December 15, 2014
Filed under Jess Goes West
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It’s only been a week since Semester in the West ended, and I have already transformed a nomad to couch potato. Last night, curled up in my sleeping bag, I watched a TV special of The Princess Diaries 2. As I was tearing up, touched by Anne Hathaway as she led orphaned children in a parade, it became immanently clear to me that maybe my adjustment to civilization is not quite complete. I have stuffed emotions from the semester into the recesses of my brain that clearly only a preteen chick flick can access.
I have been asked approximately 58 times, “So how was Semester in the West?!” To which I have promptly replied, “It was awesome.” Because what else can I say? How do I sum up 100 days of my life, a trip unique to all other experiences? I can’t.
But if I was being honest, the trip wasn’t ALWAYS awesome. Living and learning in a new environment, my emotions were amplified. Moments of bliss were coupled with moments of desolation. I cried more times than I will ever admit – the time a fellow Westie surprise jumped into my arms and I didn’t catch him, or when I walked alone in the snow. Yet other times I couldn’t open my eyes wide enough to take in all the majesty of the red rock arches, or run fast enough to catch the sunlight as it sunk behind aspen covered hills. There were moments where I felt desperately alone among 23 familiar faces, yet at other times I felt embraced by a new family. There were times I found my identity atop sandstone ridges, and times I lost it on desolate gravel roads in Nevada. I laughed, and danced, and slept beneath Orion’s bow. I stumbled, and lost my breath, and clenched my fists. I lost count of shooting stars, and the sun kissed my skin late into November. I was befuddled by conflicting western identities, and slapped awake by my own ignorance. I lived. I learned. I grew.
And it was awesome.