Thoughts from the Open Road

Want to reflect on your life? Drive for 17 hours with a view like this.
And a view like this …
You get the idea.

[Editor’s Note: The following post was largely assembled in my head while driving from Denver to Phoenix on an impromptu trip home last Sunday.]

When I last left you, I was experiencing some anxiety about returning to my alma mater for an event that I wasn’t quite sure I should be attending. Self-doubt plagues all of us as too do thoughts of things we wish we’d have done better. Both these things haunted me heading into the weekend. But as I am prone to do, I mentally slapped myself, sucked it up and moved forward. And I am so grateful I did. I had a beautiful visit with old professors, treasured friends and my then-21-year-old self. All visits back should be so incredible.

I’m just happy to be here and included in this fine group.

The night before the induction ceremony, I walked the campus, slowly and thoughtfully, stopping at times to remember certain moments when I was younger and full of ideas. It struck me how I would have never guessed then about the life that I have now. I would have told you then that 13 years later I’d be a magazine editor somewhere fabulous and married with a family. I would have NEVER told you someone would try to rape me in Rome or that I’d be an anti-sexual violence advocate. Such are the rose-colored glasses of youth.

The visit to my old college was nostalgic in a comfortable way and flooded me with sweet memories I had somehow buried. Also, it provided that elusive element of closure we so rarely get. I reconnected with a professor who I have written about here previously and spoken about during my Clinton School speech; she was the woman I thought of when I was standing in the US Embassy in Rome trying to decide if I should press charges against Marco. She never got her chance at justice and it seemed horribly unfair for me to squander mine. Thus, we are infinitely entwined through that moment and through the love and respect for Professor Glavin.

Professor Glavin over our shoulders, just as it should be.

Though I attended the event alone, it never felt that way. I am extremely fortunate that God has placed people in my life who never let me fall even when it seems like I might. You’d think I’d know this by now. After all was said and done, after hugging beloved professors and friends, I sat outside my college in a very special place to let some memories wash over me. It brought tears to my eyes as I clearly recall sitting in that same spot only a few days from graduating grad school and trying to imagine how my life would pan out.

So perfect. If you knew him, you’d understand.

In that moment, and in the many hours after, I found my peace with the life I have now for it is not built on broken dreams or unseized opportunities; it’s built on the knowledge that I’ve always done my best with whatever came my way even when I got knocked sideways or my heart broken. That’s all we can hope for, I think.

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