Sentences have been swallowed whole by my lists as of late, rambling prose reduced to items crossed off on my phone, laptop, the tired Post-It note clinging to my refrigerator by a single corner. There’s the trip, the future apartment, the other trip, the moving-out checklist. I keep them in separate online and tangible realms to maintain a sense of singularity. If I only see a single list, for a moment, it’s the only one that exists.
It is strange outgrowing a place I thought I could (and sometimes, would) stay forever. Things are winding down here: volunteer commitments, my lease, the job I’ve had and loved for nearly three years. My last Drake Relays for a while are coming up next weekend.
Everything here feels connected.
I’ve been running to different intersections from my Des Moines experience. Up Grand, up that never-ending hill with its menacingly slow gradient, up to 31st Street, where I used to live, up to Kingman Boulevard, where I first started running long distances during my freshman year of Drake. Back down Grand, where I did my first eight-mile run downtown my sophomore year, thinking I had achieved some ultimate distance.
Going into this summer feels drastically different from the last one. I’m healthy now, for one thing. I’ve learned to embrace the block button this year on my phone and social media. I’ve gotten better at remembering that I don’t owe toxic people a text back or anything else.
But Des Moines is where I figured all that out. Where I got sick and got better. Where a guy I liked told me he loved me. Where I learned how to be a professional. Where I started writing personal essays for survival and sanity rather than a grade. Where I met amazing, inspiring refugees and decided I wanted to dedicate my life to advocating for them.
Where I became someone I’m slowly learning to love.