Wrapping up round 3, tying up loose ends in Deming, saying goodbye and preparing for the trip home consumed most of my attention, so it wasn’t until we were back on campus that it finally began to sink in that this was the end. Our 11 months of service with Americorps NCCC was coming to an end, and it was time for us all to say goodbye [see you later] and begin looking forward to the “What’s next?”. With my past of consistent travel, continually meeting new people and not long after saying goodbye, that part didn’t phase me too much, what was a shock though was having a wide open schedule. I had grown accustomed to having somewhere to be, people to look after, rules to follow and work to be done; now released on my own after graduation I finally had time to relax, or rather crash.
Sometime back in November I thought it’d be a good idea to buy a ticket for The Head and The Heart, playing at Red Rocks Amphitheater the night before graduation. While I swayed back and forth on keeping or selling my ticket over the last few months, I stuck with it and decided I could be tired later. Wednesday afternoon I wanted nothing more than to crawl into my bed at the end of the workday, but instead changed, threw on a touch of makeup (what’s that?) and was picked up by my friend Pete, along with three guys whom had been on my team. Red Rocks is an amazing venue, and I’m glad I kept the ticket, but I was also happy when it was over and time to go home and go to bed.
Graduation morning started early, and either a mix of my having only slept 4 hours or the margarita I’d had at the concert, I felt like utter garbage when I woke up. I took a 5 am cold shower ,hoping to rouse me out of my slumber and equipped with coffee, tea and water, made my way downstairs. The team leaders were expected to check corps members out of their dorms, ensure the rooms were clean and pack the vans and cargos for departure. We departed campus around 7:45 at which point I was finally beginning to feel human again. The graduation ceremony took place not far from campus at Eastern Hills “mega-church” in Aurora. I was lucky enough to have multiple visitors that day, my parents, our sponsor Nancy and her husband from Festus, MO, two volunteers Pat and Dawn who drove from Festus they loved and missed the team so much, and also Megan and Geoff from Saint Vrain Habitat for Humanity in Longmont. It’s not often that sponsors make the trip for graduation, so it meant a lot to me (and according to my boss, says a lot of me) to have so many in attendance. The ceremony was too long, of course, a few speeches could have been halved, but it was a great reflection on our year, a chance to take pride in and be appreciated for the work we had completed: 86 projects in 79 communities, for a total of 295,000 hours of service.
I knew I would reach the day where my body and mind gave up and said “no more”, but I decided to pack my schedule for the first few days following graduation to prolong this. The team leaders still had to tie up loose ends, the Friday following graduation, so we spent the morning completing last minute updates with our phones and computers before checking those in, along with our vehicles and unused uniform items and supplies. By noon I was packed and ready to go, said final goodbyes to staff and ‘see you soon’ to my counterparts, the others dressed in green for the last 11 months. That afternoon my parents picked me up, loaded my few bags of belongings into the van and we headed north, the beginning of our 10 day road trip home. I brought one of the other team leaders, Ashley, along with, as she had been wanting to visit Rocky Mountain National Park which was on our agenda for the following day, and we met up with my friend Pete who had come to town for the occasion (okay really it was The Head and the Heart concert that enticed him). We spent the afternoon in Boulder and were in bed by 10 pm, clearly all of us were some degree of exhausted.
Saturday morning was an early start in hopes of beating the crowds out to RMNP, however 6:30 proved to not be early enough, by the time we arrived at Bear Lake the roads were packed and parking lots full, even the shuttle parking lot was overflowing, leaving us looking for a plan B. We didn’t want to spend the whole morning driving around the park so we chose a nearby lot and ventured off on the Glacier Gorge trail from Sprague Lake. After about 15 minutes on the trail we discovered that it would take us all the way to Bear Lake, even better the trail was all ours, missing the hoards of people we had driven into the park alongside. I was somewhat bummed we wouldn’t make it to Emerald Lake (could have hiked longer but Pete had a flight to catch), but was still happy with having made it to the park, found a beautiful trail and moved my body. At the end of the trail we stopped by Sprague lake and were lucky enough to see a Moose, cherry on top of a pretty great day. Despite having gotten out in nature and working up a sweat, I was in a stink mood, and after saying goodbye to my friends wanted nothing more than to be alone. I whipped out my computer and began a new Korean drama, a guilty pleasure I had gone months without. The mental and emotional exhaustion of the last 11 months finally got me and I didn’t move from the couch from 3 pm onward, and it was glorious.
Congrats to Americorps NCCC SW Region Class 25!
A Year of Service
My life, being anything but predictable, has taken another turn. Rather than moving to Jeju, South Korea - my original plan for Fall '18, I'm going to test drive Denver, CO and its surroundings, an area people just keep telling me "I'd love".