Sunday, August 17, 2008

it's the anticipation of the thing

Fear and anticipation are a potent combination. I look forward to the semester at Patrick Henry. I eagerly await the learning that overtakes me every semester. I hungrily eye the environment that portends great personal growth and maturing. I simultaneously love and hate the coming semester for one particular reason: tomorrow marks the first time in my life that I have lived away from home.

When I leave at six o'clock tomorrow morning, I'll be saying goodbye to my room, my house, my dog, my neighborhood, my face-to-face conversations with my friends, my church friends, my local coffee shop, my Sunday School class, my Saturday morning ritual of the New York Times and a cup of coffee, my large library of books, the nearly palpable connection I have with my family; most of all, I'll be saying goodbye to my life as I've known it. Woodstock has been home to me for fourteen years. I'm still not exactly sure what it means to leave home. I have a hunch, though, that I'll understand it much better after this week.

I went down to the airport this morning to pick Anna up from her flight from Buenos Aires. It got in around six, but customs took over an hour. I overslept and ended up arriving at the airport at around six thirty, and I waited for forty-five minutes to see her exhausted face. Finding out that she had lost her phone cost us another hour, which was spent trying to get the people at three different desks to be kind early in the morning. Anna, if you're reading this, I'm not complaining - merely stating facts.

When we finally left, and after the very long drive to Ball Ground, Mr. Jeff was kind enough to make extra pancakes for me for breakfast, and they were delicious. I left their house at around ten o'clock, and I got to church just in time to see my boys one last time. Dustin is having as difficult a time keeping them focused as I did; I hope God lets him off easier. Aaron, ever the quiet one, said about five words to me, praising the comics I'd loaned him, Mitchell and Barry and Michael were Mitchell and Barry and Michael - all over the place, loud, and eminently enjoyable. Justin was tired (so much so that he laid down on the window sill and used the back of a folding metal chair as a resting spot for his head), but he was in good spirits. They were supposed to be studying Philippians 1:12-18 (where Paul says that he rejoices when the Gospel is preached, even if it is preached ironically or to be mocked, because its power is not in the preacher, but in the author), but they would have none of it. Like I said, I hope God lets Dustin off easy.

I left church right after seeing the boys. I didn't stay for the service. Mostly I'm tired of the services at First Baptist Woodstock. I love Pastor Johnny, but the rest of the church doesn't seem to follow him; they follow the Southern Baptist Convention and their own experience - evangelism is all-important, discipleship isn't. Praise God for satisfied Christians and loving teachers. Praise God for the mature Christians who like to help younger Christians grow. I need to be in a place where I can be taught. I need to learn so much, and I'm afraid that First Baptist Woodstock simply hasn't been that place for me for the last year. I need God to show me where to go next. God, show me your will, that I might do it and be happy doing it for your sake.

On my way home I stopped at Starbucks for a three-shot black and white mocha (a delightful drink) and a box of Chai tea-bags. It was the first caffeine I had today. When I left the house before six, I had stopped at Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, both of which were closed, and neglected to consider gas stations as possible sources for wakey-juice, so I drove down to the airport with the only things keeping me awake being the loud music and the wind ruffling my hair in the convertible.

I packed all of my clothes into bags, finished packing everything else, moved my TiVo downstairs (for Nicholas to use), and did other miscellaneous things that took up my afternoon. Come six o'clock this evening, I flipped on the TV to find An American in Paris on TCM. I'd never sat down to watch the whole thing, so I did today. Gershwin was a genius, and Gene Kelley was brilliant. Though the ending was an improbably twist, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie - and identified with it pretty well. The whole film left me with a bittersweet impression. For the last half (until the final minute), I felt terribly sad, because the girl was unwilling to leave a comfortable love for a passionate but volatile one. I felt annoyed because Gene Kelley's character seemed to be doing all he could, but it just wasn't enough. And I felt lonely, because I knew that the deepest sorrow would only be known to the viewer who had loved and lost and never gotten the twist that saved the American in Paris.

I talked to Noah for a bit, and then Anna came over, I cooked some chicken (which had a tasty orange/garlic/oil marinade on it), we ate, talked, and then packed the car. Now I'm looking at getting up in five hours and not being terribly tired. It's the anticipation of the thing that pains you . . .

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