Fourth

It’s been a long time, in blog years, since my last post. Summer meant a break, the kind in which you do lots of your favourite things over and over again, but unremarkably. You get the odd pretty picture out of it, but mostly it drips by unremarked upon except by you, who can’t believe you get to live it.

And then you’re back! Fourth year. Spelling out the number so it sounds as solemn as everyone makes it to be. The involuntary eye-widen, my attempt at a self-deprecating spiel about not being ready because how can you ever know if you are?

As I wander around Newtown I am in denial about the series of lasts which have begun. I remember my first wonder-soaked weeks here and still feel the same way if I bother to see the way the building façades stand against blue spring sky, or walk slowly enough to look and listen instead of hurrying back for morning tea, metaphorical or otherwise. Soon it will be over. This place that feels uniquely mine will no longer be, and in fact belongs the same to lines of students, stretching back into the past and forward into an uncertain future. At every stop in this college life, the reminder that you are not the first one to feel this way, and you won’t be the last. It is comforting, sure, as it is humbling, orienting. These elvis-filled streets will not flinch for my absence in them. My favourite Vietnamese restaurant will not mourn the loss of my Sunday night salad.

Fourth year. If I say it enough, maybe I will start to believe it. The changing of the seasons leads me to extra nostalgia, as everything has a comparison point all of a sudden, each year the echo of another in its sounds and smells. I remember 3 years ago. Everything is different now, but if I close my eyes it feels the same. As though I am listening to the girl in fourth year, saying her goodbyes, instead of living her.

I started this blog to talk about college, to share these 4 years with loved ones far enough away to care about what my books look like in my shelves, and where the best burger place is. Most of the time I write when I have to, because there is something inside I can’t reconcile until it’s in words on a screen. Over summer there have been a thousand things to say, but no motivation to write any of them down. That’s what rest is, I guess. Not having to organise myself or spellcheck. Not having to hope that this makes sense.

The last two weeks have been a mix of familiar and unknown. Each new college year brings the same markers with it, and different people to mark it with. I am so pleased still to be here, while coming to grips with the fact I am almost gone.

So what of this year, already 3 months in? This year means Clovelly, and a raucous schedule of hanging out with older kids than I am used to, frightening and delighful in their questions and perception. This year means less class than ever, and so much choose-my-own-adventure assignments that I am in danger of being paralysed by choice. It means a final year of above-par coffee and avocado-toast Saturday mornings and Sunday night swims and 6pm dinners cooked for me and spring break holidays in hammocks. It means change, eventually.

It means an odd sort of excitement as I anticipate a future unknown by me, and the feelings that will come if it remains unknown as the year creeps on. I like knowing. I like schedules and lists and plans and calendars and events in my diary 3 months in advance. But the unknown is what’s good for me, because it means I can’t pretend control. I have been here before, in this place of lasts and question marks. And God has never, ever abandoned me to choose my own adventure. He cares that I care about the loss of these quiet Sunday streets. He cares far more that I get out of here, this place that you come to be sent away from, which paradoxically gets to feel like home.

For all of the questions I cannot answer, in conversation, in study, in life, there is one I can. God is faithful. He is worth following, worth everything. I am thankful that he plucked me from a life of uncertainty spent tryng to determine myself, for a life lived in service of the one who knows the future, and determines my path. Fourth year. I have no idea how we got here, or what you will hold, or how you will end. And yet, though I cannot know what lies ahead, I know that He has gone before.

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