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About this time ten years ago, my first husband and I packed up our first apartment to move 700 miles south to our first home, kicking off our careers as ministers.
Or something like that.
The memories have been strong this month. I’ve spent probably too much time thinking about that decision, to come here: the anticipation of a new beginning; the grief of loss of friends and familiarity and the sweet fondness we had for Princeton; the anxiety over finding a call.
I’ve thought how it was only four years before THAT, that we packed up and moved from California to New Jersey, and I cried virtually the whole way there. I cried for the first three months we were married, I was so homesick. I loathed New Jersey, and making friends in seminary felt an awful lot more difficult than I anticipated it to be.
When we moved into our apartment, married student housing, it was a horrendously hot and humid day. The two of us spent the morning hauling boxes and furniture from the moving truck into the breezeway, up the narrow steps, and into our modest 450 square foot space complete with pepto-bismol pink bathroom tiles and tub. As we struggled to grip the queen mattress plastic wrapping with our sweaty hands, still just the two of us a good two hours in, I finally lost it in the middle of the street: “Where the fuck is everybody? I thought we were supposed to be surrounded by CHRISTIANS?!”
My other was NOT pleased with my outburst. But by then I was done caring: if we were surrounded by people who weren’t willing to lend a hand, why should I care to offend such selfish creatures?
The good news is, I think pretty much everyone was gone on vacation, so no one heard a word I said.
(And what’s pretty great is, none of you reading this would be surprised I had said it in the first place.)
Anyway, now here we are, 14 years from that event, 10 years from my graduation (11 from his), and holy crap is life vastly different from what I had imagined.
I’m a little sentimental about it, because my graduating class is celebrating our 10 year reunion this week, and my Facebook newsfeed is flooded with a great deal of excited posts. But I have a wedding to go to (stupid brother), so I’m off to California instead of New Jersey, and while that’s exciting in and of itself, I’m quite sad.
Because I would love to tell so many of them (so, so many of them) that they mean the world to me. When my world came crashing around me, I had people express love and concern who could have been, at best, strong acquaintances. A number of friends shared with me their own observations of my marriage, things they hadn’t felt comfortable saying before. And I found myself relieved and understood, while sad and very scared and terribly alone.
Moreover, though I am convinced that my spiritual life has spelunked to depths previously unknown by me, and I have ventured away from the pastorate – still the love pours out, sans judgment, amazingly enough.
So I’m sad, because there is a lot of neck-squeezing I would love to do this week. I would love to clasp so many hands into mine, and lift up my tear-filled eyes, and offer deep thanks.
Every once in awhile, my boytoy likes to make fun of me when I talk about my friends. He’s a quite introverted type, with a very close knit circle, and a handful of others. But he would never classify a number of people into the category of “friend.” I appreciate his boundaries.
But there are intimacies that can be shared in the briefest of encounters, and those have a way of nestling into my soul and placing hope and trust in those moments, and therefore a deep fondness and attachment to the person at the other end of that experience.
So, here is to you, Princeton Seminary, class of 2006. Never did I feel smart enough to make a worthwhile contribution in class, but I loved being your classmate nonetheless. Better still, I love being your colleague. I hope you all have a blast.