Back Again

We didn’t fly much when I was a kid. We were a road-trip-and-camping family. These road trips were long affairs–typically way down to California and back–but they were for sure on the ground.

That’s why flying always seems like a miracle to me, and a bit like cheating. Driving takes time, but it makes sense. You see every mile pass the window. It takes ten hours to get from Frankfurt to Seattle. That’s a long time to sit in a plane–especially a plane without those little screens on the back of the seat in front of me–but the same ten hours in the car would have gotten me to, I don’t know, Amsterdam. Not to Seattle. Flying makes the world seem smaller.

That’s why this weekend–during which I attend the graduation of Holly and Donna Dahlstrom, my sister and mom–feels so surreal. A week ago, I sat in the auditorium of my new home, trying to memorize the faces of students I’ve known and loved for two years, before they disappear for good. Today, less than 24 hours after leaving Germany, everywhere I look there have been black-robed graduates and vaguely familiar faces, set against this background that I know and don’t know. I greet my old professors, see classmates also there to cheer on siblings or get master’s degrees, eat catered cookies and drink Starbucks coffee that taste exactly the same as they did when I started coming here, ten years ago. It’s been a while, but it feels like home.

This is my second weekend of graduation festivities, and the last two weeks of endings and beginnings, transition and travel, have reminded me of both the beauty and the tension of this international life. In the last two years I’ve come to carry around an image of the connections that we make, picturing each relationship as a brightly-colored rubber band that stretches and bends, flexible enough to encompass the wide distances that separate us from family and friends wherever we are. I think of the students that have just left BFA, even the ones that are merely spending summers away before returning in the fall, considering how scattered we all are, this community that usually covers only a few square kilometers.

For eighteen months, the bonds that connect me to Seattle have been the stretched out ones, and today I stand near my own family and old friends, thankful for this home that’s drawn me back to itself for this season. I’m thankful to be here, renewing the friendships maintained over long distances while I’ve lived in Germany. Proud of my family, blessed by the people who’ve raised and supported me to a Christ-filled adulthood, I’m excited to be home for the summer.

Holly, Mom and I at Ivy Cutting for Seattle Pacific University graduation weekend.

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