I’m currently seeing a lot of Facebook posts about people starting up college classes. I think part of the reason I have so many posts about it on my newsfeed is that the high school students I taught while I was a student teacher are now in college. The juniors I taught are now juniors in college, and the freshmen I taught are now freshmen in college.
Seeing their posts – especially “my” old freshmen – make me think about my first few days and weeks in college. I was away from my parents for the first time. I was suddenly faced with so much responsibility and so much freedom. Of course, my first concern was friends, and it didn’t take long for one of my old high school classmates to start talking to me more and more. Soon we were dating. Now he’s my husband! (I’ll refer to him as DH for “Dear Husband”, since that’s what’s popular now.) But those first few days, weeks, and months at college were so much fun: wondering if DH liked me, always meeting up to go to meals together in the cafeteria or go to chapel together. DH and I each had bikes on campus, and we would meet at my dorm and then ride to class together whenever our schedules allowed.
Concordia University – Ann Arbor
College also made home more special. My home was a little rough while I was in high school, since I was still dealing with PTSD and depression. By the time college came around, I had been on Zoloft for two years, which helped me function enough to start healing. My parents got to see the process of that, but the end result really happened in college. It was fun to come home and simply have fun with them, rather than have them worrying about my health. It always felt good to come home and eat a home-cooked meal (especially my mom’s cooking).
But another home was introduced to me during college. DH often went home for a visit, and since our parents only lived 45 minutes apart, we could see each other occasionally (as much as gas prices allowed) during summer and holiday breaks. His parents were my teachers in high school, so I knew them as professionals. Now that I was dating their son, I had a glimpse into their private lives. My father-in-law (FIL) is a pastor at a little country church, and he and the family live in the old farmhouse next door. (A house owned by a church for use by the pastor is called a parsonage.) I had so much fun walking the country dirt roads with DH, watching him shoot hoops with his brothers or throw frisbees in the field while the lightning bugs twinkled around. Sometimes, I would get there really early in the morning so we could all go to church together. Everyone would be rushing around in the morning, taking turns using the shower, getting breakfast ready. It was pretty similar to my house. But at my house, church preparations always end with my dad waiting downstairs while my mom does the finishing touches on her appearance. Then we all load into the car for the 15 minute drive. At my in-laws, both my FIL and MIL are at the church since he preaches, and she plays the organ. That leaves the brothers and me. We all sit around and talk or munch on some breakfast. Finally, when there are about 5 minutes left before church starts, someone says, “Well, I guess it’s about time to go,” and we all walk out the front door and go right next-door to the church. We can always hear the church bell ringing from the house.
Seeing all these college Facebook posts made me a little sad that my college time is over, but then I realized that vicarage is a lot like both college and visiting home. Since the church is right next door, DH comes home for lunch or whenever he forgot something. I’ve been really busy at the church, going to two weekly Bible studies, plus Sunday morning church and Bible study, plus handbell choir practices. I feel like I have a college class schedule again. I leave our parsonage (dorm) and walk next door to Bible study (class).
When we go to church on Sundays, we no longer get in the car and drive there. We walk out the front door and across the street, just like at my in-laws. It has a comforting feel to it. I can hear the organ from the front porch.
I haven’t gone home yet. I’ve only been here a month. My parents came with us to help us move in, though. Once again, the difference between high school and now was obvious to us all: back then, I was struggling with a disease and learning how to live with it, but now I have the tools I need to be able to live with it (most days), and I’m more confident than I was before. I love being with my parents so they can see who their daughter turned out to be. It’s fun to simply be with them, knowing they are there for me if I need them.
I’m really enjoying this vicarage experience. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m going to cherish this while I can.