Why is change so hard? Even change that is painless, really, is still so dreadful to me. Actions and counteractions. Choices and consequences. Saying yes to something is inadvertently saying no to something else. Why do things have to change? There hasn't a day gone by this year that I haven't wished again, and again, to go back to the beginning of this year and change my life. It will never happen. But the agony will never fade, either. In a way, finally finding acceptance and my feet again just makes the loss even worse. Moving into a future I'd never expected to have to face is so intimidating. What happens when I make each decision? What if I made the other? Nothing is safe or familiar. Everything wants to change and I struggle to face each new decision with an open mind and heart but they just keep coming. Who wants change? In the end I didn't want change at all, and now that is all my life resolves around. Even trying to stand still and do nothing, just exist, is a change in itself to who I once was and what I had and loved. It is so frustrating. Even more so, when the change has good factors. Good people involved. I wonder if I will ever be able to stop comparing the options to the past. The new people in my life don't really deserve it. They see me through such shallow lenses, seeing only the surface of the person I am, a brand new HBBC graduate. While I gaze back at them, evaluating through three years of betrayal, confusion, and loss. And the hard part is that I let myself be in that position. Eventually the prison of doing nothing is unbearable and I let myself explore the options of that scary thing called moving forward, toward whatever maybe be out there whether it is better or actually not... and recently the options have been doors to wonderful experiences. I've had a snowcone twice, now. I've explored parts of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City I'd never had access to before. Met extraordinary new people. Gone outside. Ventured into the open of the hazy humid summer afternoon and even played softball with a group of mixed strangers and semi-aquaintances. Been introduced to my church in a new light. But even on the best days, there is very little of the old Noelle left. I hardly remember what it feels like to just laugh. Laugh from joy, not from environment. To be silly. To be a little crazy. To be relaxed, and casual, and contented and peaceful. Even on the best days in my new world, the only familiar companion is the pain and grief of the loss. And in the oddest moments it pierces my heart. Usually in the car driving home at night. No matter how good the day, the night always comes. The night, with the memories, with the questions, with the loneliness of soul. The night with no escape. And the strangeness of my new life rises up to intimidate me into tears. Hot tears, salty tears, tears that haven't stopped falling even after six months. Six months and nine days. Because all these options, all these people, all these places... they are so foreign. Noelle might be there, be in the pictures, be on the rollcall, but it's not the same. They aren't Noelle's places, Noelle's people, Noelle's choices. They have nothing to do with me, except for the fate of circumstances forcing us together. Exiled from the familiarity in the past, an alien in the presence of the future. At times like tonight I feel so transparent, so shallow, so inconclusive. Just a figment, just a wraith, just a shadow hovering in the existence of life, but not home. Everything has changed, but tonight, I just want to forget that and go back to the times when I was at home in living my life. I want to go back to a time that will never be mine again. Why does change hurt so deeply? Why does change happen at all? The great, agonizing, unfathomable question, whose answer is hidden in the mystery of a God who does not explain His ways to us: Why?