One of the most tragic and significant moments of my childhood was the day the Spice Girls broke up.
It was 1998, and I was 11 years old. My life revolved around the Spice Girls. My best friends and I used to spend hours dancing to their songs in our training bras, track pants, and platform Skechers. I watched my VHS tape of Spice World over and over, certain that it was the greatest cinematic masterpiece of all time. I had a giant poster of Ginger Spice in her Union Jack dress on my wall. I lived and breathed Girl Power. So when the band announced that they were breaking up, I was devastated.
But there was hope on the horizon. The next year, the Spice Girls were back…minus Ginger Spice, my personal favorite. I bought their new album, but it just wasn’t the same. On the cover of the CD, the girls were wearing boring outfits and natural make-up; no more glittery babydoll dresses. The songs were horribly forgettable. Defeated, I had to go out in search of Girl Power elsewhere.
That was when I learned about moving on. You can’t recapture the magic of a certain time and place again. When it’s time to let go, that’s all that you can do.
I am graduating from Wake Div this year, and for a lot of reasons, that makes me sad. I’ll miss seeing my best friends all the time. I’ll miss the warmth and uniqueness of our spiritual community. I’ll miss the rhythm of my day, and getting to spend it learning new things. I’ll miss a thousand little things – all of the things about this time and place that give me a sense of belonging, a sense of home.
When I’m feeling low about leaving, and feeling fearful about the uncertainty of the future, I think, “Why can’t I just stay here?”
But I know that I can’t stay here. Even if I enrolled in another program at Wake, or if I intentionally failed all my finals so I could stick around another semester, it wouldn’t be the same. That’s not because this place is going to radically change next year. It’s because I’m changing.
Maybe that Spice Girls album wasn’t quite as bad as I remember. It was shallow pop music from a band that had always made shallow pop music. The bigger difference was that I was growing up. It was time for me to go find something new to love. In a few years, I would discover different kinds of “Girl Power” bands, like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney and The Raincoats – I had to leave behind pop to discover the power of rock! There were new things out there for me that I never would have found if I had kept clinging onto the past.
Right now, just like when the Spice Girls broke up, I feel like I’m losing my identity. For three years, I’ve been a student. Who will I be when that’s not who I am anymore? For three years, I’ve been a part of a close-knit community. Who will I be when I don’t have my community to lean on anymore?
It’s scary. But I always knew that my life in this time and place wasn’t for keeps. I have passed through this experience in order to move on and do new things. It’s time for me to go find something new to love.
Moving on doesn’t mean leaving behind. I’ll carry everything I’ve learned with me, inside and outside the classroom. Wake Div has helped shape me into the person that I am today. As I find my way in the new time and place that God has in store for me, I’ll take the love that I have for this place with me. I’ll plant that love into new experiences, which will in turn continue to help me grow and change.
“For everything there is a season,” as it says in Ecclesiastes.
Or as the Spice Girls would say, “I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ah.”