Coming full circle: Nine years and a million tiny steps

March 13, 2012

Old Capitol

I have a very distinct memory of a random Wednesday during my senior year in college. I had received my job offer for the snazzy cubicle in Kansas City back in November, so the spring semester was an enjoyable, stress-free final four months of college for me. I had the job. I had the plans. I had a lease signed on a new apartment and a mid-summer, corporate start date. All I had to do was pass my classes to graduate.

As the semester drew closer to its end and the realization arrived that graduation was nearby, I was struck with the strong feeling that I should make note to enjoy this time. I remember it feeling overwhelming, the moment I was struck with it. It was around 10am. I was walking into campus early for a class, so the off-class hour kept the sidewalks and streets temporarily quiet. The weather was one of those late spring days that remind you summer is fast approaching. It was crisp and sunny, already with a hint of warmth in the air at mid-morning that foreshadowed of a warmer-than-expected afternoon.

I was walking into campus early for no reason. Or at least not one I can remember. But I do recall choosing to walk not just to get from my apartment to class but specifically because I could. I had the flexibility. I had the control. No one was telling me I couldn’t. Why not take a stroll?

So there I was, lazily walking up Iowa Avenue, approaching campus, when the moment struck. That moment. The one where I realized what I had ahead of me and therefore, what I should make sure I enjoyed now.

I had a great job to begin, a career to lanch, and one I was excited about. Holy crap, I thought. This might be the last beautiful, Wednesday morning in a long time that I will have the freedom to be able to lolligag down a picturesque campus street without an agenda.

So I stopped in my tracks. I recall allowing my hands to fall limply to my sides. I think there was a deep breath or two involved. I know that I looked up ahead from my spot on the sidewalk to look at the Old Capitol, the building that takes up residence in the center of the University of Iowa campus. I told myself, “Self, you need to remember this. You need to specifically take note of what this feels like so that you won’t ever forget it.”

I knew at the time that things were changing, that my freedoms were changing. So I took the moment to be grateful for what I perceived at the time as one of my last remaining moments.

One of my last remaining moments of freedom. Of flexibility. Of defining my own timeline.

That was May of 2003.

Last Friday, March 9th, 2012 the exact same feeling hit me.

I was sitting at the dining room table, my empty breakfast dishes pushed aside for the iPad upon which I was now reading my email. It was a beautiful morning. I had one afternoon appointment on my calendar and the rest of my day to define. Crisp and sunny, an unseasonably warm spring day. The dog had just asked to be let outside and was lying on the deck soaking in the morning sun. The clock said 8:56am.

The feeling, of freedom and peace, and the self-talk of, “Annie, take note, you should remember this moment,” followed quickly by the memory of the last time I said those words to myself, flooded over me. I turned to look out the window towards the back yard.

Almost nine years later, I had come full circle.

Previous post:

Next post: