I currently live near Winthrop University. Actually, I could shout loudly and the campus could hear me. It is often times a faster walk than drive to get there. Not that we go there, really, ever. We go in the opposite direction, towards the lake, where the quiet spots exist. But every morning since the weather has decided to cooperate, my husband and I each take our turns running or walking around and about our neighborhood here.
We used to be a bit lethargic as individuals. But, when the track team runs by your window every morning, you start feeling bad about yourself and secretly hating track. Or you get up and join the crowd. We have decided to do a bit of both. It's hard, being a married couple with young children, responsibilities, and sagging middles in the midst of physical perfection. I know it is getting to us because both Michael and I are purposely looking in the other direction when young people run by. Honestly, don't they own clothes? Last night we were driving in the car, and the blond kid with no shirts and lots of body oil ran down our street. Again. And my husband, exasperated, said out loud what we both think. "Does he have nothing else to do but run up and down our street all. day. long?" And after a minute, I realized there's more than one. There are numerous blond track teammates with no shirts because their mommas let them pack for school all by themselves. That's the only way.
Anyway, after avoiding the campus for six weeks, this morning I faced my insecurities and walked all the way through the campus and all the way around the classroom buildings. And it was here, amongst the brick towers, that I saw the other kids. The normal ones that have classes to take and cannot spend every waking moment running up and down my street. They looked so young and grown up all at once if that is possible. Made me think back to my college days. (I've been thinking about my college days a lot more living here that I ever did before.) Those souls shuffling by with heavy packs and sleep in their eyes looked worn out. And I remember. Not having Mom and Dad to cook my meals and keep me home and to look after me so that I felt accountability. It's hard, learning to grow up and get rest and eat right and deal with stress. Makes a person homesick, dealing with all that learning. I conveniently forgot that part of college. Amnesia.
So, this weekend, the kids are hosting a lemonade stand for the runners. They want Lego money, so the lemonade is not free. But, because of a lovely, eye opening conversation with my brother the professor, the kids will also be offering Chess or Chutes and Ladder games for free. Right out on our front lawn. Michael and I can play the role of doting aunt and uncle and the boys can play the roles of little siblings that must win every game, and it will be offered up for the taking. Hopefully some of those homesick students will come sit with us for awhile. Forget their worries. Feel the stability of family. Just for a bit at least.
In fact, I pray they do.