This past weekend my roommates Ashley, Jen, and I were helping Jen's grandmother clean out her apartment in San Francisco. Helene is a wonderful old Russian woman who is as cute as a button and funnier than Laurel & Hardy. Speaking with a thick accent, she kept us laughing all day with her exclamations about her cat, Ziggy (He only speaks Russian"), opening closets that literally haven't been opened in years to find them stuffed with toilet paper ("Now I can poop all over the place"), and her ability to cram lots of things into a relatively small apartment ("I just like things").
Helene has lived in the city for a very long time. She has lived in that apartment for twenty five years, and in November will be moving down near Riverside, CA, to be closer to her daughter and live in a retirement home. Since we are only an hour away instead of seven, we offered to help her purge before her big move. After we completed our day's tasks she sat us down among her box packed living room and offered us coffee and tea along with warmed pitas and delicious hummus. I thought it would be appropriate if I washed my hands before eating since I had been playing with the cat for the past ten minutes and headed into the kitchen to locate the nearest sink. Helene was hunting for some sort of spice or pepper to put in the hummus before serving it. She lightly tapped me on the hip for me to shuffle a bit to the left, so I smile and move so she can reach the cupboard. As she digs around through various spices and jars, she stops, sighs deeply, and says,
"Boy, am I going to miss this place."
So do I.
"Ah, but that's life."
Such simple words that I've heard countless times before no longer roll off my back. No, they hit me like a truck.
It is like what I've been feeling for months has been summed up in four words. There is nothing we can do to change or stop it, transition just happens. I have found that being in a big transition is strange. I didn't think it would last this long, that I would continue to feel somewhat lost in the world of adulthood, that I would miss friends and home so much. I thought that staying in the place I went to school wouldn't be as hard as leaving. I guess I forgot that others would leave. I guess I forgot that my time will come too.
The author of Ecclesiastes opens the third chapter with this:
For everything there is a season, and a time for ever matter under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silent, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. What gain has the worker from his toil?
A time for transition. All these things take time. Seasons. Fall Winter Spring Summer. Birth life death. Plant grow pluck. On and on.
I am in transition.
It is hard.
It is good.
It is producing growth.
Ah, but that's life.