The sun splinters through trees that bask in the evening light. The air is thick and heavy — another muggy, post-rain, Georgia afternoon. With each stride, my breath deepens and my exhaustion increases. “Just a few more meters and the run is finished.” I walk around the neighborhood to cool down and allow my body to relax after the afternoon run.
The neighborhood is one I’ve known for the 14 years I’ve lived in Georgia. Since 2004, my parents and I have called our house home, and more than half of my entire life is wrapped up in the walls of it.
Since I moved back in with my parents after two-and-a-half years of living on my own in a rented house with two of my best friends, I have struggled to grapple with the down-cast thoughts of not being a good enough child to maintain living on my own and of being “that kid that lives in their parents’ basement.”
I’ve struggled to accept that living with my parents for my final semester of college will be vastly beneficial — allowing me to save money to hopefully move to Washington D.C. upon graduation in December. I struggle with the perception of the people I know and who my parents know. Do they think I can’t provide for myself? Do they think I just freeload off my parents? Am I good enough? Do I believe I’m good enough?
I walked around our neighborhood, watching pricey Mercedes SUVs drive by and perfectly manicured lawns soaking up the last bit of light. I walked down the street my friends and I always hung out on when I was in middle and high school.
I envisioned the backyard football games. I reminisced on the games of manhunt we played, dodging between homes to escape being found by those searching. I remembered the fear that accompanied trying a new trick on my Razor scooter. I thought of the countless sleepovers spent playing video games until the sun rose again. I tried to recall the rules of the numerous made-up games we played.
I thought of the childhood memories that were tucked so far back into my brain that I had to sit completely still in the driveway after the walk concluded to recall the time our neighbors caught a rattlesnake in their backyard and all of the surrounding neighbors congregated in the street to catch a glimpse of it.
I tried to recall the times when my friends and I would cruise around on our BMX bikes, riding to the nearby gas station to spend our allowances on Gatorade and candy. I remembered the first relationships I experienced and how I thought at the ripe age of 14 that I had romance figured out. (As I approach 23, I know I’ll never have it figured out.)
I spent the 20 minutes after my run thinking about the last 14 years of my life. And for once, it all came back to me.
The noise of the day-to-day faded. The constant thought process of what is going on in the world and what I have to do tomorrow ceased. It all became silent. The only things I could hear were my thoughts and the soft notes of “Virile” by The Blaze bumping through my headphones.
As another car passed by the house, I thought about how much had changed over the past few years. I realized just how much this neighborhood and myself have become drastically different from what we were when I graduated high school four years ago.
I remember when I could walk around the neighborhood and know exactly who drove what car and what they did. I remember spending summer nights with friends and family throughout the neighborhood — whether it be on back porches, in swimming pools, or in driveways.
As I sit here, less than four months from graduating college, I realize just how quickly let my childhood escape my grasp. I never cherished it for what it was. I was so pressed to get here that was never there as much as I could have been. Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing childhood and I have truly amazing memories with amazing people. I just wish I hadn’t rushed it.
So, as I grapple with questions of worthiness and whether or not those around me somehow think less of me for moving back in with my parents, I realize I have been given such a beautiful gift — the opportunity to make the most of the rest of my life. These first 22 years and 11 or so months of my life have been incredible.
I’ve had some unbelievable opportunities that are only because of the grace and goodness of God. I have some absolutely incredible failures and awful moments also because of the grace and goodness of God. Both instances have made me who I am today.
Here’s to the final four or so months of my “school career” and to the rest of my life. 🤙🏼