There is a place in Columbia that is so dear to my heart, my rooftop. It’s not even mine, it’s Amanda Lewicki’s. And it’s not even hers but will forever be because she is the one who introduced me.
I first went to the rooftop one night after HotL girls bible study. It was the sweetest group of girls, and the last night before a lot of things would change. I had been going to Hill for about a year, and it was the only place that I have ever felt completely at home (besides house church… but that was my home). I remember my first sunday walking into Hill of the Lord, being completely overwhelmed with the beauty of the horseshoe on that perfect fall day, drowning in the worship of all of these sweet voices echoing in the chapel, a sermon preached straight out of scripture, and meeting Brit and Emily and Jayson and falling immediately in love. I think I might have cried because I was so relieved and happy and overwhelmed. Now I think this might be the most dysfunctional group of people I know and I love it that way. Everything about them is so raw and real and it’s refreshing to me. I started going to HotL the same time I started dating Adam, the same time I started swing dancing. And I look back on it as one of the best times of my life. Anyway, this night was the night that we realized that a lot was getting ready to change. Some of us would be moving across the state, or country, or even across the ocean. Some of us would be getting married or finishing school or having a baby. It felt like this huge thing was getting ready to happen and there is nothing anybody could do to stop it. And so each moment that we had left as a group was precious. So some of us went to the rooftop that night, with our blankets and woodchuck, and looked out over the city lights trying to make it somehow last longer. I only had a couple of summer months left before my life would change too, and I decided that this rooftop would be mine for however long I could make it last.
I went to the rooftop a lot after that. I brought Adam and thermoses of coffee, and I thought about how much I just wanted to move my bed up to that rooftop, with a little fridge and a little shelter. I would have moved into the big apartment on the corner with the windows looking out over the city if I had enough money to pay for it. I didn’t of course, and somebody else already lived there. But I daydreamed about it a lot. And still do sometimes. My favorite time was the August night before Adam left for Austin. He got the news at the end of April that he would be moving there to finish his PhD with Texas A&M, and he had no other options. Thats when I decided that I would move to PA to be closer to my family. My sister had just had River and had moved to Camden, a lot of my sweet friends from Hill of the Lord were moving away, Adam was moving across the country and we decided to do things long distance, and I missed my family a lot. So it seemed like the perfect time for me to move too. He planned an amazing goodbye evening. We went to dinner at Al’s Upstairs with the perfect view of the river and the city at sundown. Then we went and got dessert at Nonnah’s, my favorite expensive dessert art gallery. And then he took me to the rooftop. It was breathtaking, with a pathway of candles leading to a picnic blanket and his guitar, thanks to the help of Megan and Andrew and Amanda. He sang me a song that he had written and gave me a promise ring. And it was beautiful.
The memories of that rooftop occupied my dreams a lot of my first lonely days in Newtown. I wanted so badly to find a rooftop in my new city that I could go to, to be alone with my bible and journal, spending time with Jesus, spending time daydreaming, spending time wrapped in blankets with my thermos of coffee watching the snowfall over my new charming town. I have a lot of thoughts about Newtown that I miss too, that maybe I will write about someday. But I never found a rooftop there. And now I am in Temple, newly married, and there is no rooftop here either. Of course, there isn’t really a city here that lights up brilliantly, and there isn’t a whole lot of charm. Mostly, some giant bushes, a few cactus, and a lot of sun. But the wind blows and there are city lights spread out over miles of wildflower fields, and so if I could find myself a roof with a view I could imagine myself treasuring it here too.
The last time I visited my rooftop in Columbia was the week I got married. My brother’s girlfriend, Kayla, and I were staying with the Strom’s, and Bucky and Adam were there helping with wedding things. I wanted to bring them to my rooftop because I love them so much and I love the rooftop so much. It was late and the 4 of us had just finished making place cards and programs for the wedding. We were all sitting in the kitchen with Donna keeping us company, and decided to end the night on the rooftop. Donna packed us a cooler full of drinks and snacks, and we bundled up for the event. I think we only ended up staying for 20 or 30 minutes. The wind was a little bit colder up there than on the ground and we didn’t bring enough jackets. But sharing the view of the city with Bucky and Kayla was special, knowing that it would be one of the last times the 4 of us would hang out together for a while. That whole week was the best week of my life.
Looking back over all of those times, I noticed that my rooftop so far is a place of change and goodbyes and endings. The last great memory I have with my sweet girls, the last date with Adam before we got married, the last night I lived in Columbia, the last week I had to spend with Bucky and Kayla. And all of those things have been hard changes, but not necessarily bad changes. I have grown a lot from all of those things. God has taught me so much trust and reliance upon Him in all of those circumstances. But like I said before, I dream about that rooftop a lot. I don’t know if I will see it again, to be honest. I hope that Adam and I will move back to Columbia someday. I hope that is where God leads us. If He doesn’t, I am ok with that as long as I am sure that it is His plan and not my plan. I guess the same thing goes for us moving back there. I just want to know that is God’s plan for us. And if we do go back, I hope that maybe that rooftop will become a place of welcome and good times and future instead of endings and changes. And I hope that the people that have shared the rooftop with me will still be there. I think it is a selfish thought to want all of those people that are in my rooftop memories to be there waiting for me when I get back. All of those girls to move back to Columbia too. For it to be God’s plan for Bucky and Kayla to move to Columbia too. For it to be God’s plan that we all hang out on the rooftop once a week or once a month. But in case it’s not God’s plan, I am doing well with my daydreams. And in case it isn’t His plan, I hope that He will bring a different kind of rooftop into my life in whatever way He desires. But I love my rooftop. And I love those memories. And it will forever be a place of beauty in my mind and a place of comfort in my heart.