That tall brownstone in the photo, the one with Loyola University of Chicago painted on its side, is Lakefront Hall. A college dorm made up of small apartments. 3C was the apartment I shared with Molly, Roseanne, and Jennifer freshmen year; sophomore year with Molly, Stephanie, and Erin. I loved that apartment---looking out over Lake Michigan, it felt as if you were on a ship. You couldn't see land, and you could fall asleep to the sound of the waves hitting the building below. Junior and senior year I lived in my own apartment in the same building as a resident assistant. I had amazing supervisors and mentors, Bill Gehant and Kris Coyle, who taught me as much as my professors did. I grew up there, came into myself, learned so much there.
I loved my life at Loyola. I had an amazing community of friends, a wonderful boyfriend, a city full of life and energy all around me. Which is why I was so afraid to leave. And why I consider it brave, in retrospect, that I did. My parents wanted me to stay in Illinois, take a teaching position and turn down grad school. Or, more accurately, my mother wanted me to. Now that I have children of my own, I can understand her reluctance to let me move across the country on my own. Back then, it seemed like just another attempt to crush my happiness.
My father left his hometown at a much younger age, left his country and then his continent. I only appreciated his bravery when I was older, homesick for my own homeland as a volunteer overseas. In his own way, he gave me the encouragement I needed that summer of 1991.
Leaving the familiar, breaking away, giving up what I knew. It wasn't brave in a "saving someone from a burning building" kind of way, but it did save me. I saved myself by facing those fears and trusting that, as good as life at Loyola was, I had to let it go in order to discover the life waiting for me.
Only after writing this, I've realized that letting-go and trusting-the-unknown have been themes in my life. Perhaps it is a theme of every life, just part of being human and living with change. Still, in hindsight I see all the best choices of my life have been those in which I've relinquished the reins, let go of the known and been open to change. And each time I've called on the eager excitement, curiosity, and courage of my 21-year-old self.
Photo taken on my trusty Canon Snappy-Q on the top of Mertz Hall in 1991.
Photo+Quote is a monthly series that I’m using to dig deeper into my own archives. On the 15th of every month we are challenged to pair a chosen quote with a photograph.You can see how the other photographers in the series interpreted this month’s quote by following the blog hop to Pam Parisi at P Squared Studios in California.