a place that's ready to accept who I am now, with all of my new experiences and everything that has changed me while I was off venturing through the "real world". Almost all of my friends went abroad at the same time I did, meaning they know what it's like to make the rough transition back into normal life. Those who didn't have already endured long hours of "Why Morocco is the Best Place Ever" rants over the phone or Skype, and will most likely hear hours more when I see them in person (really, guys, thanks for being willing to do that). The Study Abroad office, creative writing folks, Office of Admission, and plenty of other groups on campus will welcome me with open arms and ears, asking me to speak as much (or as little) as I want about this past semester. I couldn't ask for a better place to go after something so profoundly influential happens in my life. I left Morocco and had some time at home, and now I'm ready to go home, if you know what I mean.

There are worse places I could return to.

Worse people, too. God I miss these guys. (Yes, I did intentionally choose the most unflattering photo of us all that I could're welcome.)

Even though this year is going to be crazy and go by in a flash, I'm excited to return. It's actually weirding me out a little that I haven't been to Vermont in so long. It'll be another bittersweet transition when it's over, since I'll be graduating in May and I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. But we won't think about that just yet.

Anyway, my summer has been broken up in to a bunch of strange little segments. They've been great-- after a month of being home, I returned to South Dakota to visit old friends in La Plant for three weeks, working with Simply Smiles again and keeping that Saint Mike's connection going (another opportunity I would not have had without SMC). Then I went to California for a week to visit a friend I made in Morocco and plan to keep for life. I returned back home to New York last week, where I started up a great internship at Mark & Phil, a local non-profit that does marketing and web design for other non-profits. It's awesome to be home and learning in a new environment, but much of this summer segment feels a lot like waiting. I'm now in the home-stretch, so all I can think about is getting back to school and everything that has become so familiar to me over the past few years.

I'm being pulled in so many directions now. If you attached little strings to me and then placed the other ends on the people and places that have influenced who I am--South Dakota, California, New York, Vermont, Morocco, Ceuta, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Canada, and on and on--you'd have me bursting at the seams, ready to spill the stories of thousands, and also you'd have no string left. (Sorry, that ended up being a lot less deep than I thought it would be.) I want to explore and keep moving forward and find even more stories to collect, but I also want to return to all of the places that started my momentum in the first place. It's like I expected myself to do a marathon, but instead I'm on track for a relay.

Who knows where I'm going next?

I didn't know then, don't know now.
But it'll be fun trying to figure it out! (I'm making excuses to post Morocco pictures, I am fully aware of that.)

I want to go, I want to stay, I want to turn around, I want to rise up, I want to take a nap. I'm happy, but I'm confused. I'm not quite content with where I am right now, but I think that's a good thing--that means there's still something driving me to keep going and learning and loving and being and doing.

I think a lot of this has to with not just a longing for the past, but for the future. My immediate future is set (as soon as I pay that tuition bill that came in yesterday). But the finish line is in sight, and after that there is so much uncertainty. Sometimes it freaks me out. And sometimes, on days like today, it excites me. It's the first time in my life where I will have to choice to do anything, go anywhere. I could return to Morocco, or South Dakota, or California. I could look for a job in New York City, or stay in Vermont for a while. I could backpack Europe or South America. I could couch-surf America. Or I could (and let's face it, I probably will for a few months at least) hang out on my own couch in good ol' Poughkeepsie, just as I am now.

Time moves in a circle. Seasons change, people change. But I always figure out a way to return home.

"So no one told ya life was gonna be this waaay..."

Here's to one more year at Saint Mike's!



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