Thousands of thoughts are flying through my head but my main focus is the fact that my bag is overweight by 20 pounds. Usual airlines have a 50 lb limit. Not Spirit. No, their cheap airline tickets have to be compensated for in some way and that means ridiculously overpricing baggage. I hate this. If I don’t get my paycheck before I leave there is no way that I’m going to be able to get to Denver with my bags.
But God is in control.
Today I said goodbye to my family here with a peace in my heart that I hadn’t felt all summer. There has been no rest in any decision I made to stay in my city that equals the rest I feel in moving back with my parents. As I said goodbye to the people I’ve grown to love so much and as I turned and looked at Moody one last time before I went, I felt wonder.
When I left for Spokane, I had no understanding of what being an adult truly meant. And I still don’t really, but I’m starting to.
I met all these crazy people there and they became my family. We moved to Chicago together (or almost…Em and Nick came later) and ate dinner together. Cory got married, Danica graduated. People came and went and dated and broke up, but for three years I ate dinner once a week with the most fantastic group of people. We called it “family dinner.” Because it was for me. They were my brothers and sisters (still are) and I loved them. I don’t think I’ve ever expressed how much they meant to me, but they helped me grow and become someone better. I miss them all so much, but it didn’t really ache so much until tonight. I have sisters (not to downplay Danica and Emily; I love them both enormously), but I adopted brothers and Cory and Micah and Nick all moved away, but I had Mark and Skyler. I’m leaving them now and it’s cracking my heart a little. I’m going to miss my guys a lot.
When I moved to the Chicago campus, I didn’t really have many girl friends, but I made some. I had no idea that I was making friends that would push me toward God or help me grow so much. Luci, Andie, and Ashley were my go-to girls for life’s curveballs. They showered me with unconditional and supportive love and asked for nothing in return.
Luci is my practical angel who always gives the best advice and who can look me and say, “Nicole, I love you, but your book pile is still too big.” I had to get rid of most of my library and she was one of two people who kept pushing me to make it smaller, because it would be impractical otherwise. She is often the Elinor to my Marianne (though not always) and is the only person I know that can go back and forth about cultural references with me. She pushed me to always be honest and to seek God in all things. I miss her already and cannot wait till our first Skype date.
Andie is another practical person in my life, but also one of the most elegant. She is someone who would always tell me what I needed to hear, not necessarily when I wanted it. She’s shown me what it’s like to be poised. When I met her, I didn’t like her, but I’m so glad that God drew us together, because I don’t know how I would have survived Moody without her. I’ve learned so much from her and am conscious now about so many issues in this world because of her. If she had never come into my life, I would be missing out on so much of the beauty around me. I am so grateful that I know her and have been blessed with her friendship.
Ashley…There’s so much I want to say about her, but I honestly am having trouble finding the words. All three of these girls are important to me. Andie and Luci cleared time for me in their schedules and they are both ridiculously busy, but out of the three Ashley was my constant these past few months. She was like my north star. I knew I could come see her whenever, and she would always welcome me. With all the moving and difficulties I’ve been going through trying to figure out my life, she never judged me. She sat and listened and sympathized. She let me crash in her small, single room with a twin sized mattress and several storage boxes until I could sort it all out. I love her for it (and so many other reasons). During this specific season, she was used by God to speak truth into my life. I’m going to miss her company dreadfully.
All of these people were a precious gift that God gave me after so much rejection and hurt. He gave me love, acceptance and healing through a family I didn’t know I could have. And because I knew them in my freshman and sophomore years, I was able to turn around and pour those things into other people. I am going to miss all the friends I made here, but there is such comfort in knowing that it won’t be the last time I see them.
I also stopped by Open Books and my Starbucks before I left. I saw Liz and Kevin and looked around one last time. I said goodbye to Billy and Heidi. It feels like it isn’t really happening.
I’m going to miss my city. It’s so beautiful at night and I’m sad to leave it here. But as Skyler said tonight, “It’s not going anywhere.” And Kevin told me, “Chicago is an easy city to come back to; you’ll be back.” I think he’s right. I think I’ll be back. Because in the past four years I started a love affair with this city, and it’s one from which I don’t think I’ll recover.
Good night, dear Chicago. Good night, dear friends. Thank you for blessing me and allowing me to be a part of your lives here. I pray that God continues to bless you with abundant joy found only in Him.