This week, we were plunged into the pendulum swing of temperatures that is pretty typical for this area this time of the year. Some days it’s cool, some days it’s cold. It’s normally gray. I know we have over a week before it’s really winter, but the world feels pretty wintry right now. This time of the year, the world changes color to more of a black and white tint. Thinking of weeks like this in my memory, I might as well be in a Frank Capra movie.
This week, Allyson and I came out of the closet to everyone about our future in Oregon. We told our employers, which made it ok to post it online. And, as I find myself becoming more of a documentarian, I find a deeper and deeper need to tell the story and grapple with what it means for me and my life. In times like this, you see the happiness and the sadness, the excitement and the fear. Just about everyone in our life has expressed how genuinely excited they are for us, and when they see our videos and hear the details, their minds are just as blown as ours. But still, I can see the sadness that we will leave. I can feel the fear that we might not finds friendships like the ones we have.
It was exam week, and I spent a lot of my hours at the Wesley Foundation hanging out with the college students who were resting from a recent exam, gearing up for the next. There are a lot of catatonic sort of faces, lots of laptops and notes, also lots of procrastination. I understand. I procrastinated when I was in college, and I had nowhere near the distractions they have. If I wanted to procrastinate, I might walk down the hall and hang out with someone. I might play basketball. I could watch TV or check email. But these kids have a 6 inch piece of plastic and glass that can show them pictures and videos of everyone in their life, they can share lists of every silly thing you can imagine, tailored especially to them.
On one particular day, I watched as they passed around memes all about finals week. Think about this. These kids have articles coming straight to them with pictures and funny captions that are tuned in to exactly what they are doing at that moment. Something that understands them, or at least kind of does. I didn’t think the memes were nearly as funny, but I laughed at how amused they were. Maybe it was because I had had more sleep in the last night than they had in the last week. It could have also been because I wasn’t taking exams, I didn’t need the release from the pressure that tells me if I don’t do well I could screw up the rest of my life. I do remember that, but I don’t think that anymore. Still, there’s something out there on the internet that thinks it knows me just as well, and when I’m needing to waste time, it probably knows me well enough.
My good friend Zach joined me for what is becoming a monthly hike. If you read volume 41 you’ll remember that the last time we hiked, I unwittingly lead us on an 18 mile hike, thinking it would be 10. This time, I assured Zach we would hike between 5-10 miles, and I managed to deliver. We took a loop in the Fort Henry Trail System that winded through hills and low spaces, surrounded by trees, covered old roads that Union soldiers used during battle and occupation in the area. I told him about Oregon, he told me about dealing with custody issues that are dragging on with his son. As usual, we spent a good bit of our hike talking about movies, because we both don’t see many people regularly who nerd out on movies like us. Out in the woods with Zach, talking about life is a lot easier.
I met Zach when I was about 16 years old at camp. I met him because I spent all my spare time on the basketball court, and he also did. At that point, we ran in very different groups. I actually didn’t really run in groups. I was a shy loner who didn’t really know how to express myself and make new friends. Zach was established there and popular, very outgoing and entertaining. I think it’s almost providence sometimes how certain commonalities bring different people together who might not have sought each other out. Zach and I have shared some of the biggest moments in our lives together, and in the beginning we didn’t have much in common. Over the years, I’ve seen us both influence each other and make each other better.
As I was sitting with college students passing around phones and laughing, I thought a lot about our perceptions of millennials and our fear over how growing up so wired in is going to affect them. I don’t know any better than anyone else, but watching those kids pass around the phone and laugh together, I realized there is more going on than it seemed on the surface. They are eager to share with each other and make connections. They are incredibly resourceful and finding information and plugging it in. Like the rest of us, we usually use it to entertain ourselves more than we use it to be productive. But, they are just going with the flow of what everyone else is doing. They just happen to be better at it than the ones of us who grew up with something different.
After more than a week, living with the reality that I’m about to move across the country for the first time, I realize I’m embarking on something I’ve never done, something I might not be good at. I’m reminded of the fears, and as events unfold at home and with friends, I realize this will not be easy. But, there’s this part of me that sees the images of the place in my head and imagine what I might do, and something deep inside me wells up. I’m pulled somewhere, and I have a feeling you have in your throat when you begin thinking about your favorite food 15 minutes before you know you will eat it. I am scared the same way I was walking up to the basketball courts at age 16. I didn’t know if I could hang with those guys. I was afraid to talk to new people. But, I did know one thing. I loved basketball, and there was something in me that wanted to play more than anything to told me to be afraid. I didn’t understand it, but I trusted it–it was too convincing to ignore.