Ten years ago I moved. From one small town to another. From a place I called home for 4 years to the place that is my home once again.

Ten years ago I woke up in a dorm. It was my favorite one on campus and the building is no more. They knocked it down a year or so ago. They are growing. Things are changing. They need the space for something else, but those memories are still alive.

Ten years ago I stayed in a different dorm for my last week as a college student. I was finally an honorary resident of that dorm. This was always a dream and I saw it come to life for a week. The building wasn’t very accessible or wheelchair-friendly. Plus, the elevator was a little rickety. But a lot of my friends lived there and I visited them just about every day of my senior year. I was never afraid of the elevator breaking. I was never worried about getting stuck on an upper floor. Because the presence of so many friends drew me in. And the fun we always had made it worth the risk.

Ten years ago was graduation day. A day I didn’t want to end. I wasn’t ready to move on. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to grow up. I’ve mentioned this before — it was the longest ride home.

It wasn’t just about graduating that day. Sure, I had reached the end of a “normal” chapter and there was excitement about moving forward into the “real” world. But my heart stayed with the college community for a long while. I was constantly trying to think of reasons and ways to go back to visit. I missed those friends more than ever and didn’t understand how to make the transition well.

Ten years ago I was on the verge of crying through graduation. Even before the ceremony began. How could I go from this place I loved? How could I leave the town where I started to grow up and grasp this thing called independence?

I ran into friends as we lined up and we paused for a quick group photo. There were big smiles and they reminded me of joy. I spotted my parents and one brother sitting along the aisle. More smiles. I would make it through the day. Tears would come later…after I left, after we all moved on.

Another moment felt tricky…it was time to move the tassel to the other side. Uh oh. I couldn’t reach my cap and I didn’t know the person next to me. Do I ask them anyway? And then I realized I had a friend right behind me. He reached forward to help me out and I was grateful for the presence of a friend again. We did it. We graduated. We were officially alumni.

Ten years ago I still wandered the campus. I delayed in a major way. My parents tried to encourage me to load up, but I took my time. I went in that favorite dorm again. I found friends everywhere. We didn’t say goodbye. These friendships weren’t ending. They were just changing in the years to come. We didn’t know exactly what it meant or how it would look. But it was time. We had to grow up.

Ten years ago I started a new season as I left one behind. The transition took a long while. I had a lot to learn over the next few years. While I loved college for so many reasons, I love all the things I’ve learned since then. I love all the ways I have grown up…and it all started ten years ago.

The word for today’s Five Minute Friday post was GROW. I couldn’t stop typing until the story was done. College was another dream I had in my heart for years. And God provided exactly what I needed to make this dream a reality.

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