It came to my attention after posting the last segment of the story that, as anticipated, my chronology was a bit off. As Ali best remembers it, I came up to Lynchburg on what was probably a Thursday afternoon/evening, and the event of our first hanging out would have been Friday night and not Monday as it looks like I may well have left on Monday morning to continue on up to PA. Dennis and Rachel were of course around on Saturday as they had helped in judging at TI (Teens Involved). If you are keeping score, this means we hung out on Friday night for the first time and so Saturday we did as well (as Ali remembers it, driving around with Brandon and I, which come to think of it I remember as well now, it for sure involved checking out the newer buildings on campus), and then Sunday has more of a context now as just an extension of the hanging out that had been happening all weekend (in usual usage it’s best to avoid passive constructions, but here’s one for fun)
Having cleared that up, we can safely proceed in a chronologically accurate fashion now, assuming I left Monday morning, or at latest, Tuesday morning. Either way it was morning, since I was making a somewhat lengthy drive to Scranton, PA and the campus of BBC (not the British Broadcasting Company, that wouldn’t make sense), and since it was a weekday, Ali was working at Panera, much like she is doing right now, but of course she is in Orlando nowadays (as I am briefly). She wanted me to come by and say goodbye before leaving, which of course I was glad to do, and upon doing so I was instructed to call when I got there, which of course I then did. I doubt this was subtle maneuvering on her part, but it did ensure that we continued a habit of talking the rest of the road-trip, which inevitably would carry over into my normal life once I got back to Tennessee.
I generally have enjoyed driving across Pennsylvania (along I-81 at least), but this particular day was particularly exhilarating for reasons largely inexplicable to me at the time. I rocked out to Mae’s Everglow for at least an hour of the time and for some reason track 12 (Ready and Waiting to Fall) resonated with me rather strongly, so much so that later in the week at an altogether different Panera in Scranton I wrote a blog with the same title which I will reproduce here for effect:
[26 Apr 2007 | Thursday]
|Ready and Waiting to FallIts never been more perfect being alive.
I’ve never been more satisfied.
I’d like to say I’ll be gone indefinately [Sic] but….
I do still have a job, and my parents would miss me.
So I will return, just not quite yet.
In many ways, I’ve not necessarily found myself, but I’ve reconnected with who I really am.
Rather than use psychological jargon, which rarely clarifies anything, I’ll just say I had lost a grasp on who I was.
And this road trip, which has reconnected me with many of my friends, and even helped me make new ones, has in a sense brought me full circle.
I’m reminded of how I had grown and where I was going and what I wanted to do.
Similar to jogging your memory, this trip has jogged my soul.
Finally, I could feel something different for the first time.
Heaven made sense, and all the words rhymed.
No chance of stopping now, I’m taking it all.
ps. If you have commented my pictures in the last few months, it apparently hasnt been notifying me, either that or the time stamp is off. But either way, I was notified of new comments and found a bunch, with some requiring a response, so I”ll [Sic] get on it. Also, look forward to new pictures from the trip in about a week or so.
Those who know Ali well will find the timestamp on here ironic (it’s her birthday) and those who know the song might appreciate the weaving of lyrics into the rest of my thought (you should listen to the song if you haven’t before). Point in all this being though, I definitely felt very much refreshed and enlivened after leaving Lynchburg and this is not to say maybe seeing Brandon didn’t have anything to do with that, or anyone else I hung out with for that matter, but hanging out and actually getting to know Ali was the significant event during my time in Lynchburg and looking back now, makes what I was experiencing in the spring sun cruising at a brisk 80mph north on I-81 cohere a little better. At the Mute Math song puts it (which will come up later), “I never noticed my heart before I noticed you there.” Ironically still, I am wearing a Mute Math shirt right now, given to me by Todd who factors into the story a bit later and just took sweet engagement pictures on Saturday that you should check out if you haven’t already. It all comes full circle…
Throughout the remainder of the road trip, I talked to Ali fairly regularly, especially upon departing or arriving in one place or the next. The most notable conversation though has to do with my time in Schroon Lake visiting Matt Moses (who also factors back into the story later). Let’s set the stage of my mind with another previous blog entry:
[05 May 2007 | Saturday]
|There’s No Time Like The Present……but the past has its moments.
I suppose I am completely back at this point.
Previously, I was present bodily, but my mind was still elsewhere.
However, now I have managed to wrangle it in, as it is much too small to be out on its own.
The road trip is over, but in some ways, its effect will live on.
If nothing else, it confirmed an obviously needed change in direction, as in many ways not only did I travel in space but in time as well.
Before dismissing this as preposterous, hear me out.
Obviously I lengthened the spacial [Sic] distance between myself and in anyone in Knoxville…
…but by reconnecting with friends my the near recent past, it was very much like time travel.
Starting in Lynchburg, I met a lot of friends from my first year of school in Florida, circa 2003-2004.
Then I met up with friends from my second year away at school in New York.
The apex of it all was when I returned to the campus in New York, only to find it had not substantially changed at all since I left.
Even the weather was eeriely similar to the fall when I first started school there in 2005.
Had I been wearing clothes from that same time period, I may as well have been in 2005, as everything was identical.
An interesting movie on this idea is “Somewhere in Time” and while the plot is somewhat flawed, it is still an interesting concept.
Not seeing anyone as well as no one being aware of my presense [Sic] as I walked the campus there in New York, in many ways I ceased to exist in time.
Or rather, my existence in a chronogical [Sic] location ceased to be provable.
That is, until I recieved [Sic] a phone call…
And all at once, I returned to the present…the moment lost, but not forgotten.
In many ways, that night in New York, I was as far away as one could be from anything and anyone known in the present.
Looking back only confirmed my new shift in direction as being long overdue and increased my anticipation for it to fully take effect.
Rather than staying vague on this, I might as well elaborate now…
Several weeks ago, once school subsided enough for me to look around and assess my life, I realized I didn’t like very much, if any of it.
Almost everything was not only less than ideal, but less than desirable.
Rather than remain discontent, and not do anything about it other than bemoan the issue, I decided to change things.
So, I quit my internship which wasn’t really working for either the church or myself.
I jumped on the offer to accept a promotion to shift supervisor at work, which proved to be largely more fulfilling and is a much better fit.
I broke up with Carrie, which you can read about it an earlier blog, but which happened for much the same reason as the termination of the internship.
I applied to go to Dallas Theological Seminary in August, and got accepted 4 days later.
I finished up the bulk of my degree and put an end to a chapter in my life that was necessary, but not necessarily enjoyable.
And then I left for Virginia et al. and had the most enjoyable, fulfilling 11 days of 2007 so far.
The finished product?
In 3 months…
I will live in another state…
go to another school…
work in a different position at a different Starbucks, and…
interact with a new and entirely different set of people.
Will I miss those I’ve gotten to know around here?
But I could not be more ready, or more excited to leave…
…and start becoming who I’ve always been meant to be
By now you may be wondering what “[Sic]” means. Well I’m glad you asked (even though you probably didn’t). It’s used when quoting someone and pointing out where they have mispelled or otherwise misused a word. I could have used it in the last sentence (it’s actually misspelled) but I wasn’t quoting anyone, and I guess I could have refrained earlier, since I was quoting myself, but I’m telling the story here, so I get to decided [Sic] how I go about that task, and if that entails treating my earlier blog entries as source data then so be it.
Moving on, you can see very clearly in the above blog entry, whether or not it has been brought out sufficiently elsewhere within this story, the kind of life change I was working through at the time of my connecting with Ali. I had returned to where I had gotten off track in the midst of the process of getting back on track. That was what ultimately brought me all the way up to NY, although seeing friends definitely helped chart my whole course, but the road trip in question may not have gotten off the ground had I not made such a mess of life in the meantime since I had left Word of Life. In coming back to our story here, the phone call in question in the above reminiscence was of course from Ali and actually became what would be the first of our many multiple hour phone conversations. For her, she remembers this particular call (which took place on the WOL NY campus between Kenya and Lisbon) as the first time really thinking that this sort of thing was definitely something she needed more of (cf. earlier parts of this story that involved resolutions on her part to “never speak to me again”). Not necessarily being that analytical myself about the whole thing, I just knew that I enjoyed talking to her and would of course continue to keep her posted on my travels.
For the remainder of the trip, the only other stop that seems to factor into the present account was in Findlay, OH where I stopped and had dinner with Matt and Wendy Olson, to whom Ali was a mutual friend as we had all gone to Word of Life Florida together. As best I can remember, and it is actually Matt that remembered this more than I, they were the only ones I mentioned to any sort of possibility of anything developing with Ali. This was roughly a week after having hung out with Ali. If I remember right I was getting into Findlay on a Sunday night, because Sunday morning started my trek from Binghamton, NY which only highlight of note was visiting Mark Twain’s grave in Elmira, NY. Before getting too off track, I have to say, I-86 across southern upstate New York is an absolutely awful, boring, non-descript drive. However upon actually getting to Matt and Wendy’s (or MattWendy as we had called them at the BI) I was only really interested in talking about my surprise and delight at connecting with Ali. I’m sure they remember the details much better than I, but apparently at some level there is a good bit of foreshadowing to something coming of this friendship with Ali that no one at the time could quite fathom (although Rachel might disagree with this assertion).
I should note in closing that later this same night, rather than staying over with Matt and Wendy, I decided to continue on south to Cedarville University. This constituted a lapse in judgment as I did not get there until quite a bit past curfew. I managed to make contact with the guy I was staying with in Lawlor Dorm but was unfortunately picked up by campus security upon returning to my car to retrieve my belongings for the night (bear in mind this was just a few weeks after the Virginia Tech shootings). My prize for participating in a late night visit to Cedarville University campus was a one-way ride in the back of a cop car. Not one to be easily intimidated, I questioned the cop’s judgment at ordering me to get out when we arrived at the dorm in question (with something like a “Don’t you have to let me out of this thing?”). Thinking I was being smart, he responded smartly, but then in the end did indeed have to open up the door and let me out (I’m assuming the back seat didn’t get too many visitors). Upon verifying my identity and luckily having the guy who was letting me crash on his couch vouch for the fact that he did know me (which was a bit of stretch honestly), I was released to return to my natural habitat of recent advent: the university dorm couch/sofabed/airmatress. To find out what happened after this (there’s a photo album on Facebook) and how that relates to the story (it doesn’t so much, except that I did eventually return home) you’ll have to come back next week, or if you’re lucky, maybe later this week since I’m actually in Florida with my beloved and have not much else to do besides sit in Panera and read and blog while she works. Like I said, it all comes full circle…