“You’re going in the sky?” my three-year-old nephew asked me yesterday, a hint of concern in his voice. I hummed affirmatively in his ear and kissed his cheek as I lifted him out of his carseat. We were at the airport; he had come along with my mom and dad to see me off (but mostly to see some planes, big ones). “Is it scary?” I assured him that no, no it wasn’t. That flying was exciting; that it was fun.
But it is scary, too. I just won’t tell him that part until he’s older. And when he is, I’ll tell him it’s because traveling so quickly accelerates displacement. Displacement is change; change is scary. I know this pretty well by now.
When I moved to Boston two years ago for graduate school, everyone said I was going to fall in love there and never come back. They meant it romantically. They meant I was at the age where I should be dating seriously and they hinted, perhaps unintentionally, that I was running out of time. Or it could be that I merely perceived it that way. As I packed up my apartment into boxes and into my dad’s red pick-up truck, I laughed and thought they could not have been more wrong. I was leaving after all, and I most certainly hadn’t fallen in love.
Except that I had. I’d fallen in love with my chosen field of study, and in that labor of love worked countless unpaid hours as an intern to supplement my coursework. I’d fallen in love with two little boys–whose baseball pants I scrubbed with OxiClean and whose foreheads I kissed at night–and the idea of one day being a mother. I’d fallen in love with my God, and the space of grace that is Harvard Memorial Church where I relearned how to praise him, how I was meant to praise him. I’d fallen in love with a friend so dear and complementary that I can surely see her one day standing beside me with my sister and a few others if and when I do find the love many thought I would have by now. It strikes me, that these loves I have found, and will keep forever, aren’t the kind that hold you in any one place. They’re the kind that push you ahead and chant in your ear, “Go! Do! More!”
I noticed when I began telling people about moving to San Francisco no one told me I was going to fall in love. Maybe they know better by now, that about two to three months of casual dating will inevitably crash and burn if one of the parties involved is me (it’s scientifically proven). But when the plane landed here and the gentleman next to me asked if I was coming home, I said “I guess.” And when he asked if I wanted to get coffee sometime, I said “Yes.” Because flying, life, love–they’re all scary. But fun and exciting, too.