college smollege

i love the city. i love the hustle and bustle. i love to fall into bed. i love that the fast pace of everyday makes the moments of clarity stand still in my mind. . .

rushing out the door is a habit of mine. i never give myself enough time to get dressed, get the kids together and actually stroll leisurely out the door. it is inevitable that i will search for something that is right in front of me: my keys, my glasses, the kids shoes. i will run around in circles only to find them where they belong or in my pocket or maybe the shoes are even on their feet. . .

the point is, i rush around in my life so much, that i don’t always notice the simple things and the beauty that is right in front of me until i receive a jolt. i love those jolts. they make me stop, they might make me cry, and they make me remember that i love where i live and the people who live in my life.

yesterday i was jolted.

i was late (big surprise) as i rushed out the door to drop my kids at water ski camp and head up hwy 93. if you have never driven from golden to boulder on hwy 93, i highly recommend it. it is hard not to stare in amazement at the flatirons to your left and the farms sitting gently on the side of the road only 30 minutes or so from the city.

when my phone rang, i was reminded why i was driving this way. . .to meet my sister and my niece to take her senior portraits. when i took my senior portraits, i think i just went to a dark room in the gym and propped my head on my hands and smiled. today they actually take pretty pictures. . . but anyway, my sister led me down a back road and another and another. i felt like i was in a foreign land, or at least not 30 minutes from my house. i drove slowly and marveled at the beauty.

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we are always traveling to see the country but just making a wrong turn in your own small world can surprise you. it is always amazing to me that the smallest detour can lead to a new discovery.

and then i saw her. . . my oldest niece strolling along the side of a country road in knee-deep weeds by an old oak tree having her picture taken. she was beautiful and i was jolted.

i was jolted by her beauty but even more by who she has become right in front of me. i can’t say i have been completely oblivious, i have seen it coming, but looking at her standing there against the flatirons brought it home to me. . .she will be leaving my world. she will go out into her own world and become an adult without me standing there to watch.

i want her to stay close to home. i want her to come home on the weekends, visit me and sit up late into the night and tell me all about her new world. i don’t want to miss her getting older. it is selfish, i know. but, there is a lot of beauty in this place. didn’t i just say you turn a corner only to find a whole new experience? do you have to travel halfway across the country to find yourself?

i think the answer for her, much to my dismay, is yes. there might be beauty around every corner and it might just be enough for lots of people but maybe there is something to be said for being really on your own and finding your own “jolts”. there is something powerful about being dependent on yourself for everything and becoming your own person. she has a beautiful, strong, independent spirit; perfect for exploring without all of us breathing down her neck.

as i fell into bed last night i thought of my niece and remembered the first moment she became a part of my world. i remember so clearly flying across the country to take care of her every chance i got. but i also reflected on how it felt to make my own family at school, away from home. i remembered how lonely and scary it was at the beginning but how quickly i grew to love and depend on the family i chose for myself. these are still the people i call when my heart breaks and who i turn to for a good laugh and an even better time. these were the days i remember starting to become who i am today.

i guess it was a gift to leave my family and it will be her gift too. it was a gift because i was still home when i needed to be, but i was taking care of the person i would become. . .i need to embrace that for her too.

my niece is so worried about picking the “perfect” college. i am not convinced there is a perfect college for each of us. . .i am more convinced that it is what we are willing to make of the place we choose. it will never be perfect but it might just be perfect for who she is going to become.

and while i will cry when she leaves and miss her with a loss i can’t really explain, i will love to watch her go out into her own world and become an even more amazingly beautiful person. . .if that is even possible.

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college shoes: shoes that introduce you to yourself. shoes that carry you from adolescence to adulthood; sometimes they are clunky and hard to make your way in, sometimes they are flimsy and need extra support and love but most of the time they are strong, supportive shoes that carry you forward so fast you will wish they had brakes.

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