Press Pause

I flew Jet Blue today for the first time. It was a pretty excellent experience, and one that I can’t wait to repeat. Their La Perle Sauvignon Blanc was one of the tastier airline wines I’ve ever had, and the cheese tray was delicious. Throw in DirecTV, a heaping portion of Food Network, XM radio and and spritz of Hair Nation, and I was a happy camper.

Big points for all the controls being on the armrests instead of the seatbacks, too. With no added turbulence from any erratic and forceful button-pushing due to a fellow passenger behind me, the only thing we really had to worry about was a little bumpiness mid-country. Bliss.

Long about 6:15, we passed over a twinkling Chicago, its amber lights looking like gems from 35,000 feet, then over the dark nothingness of Lake Michigan. I realized we would likely also be on course for Lansing, the capitol just west of my alma mater — Michigan State University. Sure enough, we were, and I was able to look down upon illuminated highways I hadn’t seen since I drove home on them after graduation 12 years ago. The familiar bend of Grand River Avenue just north of the university was also visible; the campus smiled from below, and I missed it.

When I was there for school, I spent each semester counting down to the time when I’d be home again. The cross-country drive was the fun part, but the minute I’d unpack and get settled, I’d think to myself, “OK, 12 weeks till Thanksgiving, then home, then three weeks till Christmas, then home again.” The spring was similar: so many weeks till spring break, then so many weeks till the summer.

It was a time when I never felt emotionally settled, never felt content, never could manage to fully get into the headspace where I 100% appreciated and made the most of my college experience. I did absolutely appreciate, however, the sacrifice my parents made for me to be there, but how can you really create as many meaningful moments as possible when you’ve always got one eye toward your next trip home?

It’s difficult.

That being said, I have a ton of great memories from my college years. I first tried sushi at a small place near the east end of campus, rushed (then promptly un-rushed) a sorority, played in the puddles during those warm, Michigan rainshowers, made snowangels when the weather turned, beheld the magic of Beaumont Tower framed by the fall foliage, learned to love Meijer and was introduced to Hungry Howie’s fabulous pizzas. I tailgated a few times, played roller hockey (poorly) a few times, and had a serious, debilitating crush on some guy who drove a campus parking shuttle.

Sometimes I wonder how many more great memories I’d have if I hadn’t always been looking ahead to the next time I’d be going home.

It’s something I still have a tendency to do in life, and so tonight I’m thankful for great weather and the clear night which revealed my old friend Michigan, and for the nudge I felt to stop fast-forwarding to the next great thing — but to press pause and make my current place and time wonderful in itself.

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