There are some (many!) odd things about growing older. This is year 60 for me…which is almost incomprehensible. I mean, I was a freshman in college 42 years ago. That’s just…a very large number of years. And yet, I have to say, from when I entered my 30’s with a little more wisdom and life experience, until this very day, college age people are my favorites. It was SUCH a difficult time of life for me, and it is for them too. Consistently. It is a time of great upheaval, great challenges, life decisions and character formation. I love the process of supporting young people at this very important time of life. I decided to follow Jesus after my freshman year…and I think that was largely due to feeling so lost, and so in need of being known and understood. His very real love, guidance and presence in my life literally saved my life.
For the past six years I was joyfully back on a college campus, and not just any college campus, but the one where I spent five years trying to figure stuff out, play two sports, and get a degree. I love UCLA. It was one of the best and hardest times of my life, and I loved the opportunity of being back there. It was a hard decision to leave in June 2019 (that’s another story) and now that I’m not there, I go back as much as I possibly can! There are many lessons and stories and people I am pondering about my time working on campus...as I settle here in my new Nor Cal home. I’ll share probably, more and more, as these ponderings all settle into my soul, but for today, I would like you to know about Libby.
My working spot at UCLA was in the front office of the UCLA women’s basketball suite. It was wonderful working in that particular location because everyone, literally, had to walk by me to get into the suite. I was a sort of a “gate keeper” and the number one item on my job description was to create a friendly environment where people would feel welcome. How great is that?!
I’d like to think some people stopped by to see me, but I know the real draw was our candy jar. It sat right on my desk, free candy for all…and not just the cheap stuff. We are talking high quality, only the best…all types of chocolate, M&M’s, Snickers, Starburst…very sour candy whose name I can’t remember…and of course, a large tub of Red Vines sat right next to the candy dish. Score big time…you just had to say hi to the smiling lady working on her computer next to all the sugar. I had so many conversations…some very funny, some very deep…all were part of my job that I loved.
Early in the summer of 2018 a student-athlete who was working with the facilities office started stopping by. She introduced herself and took one piece of candy, very disciplined and smiling. I enjoyed her daily stops. Little by little, she started talking more. Our visits became more personal as I learned about her sport (rowing), her classes, her family and friends. She was letting me get to know her…isn’t that such a gift?! One day I came into work and she had left a thank you note, and two bags of candy to donate to the candy dish. Who does that??? Libby does!
In the course of my last year in my spot, Libby and I visited probably at least once or twice a week, sometimes more…sometimes less. Hard things happened that made us both cry…and funny things happened, that made us laugh hard…and of course, as life goes, lots of big and little things in between happened. This was just an easy and growing friendship between an old(er) woman and a kind college student who, I hope, found a safe place to just be herself.
As I left UCLA and she graduated, a very wonderful thing happened…we kept talking! Of course, it has been a bit more complicated as I live in our Nor Cal spot quite removed from the city of Los Angeles, and she is off and running into new life adventures all over the place. As much negative, stress producing reality we can find in cell phones and the internet, there is also a lot of good in the technology available to us in 2020! Text messaging is pretty great!
Libby knows I want to write more…and Libby has a lot of thoughts and questions in her head, and a lot of figuring out she is doing in her heart. One day she read my blog and asked how I decide what to write about? I explained my process and then I suggested that maybe she should give me some topics. A bit later she sent me a text with four questions/topics! And wow, these questions! The next day three more came in…and I’ve been wrestling with them ever since!
And so, I decided this was all too much to be just about me and my brain, we must add Libby! She is 22 and figuring life out and I am 60 and figuring life out, what could go wrong?! Thus, we shall begin a new adventure here in this blog space that will be called, “Life with Libby.” It’s the perfect title because Libby is so very full of life. I love that God has connected our hearts and allowed us to move forward connected in life even through much upheaval and change. It will be fun to process with words what we often share in conversation. Everyone should have a Libby in their life. Keep your eyes open and your candy jar full…you never know what can happen!