It was Thursday night at 10:00, and my shift had finally ended. I grabbed my phone, wallet, and book from the filing cabinet beneath my desk, and sped out of the building before even checking to make sure my computer had been turned off correctly. As I buckled my seat belt and turned on the ignition of my Ford Focus, I recalled the conversation I’d had with my supervisor earlier that week, making sure that he knew I was going to be off for four days this weekend, and thinking to myself the whole time I was talking to him, ‘Please tell me I can go. I need this.’
The next morning, after I’d unsuccessfully tried to convince myself to wake up early, I quickly packed, showered, fed the dog, and took her to Doggy Day Camp, leaving for my weekend road trip promptly at 10:00 a.m., and arriving at my first stop in Temple, TX three hours later. I grabbed lunch with one of my old college housemates, Kyle, at his favorite Mexican restaurant (keeping with our old tradition of trying a new Mexican restaurant in Abilene every Sunday after church), and then we endured I-35 construction on the way to the park to play a round of disc golf. It was humid, the holes were oddly numbered, and I was even worse than usual after having not played the game in almost a year. Even so, after the game was done and I was driving to my next stop in Bertram, Sonic slush in hand (keeping with another tradition of grabbing Sonic after disc golf), I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘I needed this.’
In Bertram, I was greeted by my friends Kaitlin and Mason (and their dog, Biggio), who lived in the parsonage next door to the church Mason recently started working at. They made me breakfast for dinner, and we watched the new Wolverine movie (even though Mason and I both love comic book movies, neither of us had gotten to see Logan yet). They gave me a tour of their church building, and we talked about life, old Abilene friends and mentors, and, of course, theology and movies. As I lay in their guest bed for the night, smelling of the Star Wars-themed body wash they keep for their nephews in the shower, I smiled real wide and thought to myself, ‘I needed this.’
The next morning, I headed out again for my last major stop of the weekend. Andrew, my roommate throughout all four years of college, was in Canyon Lake with his girlfriend, Jill, and her parents, known affectionately as Howie and Bunda. After maneuvering the maze of the surrounding streets and driving slowly past the deer that didn’t even flinch at my presence, I was greeted at the door by two nubby, bark-y dachshunds and my second consecutive meal of bacon and eggs. We would go on that day to claim a mostly-secluded spot in the Guadalupe River where rushing water flowed down our backs and Lone Star was of a seemingly endless supply. As I surrendered to the streaming water, without a care in the world for the first time in recent memory, I thought contently to myself, ‘I so needed this.’
And finally, on Monday, my four-day weekend ended with me grabbing some coffee in San Antonio with my good friend, Amanda, who happened to also be on vacation while in between semesters pursuing her Masters degree at Duke Divinity school. The visit was short, but all the while afterward, even while driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-10 with all the other weekenders heading home, I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘Wow, I needed that.’
* * *
When I graduated a little over a year ago, I didn’t know where I was going to be, but I certainly did not plan on being back at home with a job that has nothing to do with my degree. Yes, it pays well, and I’m saving a lot of money, and I’m getting to read a lot, and my parents are more than encouraging in this season of my life, but I still often can’t help but think that I’ve had to put everything on hold while I’m here.
My closest friends are on the other side of Texas (and some are even farther than that), my pursuit of a Master’s Degree has been put on an indefinite hiatus, and–even though I don’t hate my job and, in fact, even enjoy it sometimes–I arrive to work almost every day wishing I was somewhere else.
On Monday morning, I remember speaking with Jill about these woes, and she told me she often feels exactly the same way. Both of our parents had been married by the time they were our age, and we each have friends from school who seem to actually be moving forward in their lives while we find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Though as the great poet Matthew Thiessen (yes, the lead singer of Relient K) once said, “Perspective is a lovely hand to hold.” I know that I’m still in my early twenties, and that I still have a whole lot of life in front of me, even though counting the days sounds like, “seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, routine–and here at twenty-three, it’s the same old me” (Okay, I listened to a lot of Relient K during my road trip).
Something that I found myself saying a lot while driving in Houston traffic has been “Learn patience,” first to other drivers, and then to myself. Then it started to become a prayer: “God, help me to learn patience.” While that had initially been something for small moments when I found myself annoyed with other people, I soon learned that I’m taking the biggest test of patience I’ve ever experienced. God is answering my prayer right now. True, holistic patience is obtained in both the little things and in the bigger things.
So while I’m still frequently frustrated with where I am (or, rather, where I am not) in life right now, I’m trying to remind myself to find value in what I have: a steady job with good pay, ample time to read the books I hadn’t been able to read while I was in school, and quality time with friends and family when such opportunities are presented.
Thank you for reading. Until next time.