This morning I climbed a mountain. No, a hill. It was more like a hill. We have trails in our community that range from easy to “Are you insane?” and I opt for something closer to the former, so I don’t die. I made my way up a moderate trail that zig-zags its way through the foothills like a wound. It was difficult. Everything is already so brown because, desert, and I have sensitive knees (because I’m not old enough for bad knees) and I almost ate it a few times when I tripped over rocks. You’d think, if I were going to cry like a baby, I would have done it on the way up, but I didn’t.
I cried all the way down.
I was hungry because I forgot to carb load (if carb loading means I should have gotten a chocolate chip bagel from Panera) and it was 94 degrees and if I’m being totally honest, I cried because I’m super stressed and wildly worried. Because I. Hate. Change.
And there’s so much change right now; it makes my breath catch when I think about it.
When I was a kid I spent a few weeks every summer in Tahoe at camp. Each year I’d count down the days until it was time to escape to camp where I’d see my faraway-friends I only got to hang out with when I was there. By the time we were 15 and 16 we started attending as junior counselors. My last year there ended abruptly. We all got kicked out. On a Saturday afternoon, we went into town to do laundry and decided to get our ears pierced. The camp director called us things like “irresponsible” and “liabilities.” I still think it’s so stupid. It’s not like we went to London on a school trip in ninth grade and got a tattoo that looks NOTHING LIKE TINKERBELLE. Anyway, we waited for our parents and one by one we said our goodbyes. I only keep in touch with one of those camp friends; he grew up and got married and had kids and went to war for our country, but that day we stood side by side, so sad about the whiplash-like halt to our annual summer plans. That now-Army guy ripped his half-carat fake diamond earring out of his ear and threw it into the trees. I got so mad, I yelled at him about how it represented the end of LIFE(!) and how could he just throw it away?!
After all those years, all the traditions, the lame skits and campfires, and trips to Pope Beach and the freezing lake, everything changed.
That’s how I feel now.
I dread the end of the school year. Granted, I get over it during the languid, ice-cream melting, salty days of summer, but around oh, right now, I start getting sad. I was the weird kid who cried on the last day of school every year. That’s mostly because school was safe and home wasn’t, but also because I knew I’d miss the daily routine and my teachers’ support and my friends. I liken my kids’ school to a daily reunion and now a lot of the family members are moving on to middle school, or new opportunities are taking some of them to different places. My kids have been at the school for a decade and, while there have been some changes along the way, it’s remained relatively the same.
So as I trekked down that trail this morning I thought about the end of the school year, the end of the familiar, the end of tolerable weather, the giant question mark looming over my professional life, how much my people — my family, my friends, my mentors — mean to me, and all I could do was cry.
In the end, all of these changes are good. It means kids are growing up and friends are happy and, ultimately, all of the end-of-the-school-year changes will segue into those aforementioned dreamy days of summer and those days are steeped in memories and laughter. Enough to carry me into whatever new things are coming.