Please welcome today’s guest writer, Aemelia Tripp. Aemelia is a 2013 graduate who majored in strategic communication and minored in music. She owes her love of song to her father, who introduced her to the world of Bob Dylan. Aemelia lives in Grand Rapids and is a proud mom to many plants.
I’ve stayed a lot. In relationships I knew were sour and in jobs I felt were dull. But I’ve also pushed through piano and voice lessons even when I thought I would never learn the notes. And I’ve stayed in Grand Rapids, even after many others left. When I thought I’d be the first to go.
I love the city I now call home, but it’s never been my destination. My post-college plan was to move to New York City, where my dreams would come true. I would become a famous writer, no Broadway singer, nooo, indie musician! The world was my oyster! And I was determined to find my perfect pearl. But graduation came, friends stayed, and I had no reason to leave, so I found a full-time job and settled in for what I told myself was one year. I would move to Chicago in September where I had a couple other friends. The seasons passed faster than I imagined and suddenly I wasn’t ready to go, even though four of my closest friends were scattering. I was still learning valuable skills at my job and, even though the commute was long, I just felt like I wasn’t ready to leave Grand Rapids. So I did what I never thought I would. I stayed. While they left for big cities and overseas adventures, I was the one who stayed.
The next year brought more changes—my roommate got married and moved out; I quit my job. The world was once again at my fingertips! I told myself THIS was the September I would leave. I put out feelers in Chicago, and I was getting ready to bolt. But then I met someone. I promised myself I would never put off plans for a relationship, but this one seemed different. I wanted to see where it would go, so I stayed. September was coming too soon, and I had no place to live in Chicago. I had no reason to leave other than for change, so I stayed again.
A few years have passed, more friends have left, and I’m still here. It’s not a bad thing that I continue to stay. It’s just unexpected, and the “unexpectation” brings me a sense of urgency to complete those things that remain undone. Many times I have to remind myself to be present in the now and recognize that dreams are fluid—they can change or even tousle their timelines.
I’ve also realized what I’ve gained by staying. Building deeper friendships with others who stayed and learning the work it takes and the value in keeping up with relocated friends. Finding a sense of pride when a visitor asks for directions and I can describe the fastest route and the landmarks nearby. Having a favorite brewery and coffee shop, where the barista knows my regular order and how to spell my name. These feelings of home that take time to build have made me stay.
I’ve chosen Grand Rapids, over and over again, always to my surprise. So here I am, and September is back, and Grand Rapids is where I stay. For now.