It's like an avalanche.
Starting slowly, with the rumble of the snow breaking away.
Gaining speed as it ferociously tumbles down the mountain.
Thirteen summers ago I moved onto the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University. The world was mine for the taking. My dad, my stoic dad, fighting tears, put his index finger on my nose in the parking lot of my new dorm and said something about making good choices, studying hard, and having fun. I don't actually remember the words he spoke, just that his finger was on my nose which was something he hadn't done since I was a child. I remember thinking, "Don't lose it, Dad. Don't lose it because then I'll lose it right here, right now, in front of any college student who happens by."
And thus began four years of learning, living, growing, changing, laughing. Thus began four years of incredible friendships built. I started college at the tender age of seventeen and began married life just three months after I graduated.
A lot happened in those years.
Literature. Theatre. Relationships. Professors. Chapel. Meals. Dorms. Jobs. Faith.
It's been thirteen years.
I could have started kindergarten and gone all the way through high school graduation since then. And that is what I mean about the time being an avalanche. Because, etched into my mind like it happened two days ago is that feeling of giddy excitement as I sat in my dorm room that first night, waiting for my life to happen.
Yesterday my niece moved into the same hall on the same campus. She was not quite six years old when I started college. "What floor? North or South? What room? What professors?" I bulldozed my husband with questions as he talked to her on the phone.
When he hung up I said with the weird sadness of nostalgia, "I want to go to college with Lexi."
Because you just can't shake off a place that changed you so profoundly.