But what if you fly?

My sister flew down last Friday for the long weekend. I think I last saw her in May, so we were both quite excited to have one-on-one time before she leaves for the Big Apple tomorrow. We had some plans but she and I have always been able to do anything and still have fun. We explored the historic city of St. Augustine on Saturday, read our books on the porch during the rain storm on Sunday and soaked up the blessed sun on Monday at Peter’s Point. She cooked us huge meals all weekend (yet the leftovers only lasted us 12 hours after she left because I live with a human garbage truck, AKA my always-hungry husband) and she taught me a thing or two substituting ingredients and other useful kitchen tips! I so love my sister and who she is becoming. It has been a rocky road for the both of us — high school and college have not been nice to either of us — but I turned out ok, I think, and she is too. I am so excited to see where to goes, what she does, who she impacts. She is certainly living the dream up there in New York!

But this weekend made me think about other things too. It has been almost two years since I left home and moved down to Florida with Ben. I remember how I felt that December when I packed my bag and flew down the day after my last college final. Giddy, nervous, relieved.

I also remember how I felt when I got that phone call from my mom a month later. Tears, anger, guilt.

At the time, I didn’t realize what I was doing. I had left home, flew the nest, runaway to be with “some boy” — my family couldn’t comprehend it. I couldn’t comprehend it. I still don’t know how I did it.

I rarely spent a weekend on campus. I normally came home because I couldn’t bear to be away from my parents. I wasn’t your typical crazy college student until my junior year. I had a hard time finding myself, identifying who I was and where I wanted to go. During that time, I think I actually lost myself. I’m still trying to get back to the old me. But I wonder, maybe I’m not supposed to go back to the old me. Maybe who I am now is what I need to focus on. For better or worse, this is who I am and what I did two years ago cannot be changed.

I remembering realizing that I had not just flown down to visit my boyfriend. I had actually moved here. With whole life waiting for me 600 miles north, I was little ole’ me with one suitcase and a long-distance boyfriend in the flesh with small double-wide trailer to welcome me in.

Why did I do it? Why did I leave home so suddenly, so abruptly? That last semester of school, I just knew I needed to be with Ben. It went beyond the yearnings and unrealistic dreams of young love. It was a quiet, bold, steady gut feeling that we needed each other and the only way that would happen is if I came to him.

We got engaged the next month, in January. We were married a year later. I know without a doubt he is mine forever, just as I am his forever.

Looking back, I know I would have ruined our relationship had we remained long-distance. Had I stayed at home, worked in DC — stuck with the plan — Ben would become second, then third, then a distraction, then an afterthought.

Often our plans are not the right plans. Often we go about our own plans despite knowing they are not right. Other times, we wreck havoc without thinking about the collateral damage. I had a plan and then it changed. I did not go about it gracefully, however. I wrecked havoc with my family and caused a lot of pain.

Guilt soon became an overwhelming force. In the months after our engagement, we were desperate for jobs, money, a roof over our heads, some stability. Not the greatest environment for a soon-to-be-married couple, right? I again wondered why I left home. I could’ve had a decent job in DC, like the plan had me lined up for. But I chose otherwise and I was living with the consequences. Or so I thought.

As time went on, I realized I would’ve hated working in DC. It’s too crowded, too posh, too political (and this is coming from a political science student) — for me. I take joy in the quiet life. I realized that I wanted a life outside of work. I wanted a job that let me come home and do what I wanted and not have to continue working. Where I work now allows me to do that (yay).

While I have fleeting thoughts of regret, I still continue to believe that I made the right decision when I left home. Granted, I could have done it differently. But I was meant to be with Ben. I was meant to be with him that winter, last year, now. God has plans for us all. They don’t go the way we think but the gift of hindsight allows us to understand why things happened the way they did.

I am forever grateful for my family — their patience, their understanding, their forgiveness; I am truly sorry to all those I hurt when I left. I hope you understand now that it was what I needed to do for myself. It had nothing to do with you. I needed to restore faith in my stubborn self that I could make it in this world, that my parents had raised a strong, independent and self-sufficient young woman. All those years of self-doubt and distrust in my own self came to a halt that December. I had made up my mind. I needed to go. I couldn’t have done that for myself if I hadn’t left.

So to my sister, I thank you for allowing me to reflect on these last two years. I hope and pray you don’t make the same mistakes I did, but yet you allow yourself the opportunities to fly. You know who you are, sometimes you just need to take that leap to realize it.

And know that if you think you are falling, you might actually be flying.

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