On the eve of my 24th birthday, I found myself listening to Switchfoot's "twenty-four" in the car on my way home. It's 37 degrees outside and raining; the kind of day that makes you want to just curl up in bed. Against all sanity, I decided to go hiking in it. I bundled up as best I could (which ended up being rather poorly) and set out for one of my favorite trails. On the steep descent down the first hill, I noticed the dead and brittle blossoms of queen anne's lace lining the trail as the cold wind blew a torrent of fiery-colored leaves around my feet. Just a few short months ago, I climbed this very same hill after a swim in the river surrounded by an abundance of freshly-blossomed queen anne's lace, hummingbirds, and the oppressive heat of the burning summer sun. The newly-bare forest offered little protection against the rain and the fallen leaves paved a thick carpet before me. Seasons are a new experience for me. Upon reaching my favorite place near the water, I found the river higher than I'd ever seen it before. A good four feet above average. The rocks I usually hopped across to reach my little island were completely submerged, and the ravages of a recent flood showed in the downed branches, trees, and ruined grass. I felt a stab of sadness at the change of my favorite place. Usually it is a place of constancy for me, where I can sit on a rock in the middle of the raging waters and feel completely at peace. This summer I came here often to swim, wade, and lounge on the rocks like a mermaid in the sun. I love to talk to God here. And now it has changed. Temporarily, perhaps, but still so different. I'm bad with change. In fact, I think that I was unintentionally raised to repel it. For the first 23 years of my life, I lived in south Florida. A place completely without seasons. Without any notable natural change. Green and warm, all year long. The ocean moves in its completely predictable tides and patterns, and there's never a time when everything is dead and gray. For the first 20 years of my life, I lived in the same house. In the same bedroom. With the same decals on the windows and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling that had been there since I was 6. I never moved in my life until I got married, and even then, I was only 15 minutes away. The tolerance for change was literally bred out of me.
And now here I am, coming to the end of the biggest year of change in my life so far. And I am okay. So much more than okay.
I now live in South Carolina, over 500 miles away from my precious family. I came from the land of palm trees, beach bums, and endless summers to a world full of cold weather, football, and thick southern accents. I have an amazing husband, a college degree, and a fantastic job. I'm a grown-up now. When did that happen? It's something we dreamed about as kids; Karis and I would sit on my window seat in elementary school and pretend we were college roommates dealing with some drama or another.
And here we are now. 24. It sounds so much older, so much more mature. 23 year olds can still be foolish college kids, but 24, 24 is the the time to settle down, to grow up. In 9 minutes, that's where I'll be.
Praise God! It's been a wild ride so far, and I can't wait to see what comes next... ;)