The Roller Coaster

 This weekend marks not only the end of the week but also the last week of my “summer break,” the last few days in Minnesota with family, and the last day and a half to get ready for heading to orientation/training week (in Stony Point, NY, August 19-26th, then I head to Boston.) As I see facebook posts, pictures, and read texts about friends and old roommates going back to school, I am a bit nostalgic (more for the people than the school part) about college, but am excited about starting a new chapter. The packing, stress, and butterflies reminds me of getting ready for freshmen move-in day four years ago. I am incredibly excited (also incredibly nervous) about moving to a new place with new people to do new things. But I am greatly appreciative of this week spending time with my family, who I do not get to spend enough time with, before I go. I had a big graduation party with my family and a few friends that I’ve known for so long and are so close they pretty much are family. The love and support was overwhelming, and definitely something I’ll remember throughout the year.

I was able to spend a few days out in the country with my grandparents. My grandmother, who is a wonderful gardener and has a passion for plants and flowers, is not capable of all the work she used to put into her gardens (hint- a whole lot.) So for two days I was at her disposal, which meant I spent a good deal of time weeding. As I leaned and hunched over, squat, sat uncomfortably on rocks, and stood in the middle of tall plants (with bugs flying in my face) while pulling out unwanted plants, weeds, grass, and the occasional accidental plant that was supposed to be there, my mind began to wander. Pruning and weeding is vital to gardening and life. Only by putting in hours of grunt-work and sweat, and by really paying attention to what is around you, can you truly appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. You have to remove what is unwanted or unnecessary from life to take a step back and finally see what was there all along. My grandmother also had my mother and I cut off what was left of the flowers that had bloomed and were “all done” as she put it. Sometimes you have to remove the past to move on and prepare for the future.

(I’m sorry if that is too cliché, or if the metaphor was a little to heavy-handed. It’s only going to get worse.)

Last night I also spent some time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins who I grew up with. We were reminiscing about when my cousin and I were younger and would play at the Mall of America’s amusement park (it used to Camp Snoopy and awesome, but is now Nickelodeon themed and way less cool.) We laughed and talked about the bumper cars, the Minnesotan log ride, and some of the rides that used to scare us when we were younger. The roller coaster, in particular, used to terrify us. (We were around seven at the time.) By my standards now the old coaster is child’s play, no loops or anything to go upside down, and it only lasts two to three minutes. But, at the time, to my smaller self it was Goliath. Once we gathered the courage to actually get on the ride for the first time it was exhilarating and we loved it. My cousin and I would get off the ride and run (probably not the safest thing) past my mom to hell her we were going on again. And again. And again. (One time we were actually on the ride as they made the announcement that Camp Snoopy was closing.) My uncle’s comment, paraphrased, “That’s how it is- it’s the unknown that’s the scariest part.” Once you conquer something that was unknown the power of feat that it has over you is gone, and who knows, it might become your favorite ride.

As I was leaving their house and saying goodbyes and giving hugs, my aunt told me good luck in Boston, be safe, and be careful. My uncle, in typical fashion, said “Have fun.” But he added, “Don’t be too nervous. Remember the roller coaster.”

Tonight I am taking on the feat of packing for a whole year in two suitcases. As someone who likes to be prepared for everything possible and have two of everything just in case (for a weekend trip,) you can imagine how difficult this might be. However, another aunt who has traveled and comes from a missionary family, suggested a different mindset, one of a mission trip. I have done week-long mission trips in high school (and probably packed too much then.) Instead of thinking of this as I’m moving to Boston to live for a year, I am leaving for a year-long mission trip and I will bring what is necessary for that service. That still means hair products and a picture frame or two, but I have been able to simplify my clothing and the rest of the “stuff” from my dorm room that will go to my mom’s house, not Boston.

As I am in the process of preparing for Boston, I am still fundraising to go. Volunteers raise $3,000, a fraction of the total cost. If you are interested in financially supporting me in this mission, here is an address to send checks. If you have any questions or want more information please contact me, I’d by happy to answer/explain.

BFJYAV Program c/o Maggie Holmesheoran
Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church
155 Powder House Blvd.
Somerville, MA 02144
memo line- Libby McDermott BFJYAV
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