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Posts Tagged ‘accomplishment’

Ayres HallFor some reason, May is a month of change for me.  Graduations are everywhere, professors and parents are sending off their young ones, preparing them for a world of work, education, and challenge.  They may not always make it known, but parents always have a spot in their hearts yearning for their children to come back home someday.

Parents don’t always know it, but sometimes the lessons and values they teach their children stick with them.  The warm feelings of hot chocolate on the couch during a cold wintery day and homemade potato soup for a sore throat stay with us for a long, long time to come.

Those warm feelings, memories, smells beckon me back time and time again to the country town where everyone knows each other on a first-name basis, if you run out of gas someone you know isn’t too far away, and there’s only a scarce few red lights you can run at night when no one is watching.  The smell of Red Door on a big sweater never fades; the smell of Old Spice mixed with old man never ages on a white button-down shirt, nor does the sound of Dad’s radio in the garage grow silent.  Things like that never go away.

It’s been three years since I graduated from high school and moved to Knoxville for furthering my education at the University of Tennessee.  Most of those three years I beat myself up for coming here over a guy I ended up breaking up with halfway through my sophomore year.  Sometimes I still regret my decision, at least, until Sunday night.

All students here at UT have thought about, at least once, about going on the roof of the esteemed Ayres Hall on the Hill.  It’s easily the highest point on campus, and it looks over all of downtown, campus, the Fort Sanders area, and beyond; it truly is a sight to take in for yourself.

My friends, Rob, and I (after roasting marshmallows at the Torchbearer, another UT landmark) roamed over to the Hill and parked.  We walked up the road, and since Ayres is under renovations and fenced off, we had to find a way through the fence.  We did, and after finding a way into the building, walked in.  We walked through the main area, up the flights of stairs until they ended on the third floor, then found an alternate, metal staircase that took us up to the fourth floor and ultimately the bell tower.

I have a fear of heights—and immense, horrifying fear of heights.  At this point, it was obvious that no one should have been allowed into that portion of the building, and I was getting nervous.  We were SO close to the top, but I couldn’t manage to muster the courage to climb the last few sets of steep stairs to the “dark room,” then the roof.

I just knew I wasn’t going to make it, and I would have stayed at the bottom until everyone made it to the top, then came back down.

One of the girls in the group came back down the stairs and gave me a pep talk.  “I’m not going to leave you down here alone,” she said, “but I’m not NOT going up there, either.”  Basically, I had no choice but to finish my climb and make my efforts worth something.

It was dark.  I was scared.  With what little light there was, I could see straight through the stairs and all the way to the bottom.  It was a long, long way down (for me, at least).

To her (and my) surprise, I decided I was going to finish my journey to the top.

I followed the people in front of me, and when I felt the rush of fresh, cool air hit my face I knew I had made it.

I climbed out of the hole and onto the flat roof.  The first thing I saw was Neyland Stadium below, then the sparkling river reflecting the light from the moon and stars, then Downtown Knoxville, and then the faces of the people I had made it with.
A smile crept across my face the way we crept around the Hill from the community service officer below.  And then excitement hit me.

If it hadn’t been for the fear of getting caught, I would have yelled from the roof top, “I’m the king of the world!”  It felt like I’d just climbed Mount Everest, and every time I pass by Ayres I smile and think of that night, the mischievousness,  the fear, the accomplishment, the view.  I was on top of the world, and after that I knew I had come to UT for a reason, if only for staring my fear straight in the face and conquering it.  Of course, I met the love of my life here, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything, but I feel like somewhere down the road we would have met anyway.

Since that night, I’ve been thinking a lot about the person I was when I graduated from high school.  I’m not the same person.  She would have never done anything like that; she was too timid and never did anything wrong.  The person I am today knows that life isn’t worth living if you can’t take risks, but knowing which risks to take is half the battle.  Some rules are meant to be broken.

But, sometimes in life, you need to go back home to get in touch with your roots, know where you came from and never forget it.  Remember the morals and beliefs you were raised with, because they are your foundation.  My brother once described my mother in one word: port.  She sends us off into the world, however, she’s always the place we go back to for stability.  For me, she’s the lighthouse.  She warns me of dangers nearby, but gives me a light to follow to come back home.  She’s my stability, my rock, my foundation.

Mom, I love you.  Always.

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