Now. adverb. According to Dictionary.com, “At the present time or moment.”
We stop in front of the dorm, its boxy windows glowing. Hazard lights ahead of us blink. I need to get out of the car. Now. I stretch six hours of kinks from my legs, unbend knees, pop trunk. My body releases. My mind doesn’t. For the first time since freshman year, I don’t want to be back.
Spring break slipped by like fading light. I flew to DC in a snowstorm, found hugs and long conversations and feet sore from walking miles of sidewalk. Over the weekend, the snow melted and my heart warmed to the city, history threaded with modern Metro lines and selfie sticks. Then after a flight and a drive, I was home, to cheesy movies and late nights and a church with people who had prayed me through bad weather. It was familiar, the grain elevator a gray, boxy monument to sprawling life with no stoplights.
And then I returned to school and classes and a campus that shifts without me. Now unknown faces form mad lines for coffee before chapel. I am one of the nameless seniors, drifting purposefully between class and work and meetings in patterns I’ve learned to scurry over seven semesters. As we cross the apex of spring semester of senior year, three classes left between me and student teaching, I am Roadrunner, sprinting fast over cliff edges. I’ve been running, surviving, for so long that I don’t realize when my feet hit thin air. My time has run out. Now, I look at the camera with wide-eyed questions. In a moment, I will begin to drop.
The flash of four years is nearly over. Sitting in classes where the clock ticks, in dry chapel talks, I want it to be done. The glassy bubble of a Christian college was first comforting. Now it confines. So do textbooks and assignments typed late at night. My knowledge wants to flex and find roots in real life and real people. I think I’m ready for the real world to bring it.
On a Friday night that hints of spring, I go to a concert where my friend is a featured soloist. She is stunning. After the final bows, while we wait in a back hallway, her mom says hi, gives me a hug, and mentions how it’s all ending, how there’s only one concert left where I’ll see my friend in the front row with the flutes. I blink. It’s ending. Not just classes. My normal for friendships and weekend plans and daily life will also end. Somehow I forgot that part. I am stuck between impatience and anxiety and excitement and fear. I think I’m prepared to move on. Then I think harder and I am not so sure.
So I have choices. I can try to fast-forward through long weeks until summer. I can get sentimental over pictures of good ol’ days and refuse to hope in bright future ones. I can stop typing and head to Netflix to not think at all.
Or. I can decide that I am here, now, and not flake out. I can still have time to walk to class with friends and love on my staff and get something out of class and pass my MTLEs and land a good summer job. Even if it’s rough, I won’t quit now.