Thats where I was on Tuesday, August 2nd. But we’ll back track even further to the Thursday before. It was our last day of work at Focus. Not only was a rushing to finish my graphic design duties, but I was also living in the mindset that this was potentially the last time I would see all these new friends who I’d gotten so close with over the course of those 8 weeks. Its crazy how many people approach you, while you’re causing a ruckus, packing your cube, and pray with you or give you a gift, or just tell you how much they appreciated your service. My heart was #blessed.
Later that night I stood on top of a boulder at Garden of the Gods which I had climbed up- carefully because I had my DSLR. Below me were about 15 of the other interns, Keila, and her husband. We had just filled our stomaches with ice-cream sundaes and everyone seemed caught in a remorseful- because it was our last night together- food coma. I watched the sun as it set behind Pikes Peak and realized that the view I was seeing hadn’t ever become mundane. I still savored it- just as I had the first time I saw it. What was different this time though, was that I felt some sense of ownership over what I was seeing right then. It had cooled down quite a bit and dark clouds loomed above, in the multi-colored sky. This was my view. God had painted it just for me in that moment. I had savored it every night from the deck of my host families porch, or my bedroom window- but this particular sunset was extra beautiful. One of the interns took a picture of me, holding my camera up to my face. The picture captured me so well. The nostalgic, blank, expression on my face, my drooped shoulders from frustration over my inabilities to capture exactly what I was seeing, and my firmly planted feet- planted in disbelief that I wouldn’t be walking over these red rocks again for a long time.
Even though I probably sound like it, I wasn’t sad. When people asked if I was sad or excited to leave I would say neither. I was indifferent and it was bittersweet. I was content. I hadn’t wasted my time that I was given in CO. I had made great friends. I had great friends waiting for me at home. The feeling I felt while standing on the boulder, watching that sunset, is kind of indescribable, but it was indeed the last time I could savor the environment around me with these amazing people.
I got back to my host families home that night, made myself a cup of green tea (the usual..) and began skypeing my boyfriend. I don’t remember much of the particular conversation, but I remember being super tired and telling him I wasn’t going to talk too late even though I could sleep in a touch later because #nomorework. Anyways, he was carrying the conversation, I was dozing off (I feel the need to add here that there is a 2 hour time difference between CO and NY. NY is ahead. And my boyfriend starts work at 7 in the morning…. I am admittedly a wimp.) and I heard this weird pounding on the roof. It had started raining so it was due time for me to close my window- and I was curious what the sound was. As I slid my window closed, I saw the neighbors across the road holding huge blankets and tarps, flailing them in the wind, trying to cover their two cars that were parked outside their garage. All too quickly I realized what was happening and what the pounding was.
I think as I was telling my boyfriend what was going on just then, before hanging up, I looked in the little video frame of myself in the corner of Skype and saw a pale, bug-eyed girl staring back. I ran downstairs- listening in horror as the pounding got louder. My host parents stood on their front porch, one of them holding something round, the size of a tennis ball. I walked over feeling a sense of helplessness wash over me. It was hail and Syd was out in it. The thought of getting a blanket out to cover him crossed my mind but was shot down when my host dad said that getting hit with one of the balls would probably give someone a concussion.
So that was the end of Syds windshield and dent-free hood. Ella was not a happy ex-intern. Literally three days before leaving CO and there I was googling Auto Glass stores to find out when they were opening the next day. By then it was past midnight and my boyfriend who still had work at 7am EST was up waiting to hear the verdict on Syd. Now one thing I tend to do is get mad over un-necessary spending of $, especially when it comes to Syd. He’s had 3 different engines in him since my purchase this past Christmas break- and you can imagine all the other expenses which came with that. And when I watch my windshield get demolished in a hail storm, helpless, with the knowledge that I would be paying out of pocket for a new wind shield (#cheepestinsurance) you can imagine how not happy I was.
One thing that Mark said that night in attempt to comfort me was that maybe someone out there- an auto glass business owner or roof-repair guy- needed money to support his family. Maybe God allowed the hail to come in order to give them business. Or maybe God wanted me to learn to trust him more with my finances. Who knows, but I think it helped a little. 7am rolled around fast and I was standing at the counter of an auto glass store. By the grace of God, none of the 5 spider cracks were infront of the driver’s line of vision Luckily they could get me in and have my car done by the end of the day. 10 minutes later people were being told their cars wouldn’t be done until the following Sunday (it was Friday).
The next day I picked up my dad and sister from the Denver airport and Isabelle got her first taste of riding in Syd in 95 degree weather. I took them to FOTF and then to Garden of the Gods. Later we met my host family for dinner at a greek restaurant where they proudly served fancy Gyros and cheese served in flames. It was nice to see them again and show them what had become my home for the past couple months.
In retrospect, as nice as it was having a perfect new windshield, another downside to not having that Friday to myself was that I didn’t have time to process my time in CO. As I get older I am learning the importance of processing experiences- good and bad. Learning to purposefully just sit still and think. Appreciate what I went though. Push away thoughts of the next week for just a few minutes. I needed a calm and I didn’t know it. I think of Jesus, caught in a boat during a storm with his disciples. "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”” (Mark 4) I really think that I didn’t have enough faith then to trust that God would calm the “storm” of busy-ness in my life.
Sunday we began our trip home. I said goodbye to a tear-ful Ellie and my host parents. They had made a nice breakfast for us and I had played my violin for them one last time. Even though we had gotten a later start than we intended, our plan was to end up in Saint Louis that night so my dad could go to a conference Monday morning- and stay so he could speak at it on Tuesday. That was not Syd’s plan though.
We were in Kansas. Hot. Flat. Kansas. The drive was going good and I was enjoying time with my dad and sister when my car decided to break down. There was an exit we could pull off on and when AAA came, they were able to bring us to the next exit which was luckily a little civilized. (This is the middle of Kansas we are talking about). There was nothing we could do that Sunday afternoon but wait. My dad reminded me that there are far worse things going on in the world than my car breaking down and sitting in a shop overnight, but my frustration didn’t go away easily.
Wakeeney, Kansas’s pride and joy was probably the Best Western we stayed at. The random diners we walked by Monday morning, as we went back and forth from the shop and hotel looked like something out of a movie about a forgotten small town- like Radiator Springs from “Cars". After eating a late lunch at pizza hut, we were on the road to finish the 7 hours to Saint Louis- which is where we were when I started this post.
As much as I don’t care for big cities, I’m not gonna lie- after being in the uncharted territory of Wakeeney, Kansas, the 30 story Marriott Suites in the middle of the bustling city felt pretty good to pull into Monday night. Isabelle and I woke up after my dad left to speak at the conference in a fancy building across the street- running off of less than 6 hours of sleep and jet-lagged. Since my dad was there for the conference, Isabelle and I got his card to get into the exclusive dining area for breakfast. Starbucks coffee and Tazo tea was served with every type of milk out there, honey in little glass jars, and organic sugars. I piled my plate full of real scrambled eggs and went back to fill a big bowl with the endless variety of fresh fruit (90% of that bowl ended up being pineapple though- and of course my heart was #blessed). Isabelle made the best parfait I’d ever seen and we both walked out with a huge, perfect honey crisp apple.
The rest of Monday was spent exploring Saint Louis and strolling around a free art museum with Isabelle while my dad spoke. Around 5 left and took the next leg to Columbus, Ohio. Isabelle once again joined me at shotgun and DJ-d through my spotify playlists, thankful we were finally headed home.
“If you stumble, make it part of the dance” -unknown
Until next time...