Please welcome today’s guest writer, Michelle Vecchio-Lyzenga. Michelle graduated in 2012 with majors in English and religion and a minor in church, society, and ministry. She and her husband, John, live in Princeton, New Jersey, where Michelle is entering her third year in Princeton Theological Seminary’s M.Div. / M.A. Christian Education dual degree program. When she isn’t doing schoolwork or writing for the Seminary’s web site, she enjoys working with her multiracial church in Trenton, having friends over to eat tasty things, and reading fiction.
Things move slowly in Princeton. Tucked away between the bustling Big Apple and the lively City of Brotherly Love, Princeton is, if not sleepy, aristocratically lethargic. Things do move here—a Sperry Top-Sider store opens on Nassau Street, a new artsy movie comes out at the little 1920s theatre downtown, yoga classes switch from Tuesday afternoons to Thursday evenings. Things change here…but at their own dignified pace.
After two years living in Princeton and studying at the Seminary, I have in many ways fallen under its charm. While the town’s Sperrys, yoga, and array of artsy movies are all but wasted on a seminarian on a tight budget, I’ve become enticed by life’s rhythms here. Morning walks to campus with coffee in hand, afternoons reading in one of several beautiful libraries, Saturday errands downtown on my basketed bicycle, Sunday strolls with John—it’s a pleasant pattern to fall into.
This isn’t to say that things are always idyllic in the Garden State, however. Readings pile up; papers have to be written; committee meetings are chronic and unavoidable; hurricanes, humidity, and cicadas are, turns out, a thing. Overall, though, the past two years have been, if not a dream, at least a pleasant limbo between college and what I’ve tended to think of as “Adulthood, Stage 2.”
As much as I’m enjoying my life and studies in Princeton, though, I’m reminded each time I visit, call, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, etc. my out-of-state family and friends that—as much as I’d like it to—the world doesn’t pause while I’m in dreamy limbo. Turns out family and friends get married, they have children, they accept new jobs, they take on new pleasant life patterns of their own.
As much as I want to be a part of their regular rhythms, the reality is that, for most of these family members and friends, I have to settle for occasional guest appearances. This has worked decently for the past two years—summer and Christmas visits to California, Thanksgiving and Easter visits to Michigan, with calls, cards, and letters to fill in. It works well enough, but the reality is that I have two nieces who have been born and learned to walk and talk in my absence (with two more on the way), a fiery 101- year-old Sicilian great-grandmother whose body is becoming increasingly slower than her tongue, and dear friends whose weddings I have, regrettably, not been able to attend.
This is growing up, I remind myself. There is no such thing as life limbo. The truth is, life doesn’t have a pause button, and it doesn’t divide neatly into stages. Even if it did, coordinating those pauses and stages with all the special people in your life is impossible. Believe me, I’ve tried. Some people have no appreciation for a well thought out five-year plan….
Overall, my life in Princeton is deceptively dreamy. Each week has its familiar patterns that mask the rapid passing of time all too well. I don’t want to wake up at the end of my time here and be like that other guy with a Dutch last name, having lost track of time, not recognizing or be recognized by some of the people I love most in the world. So I take a break from reading to make a phone call, I add stamps to the list of things to get downtown, I make Skype a regular part of my Sabbath…because the world spins madly on.