Until today, I wasn’t ready to leave Boston.
When I came here, I was a freshly minted college graduate ready for an experience that would help me to shape the rest of my life. College had been incredible, but I knew that the people and the place were too comfortable. I needed something new. I wanted to push myself. I wanted to learn. I wanted to “find” myself.
I arrived in Boston unsure of what I really wanted to do in life, only knowing one person in the city, and with no idea what the year would hold. One of the first places I discovered in my neighborhood was a place called Jamaica Pond. This beautiful pond was only a mile away from my house and it allowed for a pleasant 2 mile run where I could enjoy the water and all the trees. I started to come here quite a bit, and I knew from the beginning that this would be the place I would always remember from my time in Boston.
I ran around the pond in the summer and admired amazing sunsets and wondered with excitement about what the year would hold. I ran around the pond in the fall and discovered that I could take a path nearby all the way to Fenway Park. I marveled at the fact that I was running in 40 degree weather; I was so proud of myself. I took pictures of the birds and fall foliage.
I didn’t run around the pond all winter. I drove past and spared a longing glance at the tall snow. During the winter I struggled with the new weather. I struggled with feeling like I was making a difference to my students. I struggled with my personal life. But Boston did begin to feel like home, and in January I went to the pond for my first time sledding.
In the spring I nearly forgot Jamaica Pond. I was busy taking trips, spending time with new friends, lesson planning for my students. I had finally settled into life here… and then I decided to leave.
Earlier this summer I seriously reconsidered my decision to return to LA. I had grown so much in Boston, I reasoned, that returning to everything that was comfortable and easy would be like erasing all of that progress. I was more confident, more adventurous, and in many ways I had become a different person (or maybe I had become more myself). I didn’t want to let that go; I didn’t want everything that happened in Boston to feel like a dream.
Eventually I decided that I had to leave, to return to the best school in the universe. I have to look at this as a new challenge: a challenge not to recede in growth, a challenge to keep finding new ways to adventure. All year I had been thinking about a tattoo (something I never would have thought would happen a few years ago). The tattoo would say “and in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me.” This quote, from Let It Be, means everything to me. It means that no matter how bad things are- no matter how difficult the students, no matter how cold the winter, no matter how much I don’t want to go back- there is hope right in front of me. And it also means that the best is yet to come.
Last week I got that tattoo, and in doing so I proved to myself that the changes I’ve undergone this year are permanent. I am leaving Boston as someone who knows herself, someone who isn’t afraid to show what’s important to her, someone who always has hope. Someone who challenges herself and gets closer to her true self more and more every day.
This morning I went for my last run around Jamaica Pond. To mix a bit of familiarity with that ongoing need for a challenge, I did the run with no shirt on, baring my tattoo for the world to see. And it felt amazing. I marveled at how once this pond had seemed so beautiful to me, and that now I was used to it; I am used to expecting and finding beauty in my life.
Finally, I finished my last Jamaica Pond run. I pressed the “stop” button on my running app. The app always gives options: “Take Me Back” and “I’m Done.”
This year I have grown and changed and adventured and been incredibly challenged. But that’s not because of this year, it’s not solely because of Boston, and it’s not just from running around the beautiful Jamaica Pond. It’s because of me.
Take me back. I’m done.