It would appear that I left Lawrence, Kansas seventeen years ago.
It would appear that way because my dad drove a U-Haul full of my worldly possessions back to Denver, I quit my job teaching math to bouncy junior highers, and technically I didn’t have a mailing address in Lawrence any longer.
It would appear that way on the outside, but that’s not exactly how my heart saw it.
The plan was for my treasures to be stored for two years in my sister’s basement while I was in China and then return home to normal life.
I loved living in Lawrence. It was where I have gone to school, become an adult, learned more of who I was and met many dear people. I thought that after two years in China I would be back in my beloved Lawrence. And while I was gone, Marla would hold my place.
Marla and I had shared an apartment off of Mississippi Street near the football stadium at the base of the KU campus. We were single, young, and employed (so we each had some discretionary money). I was in recovery from living two years as the only live-in staff at a group home for unwed pregnant teens. An important and wonderful job; but it cost me my compassion and I needed to recover or risk losing core parts of myself.
Those two years were magical and carefree. Anyone in need of recovery should have a Marla in their life. She embodies the kind of fun that doesn’t come along often. For two years we took Lawrence by storm and embraced life to the FULL.
Leaving was softened by the reality that as long as Marla was there, a piece of me would be there too.
Clearly two years have passed and, not surprisingly, life has gone on for Marla as well. She met a great guy, became a home owner, started her family and most recently became Dr. Marla.
“Amy, I’ve taken a job as the head registrar at North Kentucky University,” Marla excitedly told me.
“But then that means I’m really leaving Lawrence,” I replied, not trying very hard to hide my own personal sadness.
“But you’ve been gone a long time.” She rightly pointed out. When I recounted this conversation to my sister she also pointed out that I have many others I know in Lawrence.
Both are true statements.
But it turns out that Marla was my placeholder. What do you do when your place holder isn’t there any longer? And your place is no longer held?
I cried. I’ve been sad all over again even though years have passed and my grieving doesn’t make sense to others in light of my so-called obvious reality. As oddly as it sounds all these years later, it turns out I’m leaving Lawrence.
Another U-Haul has been packed and a piece of me moved last week to Kentucky. Marla, I truly wish you the best. Lawrence’s loss is Kentucky’s win (as a Jayhawk fan, you know how I hate that sentence! But I love you and since part of me is now there, I’ll get over it!). Even though I didn’t know how much you were holding my place until you told me you were leaving, thanks for holding it for so many years. It’s your time to go, blessings on your new adventure! Love, Amy