"Prepare me to leave"
Prayers for Ouachita, my old friendApril 17, 2020 - Addy Goodman
I’ve started this post a few times in my head now, and I just cannot seem to find the words. There is so much I feel as if I should say.
I could talk about the people I came to know and love these past four years, my roommates, teachers, and friends. I could mention the books I read in the English department. I could sing praises for the work I watched happen through Tiger Tunes and the men and women of the Ouachita Student Foundation. I could reminisce on the many stories I had the honor of telling through last year’s yearbook. I could talk about the decades of sisterhood I joined through the women of EEE. The hours of service through Tiger Serve Day. The laughter shared during work-study in the president’s office. The stories I heard from alumni the summer before my senior year. The hours I spent in the chair in the School of Humanities by Marsha Whalen’s desk, my grandma and best friend.
But mostly I want to talk about how much I love and have loved Ouachita, as if she were the oldest of friends.
I am reminded of this past homecoming weekend and all it entailed – preparing for Homecoming Court and that night’s Tiger Tunes double header, which I directed for OSF. On that morning, I put my lipstick on as tears rolled down my cheeks, memories of my freshman year refusing to subside. It was all catching up with me, this whole “year of lasts” thing. Time had moved so quickly.
Throughout my senior year, one prayer had been consistent: “Oh Lord, prepare me to leave.” That weekend, the silent prayer became a spoken one. I said it out loud, speaking it into fruition. The silent stuff wasn’t cutting it!
As I walked off the football field with my dad and a bouquet of flowers, I whispered it to myself. As I danced in the finale of Tunes, I said it to myself over the roar of the crowd and confetti cannons. As I watched the house lights come up, after saying “See you next year!” to the audience, I whispered it again. It has been a painful prayer of mine.
As the year has gone by, I’ve actually felt Jesus prepare me leave. Day by day, I felt and saw my preparation. I thanked Him in my journal on Feb. 12: “You provide circumstances for me to realize I’m ready and will be prepared to leave Ouachita.” However, on March 13, when I left Ouachita as a residential student for the very last time, I was not prepared.
In my life, Ouachita has been more than university. Ouachita has been a lot of things to me: where my dad worked for years; where my band concerts were; where I went to summer music camp with my best friends; where I learned how to ride my bike; where I came every year for Tiger Tunes. Really, Ouachita is the one place that I consider a literal friend. She is deserving of a personal pronoun, because she is more than a collection of buildings, classrooms and sidewalks. She has a personality made up of the shared personalities of the people who call Ouachita home, the shared mission we’ve all dedicated our time there to achieving.
That’s why I found it hard to leave Cone-Bottoms that Friday afternoon. At the time, we thought we were coming back, but sadly, I suspected differently. It reminded me of a break-up, or the night before moving out of a dorm, sitting on a couch surrounded by boxes, and you’re trying to go on with conversation as if everything wasn’t about to change in a single day.
I know that I would have left Ouachita eventually. And when I’m being honest with myself, I know that May 9 would have been just as hard as March 13. I wish that my goodbye to Ouachita would have been how it was supposed to be, slow and celebratory and with my Ouachita family.
While I have prayed desperate prayers for preparation this year, I also have learned to be thankful for the people who have made Ouachita a place I cry over. And now, my prayer needs to change: “Lord, I have left Ouachita. Thank you for the time you allowed me there. Continue to prepare me for my next line in life.”
To Ouachita: you gave me friends who became family and a dorm that became home. And I will never in my life forget what we had here.
“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6)
By Addy Goodman, a senior communications & media/communications studies and political science double major from Arkadelphia, Ark. This post is adapted from Addy's personal blog, "A Little Bit of Addytude." It is used with permission.