31 STORIES OF FAITH ADVENTURES
DAY 15: MOVING - MY IGNORING WORLD ADVICE ADVENTURE
In the summer of 1995, I had my summer dream job. I got to be a counselor at the Steven’s Ranch Girl Scout Camp set on the beautiful Brazos River. It paid almost nothing. We only got one hour a day of free time, but I loved it. At the beginning of the summer, we chose a new, pretend name. Our real names were off limits. Mine was Jude. There were these sweet girls that I got to traipse around in the woods with, and most of the other camp counselor had been recruited from overseas. So I made friends from all over the world. The closest friend I made was a girl from The Czech Republic.
Every other weekend, I would go home and see my family and my boyfriend James. James and I had been dating for one year at that point. We had already broken up twice, and our relationship was pretty juvenile. One day towards the end of the summer I got a package from James. He mailed me lots of letters, but this one was different. This one had a postcard that had a picture of a man flicking a scorpion off his cowboy boot. The postcard let me know that his family had just moved to Amarillo, Texas.
This was a little of a bummer, but I understood why he had moved. James’s dad was waiting on a life saving liver transplant, and he wanted his family to be close to his other family that lived in Amarillo just in case he didn’t receive a liver or died during surgery.
At the time I had no way of knowing that Amarillo would become my home. I couldn’t even tell you where Amarillo was on a Texas map. I had never been there. Everywhere I had lived in Texas was around the Fort Worth area.
His news of moving didn’t really affect much because I was spending the summer away at camp, and as soon as I got home, I was leaving for college. I had already been accepted to attend Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. I guess the biggest impact would be that instead of being four hours away from visiting, I would be more like 8 hours away.
As school started, I moved into the dorm and began my classes. James was able to enroll at West Texas A&M University located only a few miles from Amarillo.
That semester was a pretty intense long distance relationship. We called whenever we could afford to buy long distance phone cards, we wrote letters almost daily, and we would make online chat room dates. We would pick a time, I would go to the college computer lab located in the library, meet on a chat room, and type messages to each other. Usually we could find a chat room that didn’t have anyone in it.
All of these rudimentary forms of communication are now obsolete. Thanks technology for making me feel old.
Can I tell you that I loved the SFA University campus? It was set in the piney woods, and the trees were gorgeous. I loved every pine scented walk to class, even when it was in the rain. But the longer James and I spent apart, the more I realized how much I cared about him. I was extremely worried that he was going to lose his dad soon. His family had such a genuine bond and strong love for each other. I had never seen anyone love their parents so much. James was 6’ 5” tall and his dad would frequently ask him to sit in his lap. It was a funny sight.
As my first semester came to a close, I began to think about transferring to West Texas A&M so that I could be near to James, especially with his dad so sick.
I decided to do it. I remember being very unsure that I was doing the right thing. I had so many people advise against it, including my parents and even the SFA student body president. I had gotten elected as a freshman class representative, and since I would be leaving during the middle of my term, I had to meet with the president. He was a senior, and he told me that I was making a mistake that he had seen lots of friends make. I tried to assure him that my circumstances were different and that the girl I was appointing to take my student government seat was going to do an excellent job.
Despite the naysayers against moving, I did it anyway. January of 1996, I moved into the dorms at WTAMU.
Although WTAMU is now my alma mater, I am just going to tell you that their campus was not pretty. I missed the trees. I missed the moisture in the air. I missed my friends, especially my best friend Cheryl.
I was very ill prepared for Amarillo. I never needed an umbrella to walk to class. I hadn’t lived in a place that got actual piles of snow. My first week of class, I jumped in the shower and walked across campus with wet hair. When I arrived at my building, I went in the bathroom and realized I had literally ice cycles incasing my hair.
It was a shock.
After fall turned to spring, the first dust storm hit. James picked me up at the athletic building after class. I jumped in his suburban wiping dust particles out of my eyes and trying to brush my hair back down with my fingers. “This is ridiculous!” I said. James replied that he thought it was kind of cool, like another planet. I did not agree. He went out and bought me a potted tree to try and cheer me up.
As my life has continued to include this town of Amarillo. One day in 2007, I realized that I had lived in the city of Amarillo longer than I had ever lived in any other city. My longest record had been Burleson, Texas which I had lived in for 10 years total. From that point on, I knew I had to claim Amarillo as my home.
I took a leap of faith moving to Amarillo that cold January, one month shy of my 19th birthday. If I hadn’t, I might not have found home.
Just like it took me a while to appreciate Amarillo, this song to a while to be written. Bob Dylan wrote part of it in 1973, and Ketch Secor of the band Old Crow Medicine Show finished it 40 years later.