It was hard to leave that place. I didn’t want to go home. The day was supposed to be celebratory, and it was, but I carried a sadness inside. I wasn’t ready for this change that was coming. I didn’t want to end this chapter of life.

I had loved so much of those 4 years. I made my home there for a while and I was always excited to go back after summer break or holidays. I’ve mentioned before how I immediately knew it was where I belonged.

When you first arrive at a new place or begin a new season, you don’t realize how fast time flies. One moment you’re exploring the territory with fresh eyes…the next you’re fighting back tears as you linger through the familiar surroundings, thankful for the presence of these friends you now love and can’t imagine not knowing.

They were still making me laugh that last day. Joy was abundant and the memories vivid.

I knew I was taking a lot home as we finally left…not just the rest of my clothes and whatever I had needed for my last week of freedom (freedom, I say, because this place had offered me a kind of independence I hadn’t experienced yet and I wondered what it would look like in the future)…not just those normal things we pack, no, I was carrying phone numbers, emails, and addresses that I had gathered from friends…and I carried the hope of staying in touch and finding new ways to share life.

That day I didn’t really know what was next. I just knew we were heading home. And it was the longest ride of those 4 years.

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