I drag myself off the bed and shrug my shoulders a couple times to get rid of the ache in my shoulder. My brain is still thinking in Spanish as I wander away from Latin American Literature and open the door of my apartment. It’s time for a study break. Warm, muggy air seeps into my goosebumps as I wonder whether it’s more ethical to turn the air conditioning off and on as my body temp fluctuates or to just leave doors and windows open when it gets too cold inside. Utilities are included in my rent so maybe I have to think about the cost to the community at large.
For the third or fourth time, I notice that the cicadas start singing much sooner here than back at home—and that whatever that room-sized machine behind the laundry room hums very loudly. The gray sky hangs low over the old play equipment in the empty lot behind the apartment complex- a nice break from the intense sunlight that turned my face pink yesterday. In the quiet, I can almost hear the lilting of a mournful, beautiful Hindi song. A sense of peace settles in on my insides.
The last week has been hectic- moving up to Nebraska again, trying to budget grocery money, fall classes beginning with a roar, and discovering that high school algebra is lost memory. I’ve called home asking whether it’s cheaper to buy prescriptions at Walgreen’s or Walmart and how you make hash. This morning at 6:30 it was whether or not to drop math, and if so, which Spanish class to add instead. My dear mom has plenty of practice and patience with my verbal processing, for which I’m so grateful.
As if microbiology and paying rent on time weren’t enough to think about, my twenty-fifth birthday is just around the corner. It seems like one of those big ones where you’re supposed evaluate life and figure out how you got where you are and if it’s where you thought you’d be 10 years ago. The answer is, “Well, sort of.”
I’ve had the opportunity to chase some of my dreams- spent time in missions, but never thought it would be in Mexico. Have higher level education- well, I’m slowly working on that one. Speak another language- wanted it to be some tribal language in Africa, but you know, Spanish works, too. Marriage is still somewhere out there on the horizon, distant yearnings for little ones, but that one can definitely wait awhile. In all, I’ve had some amazing experiences that many adults twice my age never get to have.
On the other hand, I’m twenty-five and have only lived in my own apartment for a week. I’m a newbie at budgeting finances on a monthly basis, and most of the people I see on campus are probably 5 years younger than me. I’m not sure whether or not I can still dress like a hippie and not be “immature for my age.” Some of these experiences that a lot of people have much younger than me are still brand new. And because I’m competitive and perfectionistic, I have to work on not feeling embarrassed about it.
But I have the life I’ve had, and I don’t regret the majority of it. And now I’m hitting another part of growing up, which I’m sure will be filled with tears and victories and headaches and chuckles. So I’ve decided it’s okay to feel exceedingly proud of myself for not only making a white sauce, but substituting it in for cream soup in a casserole. Or be excited that somehow the random decorating stuff I’ve accumulated all seems to be blue and white and brown and fit my ghetto apartment with the empty lot out back. And I like that I’m humming a Hindi song, wearing Peruvian pants, and reading about early Latin American history in Spanish, even if I have to drop College Algebra for now and take the prep class next semester.
That’s my life at twenty-five. Messier, more unexpected, and more beautiful than I planned it at fifteen. So as I step away from a muggy August afternoon and get settled in for some more pre-columbian America, I will smile with God at whatever the next twenty-five years (and this evening) hold. I can only imagine.