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An Ode to BWI (& some other things I'll miss)

For the last 4.5 years, BWI has been my airport-of-choice, and, budget traveler that I am, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Spirit/United terminal of the years. That terminal is the pack-your-lunch-or-die type of terminal, the kind with a Quiznos and an Auntie Anne’s and nary a salad in sight.

Last week, I flew out of BWI, quite possibly for the last time. As I walked past the sketchy smoothie place and the misleading signs for a Chickfila that’s actually in another terminal, I felt a prick of emotion. Yes! my inner Enneagram Four squealed. Emotion about transition! At last!

But, confusingly, I was emotional at the thought of….never flying out of BWI again? Wave after wave of nostalgia overtook me as I remembered the BWI-launched trips I’ve taken. Trips with friends to Iceland and Miami; trips with coworkers to Houston; that time I nearly missed my flight for a 24-hour trip to California; and that time I flew to Dallas days after my uncle unexpectedly passed away, drinking a beer all alone in the unfamiliar Southwest terminal.

I remember having similar emotions about my last class of college. As soon as I sunk into the no-more-undergrad-classes-forever elation, a wave of sadness overtook me. I’ll NEVER have a class in Walker Hall again, I remember thinking. I’ll never have a class with these people or these professors or this latte from Espresso News.

Perhaps it’s easier to be sad about the saying goodbye to things we won’t actually miss than it is to be sad about the things that are really, really hard to lose. Because along with my last class of college came saying goodbye to my kooky little college town, to living inches from my best friends, to sweatpants as an acceptable form of clothing, to staying up past midnight and sleeping till my first class at 11 a.m. And while I won't actually miss BWI, I'm bracing for lots of goodbyes in the next few weeks.

Lancaster has been a strange & sweet season of my life, for so many reasons. And while I knew that Lancaster was never my “forever” place, it’s still strange to say goodbye after all this time. In so many ways, my move to Lancaster felt almost accidental—one day, I was an intern, looking for jobs in cities all around the world; the next, I was signing an offer letter and agreeing to be an indefinite Lancaster resident. I’ve joked a lot about moving to Lancaster kicking and screaming, but it was a lot more like waking up to find out that a peculiar dream you once had was true.

Never would I have guessed that I would have lived in Lancaster for this long—or that I would be so sad to say goodbye.

It’s disconcerting to sit in the space where the present is on the cusp of shifting into the past, where “now” is slowly becoming a memory. Lancaster was where I learned how to be an adult (mostly), and that it actually doesn’t suck (mostly). It’s where I learned that a shared love of fries is all you need to forge a great friendship. It’s the community that carried me through grief after my uncle died, nearly three years ago. It’s where I learned to like beer & also Whole 30. Lancaster is where I saw how beautiful that a body of Christ followers can be—even if it doesn’t last forever. And it’s where I’ve made deeper friendships than I would have ever expected to find in this provincial town.

Lancaster, thanks for four wonderful years.


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