Don’t change a thing. Her last edit for me. Who is the young woman she’s come to know?
I’ve spent the past three years enthralled by space. It is what I write, read, and create. I still have my first astronomy handbook, heavily annotated. I bought it for a program called PARI, although the directions were explicit that I didn’t need to mark up, let alone read, this text. But I wanted to be worthy of the bright, inspiring people who I would meet. I needed them to know my willingness for growth.
For several days after leaving PARI, I withheld my experiences. I couldn’t describe them out loud; I thought the past tense might signal an end. Eventually I did share some stories: high-altitude car rides, rainy expeditions to sheltering telescopes, and dear friends I was reluctant to let go of. I simply belonged.
I’ve lived everyday on that mountain. We never leave the spaces that make us feel whole.
Months later, I found more land to explore with Joy Tekotte and her newspaper class. We rolled down highways laid out for Journalism Days, trekked across campus to shaded park benches, and felt the weight of dear friends moving on. I wish I could stay a lifetime, but there’s another PARI waiting.
Even now, I periodically flip through my astronomy book, whether to facilitate a new project or remind me of what it feels like to love learning. Don’t change a thing. If I say this out loud, will it mean the end? I can’t decide, but something tells me you’ll always be in the present tense.