My arrival marks my last few hours of privacy, for quite awhile.


At about 10:00am of June 6, 2018, mom and I stop to eat at a place, kind of in the middle of flat desert middle of California. I don’t know the name of the place and I don’t know exactly what I ate, but I know there are a lot of little potatoes involved. The theme of this place is the old school diner gig with Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, I Love Lucy, and my favorite Andy Griffith show. When I start drinking my water there, I start feeling an ill type of nervous. I don’t know if I want to do this. Maybe mom will fly me back. I feel bad for mom because I don’t feel like talking the rest of the way to Sacramento. We arrive an hour later and it is so hard to say goodbye to mom, so we both do it as quick and as strong as possible. I turn away from mom and the car, turning toward about six strangers in these very serious looking uniforms, ironed khakis and dark green shirts. I am wearing a short navy blue dress with white polka dots. The second or third thing I notice is that they all have iPhones clipped to their belts. I have a quick thought, “I’m never going to do that.” My next thought actually ends up being true, “And this is my new family.” After completing the logistic mumbo jumbo of arrival, I have my stuff sack of gear, my two personal bags, and I walk up to a team leader exclaiming, “I’m coming home!” And as I say it, she pivots from her excitable presentation pose and her face changes to concern. “Oh I’m sorry! I mean this as my home, I’m not going back home!” Her face relaxes from concern to a light-hearted professional and she moves forward with showing me to my new building. The two feelings inside me are humor and the high hope that that moment was not a foreshadow of being dismissed from the program. Her name is Bridget and she has a team leader named Tara by her side and the first thing she explains to me is regarding the laundry room. “Make sure you are really keeping track of your laundry timing because there are only so many machines for everybody.” Another fleeting yet potent thought, I haven’t lived in a dorm in four years. Is this really what I want? I really just want some time to get to know myself, can I really do this in an environment where I am sharing living space with 100 people? We proceed to the second floor, walking by many doors with many different chalked names on each door. We arrive to the very last door on the left. The name ‘Julia’ is written next to my name in chalk on the door. Before Bridget opens the door, she says, “I did not personally check this room, I’m so sorry if it isn’t clean.” As the door opens, the room looks perfectly fine and freshly vacuumed. I have had a memory at this moment of moving into my first ever dorm room in college. I was the first student to move into my room that day, too. Bridget and Tara leave me to my room, to my final hours of privacy. As someone who heavily values alone time, this is a powerful span of time for me. The quote in the picture above is found in Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, which I was one quarter through by June 6. Later this year, I will have read Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, a life changing book that introduced me to the idea of the…

“Wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared.”

This particular moment, standing in my new, never-before-seen-by-me Home, is a moment of my Wilderness.

*So what does a moment of your wilderness look like?*

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