I moved to Auburn with a hopeful heart, full of expectations. I would meet a good, Christian boy. We would date. We would fall in love, get married. Never mind that I had a good, Christian boy I said goodbye to when I left home.
This was it-my adventure. This is what I had been waiting for.
I sat in the passenger seat of a Ford Explorer my first summer there. Pulling out of the Taco Bell drive thru, I wondered about the immaculate condition of his car. I wondered why all boys’ cars seemed so much cleaner than mine. There were no napkins or discarded gas station receipts scattered across his floormats. Noticing this, I removed my feet from the dash and wondered if I would measure up, be good enough.
“Be good enough,” I told myself. So I nodded politely when he talked about his favorite band that I considered obnoxious (I have a strong prejudice against the mandolin) and stared placidly out the window as he sang both parts to “Just Give Me a Reason”. Who was he singing to? It wasn’t me.
“Be good enough. This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for.”
But the thing is, it wasn’t. I only thought that because somewhere in the trek between childhood and a tortured teen, I forgot a few very important truths.
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made- unique and beautiful, and my identity is within my own soul.
- My adventure awaits. But I wasn’t thinking big enough.
- God knows me. Really KNOWS me, and He isn’t going to compromise or let me settle for less than what my heart was created for.
I was only thinking about boys. I thought my adventure- my happy ending- was with an Auburn boy. Any boy. Just a boy in general, really.
Maybe this boy.
I was wrong.
In my time there, I took similar drives with similar boys from those same backroads to drive thru windows. I called it Magic, because I didn’t know.
It’s funny to me now the devastation I fell into when these strings of tapered conversations and late night drive thrus ended. Each time, between the windshield and the dark staring at the stars, I managed to lose myself. My identity became the boys I idealized, who I still believed to be my future- The Thing I was looking for.
I should have known myself better than that.
Summer always came around in Auburn, and the boys always left. They were in love with someone else, or it just wasn’t right, or there was somewhere else they needed to be. But for me, it was always an ending.
And with each ending, I began to love myself.
Those were my happy endings.
There’s a cheesey saying, but it’s a saying because it’s true- every ending is a new beginning. My ending in Mobile meant I moved to Auburn where I met some of my best friends. My endings with boys meant I learned about myself, and with each one I became more strong-more determined. I learned how to keep myself.
Summer always came around in Auburn, and in that particular summer of 2015, it was time to go. I drove away with my furniture and dog loaded into my mom’s Honda Odyssey, and Auburn didn’t vanish or slowly fade in my rearview mirror. I knew the city with the fire tower we climbed on a dare, the old rope swing, memories of first dates and breakups and the people I loved would stand in my mind exactly as I had known it-awaiting my arrival-waiting for me to return.
I cried that last night in my house alone. My bed was loaded up. My roommates were gone. But tomorrow-tomorrow I would drive to Nashville.
What a happy ending.