Today we moved Straight Man into YU. As we waited for Straight Man to sign in and get his room and student ID, someone came over and put a bright red bracelet on my wrist that said, "Welcome To YU." It was the weirdest thing. I was being welcomed to YU as though I was a guest, except I was just a student in Stern three months ago.
It's bizarre to me that YC and Stern's first day of school is this Wednesday, and I won't be there. Stern was my home for the past four years - it feels like I still belong there!
Every year of our lives, we grow and develop as people. But my time at Stern was where I probably had my biggest growth spurt as a person. So many people think that sort of thing is supposed to happen during your year in Israel. There's that pressure before you go - are you going to "change?" How much are you going to "grow?"
But what does it mean to grow, anyway? I don't think you can go anywhere specifically to grow. I know in all the Israel school interviews, they ask why you're going to Israel and everyone always says, "To grow in my Judaism, to grow as a person..." But you can't plan when and where you're going to develop as a person. My most meaningful growth experiences have been the most ordinary kinds of experiences, and not meant for growth at all. They weren't in any way inspiring. Some of them were quite difficult. I was not on a high. I struggled. I listened. I observed. I learned about others and about myself. And I grew.
I know there is still a lot of growing left for me to do, but I have a feeling it will be of a different kind. Everything about Stern was a kind of dream. Now I feel as though I'm waking up into an unfamiliar place, and I have to get my bearings all over again.Yet enough of that dream has remained with me upon waking, and I will keep it close to me. I don't know where I'm headed now. It's all very much an adventure, I suppose. I just have to learn to stop looking back and concentrate only on moving forward.
But I do miss Stern already, and I can never thank anyone who has been part of that experience enough for what they have given me.