Sunday, September 22, 2013

Breathing Room

We woke up this morning in our new apartment.

We went to sleep there and we woke up there.

It has been a tired, high stress, joy-filled weekend, as moving always is for me.  There is so much excitement in setting up a new place, a place we will live for who know how many years.  What joys and sorrows this apartment will witness with us.  It is so good to have a place to make our own.

We left Boston in such hurry six weeks ago, leaving only a month between the deciding and the doing. It wasn't in our short term plan to move across the country.  But we found ourselves at an impasse, unable to afford living where we were anymore, and with beautiful adventure ahead of us in Tempe, one we'd dreamed of but maybe never really anticipated.  It was a quick and painful going, not easy for us, not easy for those we love, with so little time to realize it was happening.  I don't take lightly the painful parts of the process for us and for others, but here in this new place we can say with confidence it was assuredly right.  

In our hurried packing and rummaging and purging, we unhitched ourselves from a good number of things -- things like couches and clothes and odd knick knacks -- in order to arrive here with just what we needed.  So it feels like a sweet exhaling to unpack our little life here.

My favorite part, I must say, are the windows.  I do not take light for granted after living in a basement apartment with blue carpet on the walls.  Our bedroom there was a windowless enclave, and while there are benefits to being able to sleep till noon without a shred of light or the peep of a bird, I can't say that's much my style.  This is my style.

Room to breathe.  Space to enjoy.  A place for my mornings to be quiet and bright and bird-filled.  That's the good stuff.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Someone Else's Life

Recently a friend wrote about having the odd feeling that she was living someone else's life, about finding herself somewhere she maybe just never dreamed she would be.

I hope everyone gets the chance to feel this way once, like they are living in a movie, like the glamour and sparkle snuck up on them in the midst of their everyday, and suddenly the scene has changed.

I had this same feeling the other day in Wendy's.  It's not that I haven't been to Wendy's before.  But I suddenly found myself a year married, eating chicken in a Wendy's in Phoenix, like a whirlwind had picked me up and deposited me, even though I do seem to remember being present during the process.  The feeling was one of casual delight.  How mischievous that I should find myself in a place and a life I could never have dreamed up.  My plans would have had me somewhere else.  The script I was writing was certainly exciting, and full of drama and action, but in all my readings and travelings, I never did imagine myself here in the desert, or here in this skin.

I like to think of myself as a child, in my room, writing and singing and dreaming of who I might be.  Even then I must have known that things would never turn out as planned, but much better, much more fluid and frustrating and lively and right.  I just give a knowing wink to my little self, full of hopes, longing for the exciting and the ordinary at once, wondering where life might take me.  "You'll never know," I want to say, with a wise smile.

That is one of the singular joys of being young and free.  I don't take for granted that not knowing is a privilege and a beautiful gift that I am continually unwrapping.  I hope in five years I'm able to look around again and find myself surprised, whether it's in a coffee shop in Seattle or a house down the street.  And I'll just tip my hat to God I imagine, give him that same knowing smile, and say, "I could never have guessed."

Monday, September 16, 2013


This week I suddenly got a funny kind of feeling. Maybe it was after I went to the third bar in a week to watch the third football game with the same group of guys.  Maybe it was after I looked at photos of my dearest friends sending off part of their heart to another state, and how I just ached to be part of it, to cry with them and remember the good times and remind each other the best is yet to come.  Somewhere in the midst of a workweek, homesickness crept up on me in the worst way, because I found myself being short with my husband, and feeling sad, and not knowing how or when it all started.

I tried to think of an analogy tonight to describe what moving has meant for me, but nothing seemed to fit.  The older you get, I think, the harder it gets to make new friends.  I suppose it's because you're further removed from kindergarten, when you first learn those kind of things.  I do know, though, now that I've had time to think on it and an entire church service to have a good, puffy-eyed, awkward cry over it, that it has been eight years since I've really had to make friends.  And even eight years ago it was easy, because everyone was the same as me, young and naive and unknown and ready to change.  And it was also easy because I had dear, beautiful people pursuing friendship with me on purpose, people who would become lifelong friends.

But now, I'm here, hoping that there is planted in me somewhere a friend-making gene.

When I think really hard, and try to be really honest, and squint my eyes a little, I can remember that the friendships I have in Boston actually were hard-won.  They were formed like a geologic event, with time and pressure and friction.  It is easy to make those rock formation kind of friends when you are forced by circumstance and city and community to live in close quarters.  But no, it didn't come any easier than I suppose it will here.  And isn't that the point after all?  Don't the most important things in life, all relationships really, slowly etch out over time like the Grand Canyon, making a place for themselves in otherwise independent people, smoothing out rough places and creating depth and width?  These are the things that make it worthwhile to stand still for a while.

So stand still I will, through many awkward conversations that get more natural by the day, through the not knowing and the not being known, and through the hours of small talk.  And little by little, unknown to me, streams will smooth away all the not knowing and I just may find myself looking up one day at layered canyon walls.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


This morning it finally rained! We've had plenty of thunderstorms since we got here a month ago, but this was the first good long soaking rain. Like the kind you get in Boston--an all day rain event.

I always missed western thunderstorms when I was out east. Growing up in Colorado, we had short thunder and rain storms almost every afternoon. Not long, maybe even just ten minutes of actual rain, but usually some good thunder and lightning. It was a rude awakening when I realized (almost immediately upon arriving my freshman year) that in Boston, if it is going to rain, it is going to rain ALL DAY. Rain boots are a necessity, umbrellas are futile in the urban wind tunnels, and there will be no thunder and lightning to thrill you. Just the plodding grey rain. For days. Forever.

 I went to a drive in movie once way out on the plains of eastern Colorado. I remember seeing a thunderstorm out in the distance, miles away on the horizon. I could see the dark line of clouds rolling closer, and the bolts of lightning reaching down like tree limbs. Storms like that can bring a lot of trouble to the plains, but they are certainly a sight to behold.

This morning's storm was a welcome reprieve from the summer heat. It has been heart wrenching already, hearing of the perfect fall days in Boston, thinking of everyone pulling on long sleeve shirts, the students at Harvard hurrying in boots and scarves through brick gates, the leaves starting to slowly change, everyone baking fresh apple pies. Fall here wont begin until late October or maybe November, and I'm sure the cacti will evoke different feelings in me than pumpkins and crunchy leaves. But this morning at least there was something. There was a steady rain, and a warm latte, and football and waffles and friends gathered together. Today, that will be Fall enough for me, and in the true spirit of the fall season, I am thankful.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Above the Waves

It's been a busy few weeks here in Arizona.  For so many weeks I trudged through page after page of bare white employment websites and somehow stumbled upon a job, which I started this week.  It puts me in my place--in a place of wonder--to think of God's kindness to me.  It's nothing special from the outside, but working where I do is like winning my own personal "find a job" lottery.  It is everything I could want (and from the beginning it was never really up to chance).
Jonathan has been waiting all this week to hear from a prospective employer after his final interview last week.  So we have been constantly reminding ourselves that God is faithful--he led us here in the first place, and it wasn't so that we would fail.  He promised we would find new life here, the fertile soil that has already shown itself so clearly in the two years our friends have adventured here before us.
This morning he found out he got the job.
This afternoon was punctuated by our first Arizona rainbow.

These weeks have been lessons in seeing the bigger picture.  When there is so much new happening, how do you remember to see the story all around you?

Sometimes I know it's me bobbing there in the water, treading just hard enough to see the sky.
Above the waves, I can see something that is bigger than just my own beautiful mess.  There is a sky out there that stretches beyond me and leads me to places I never dreamed I could go.  And there is light there, hope for my life and hope for the world.  Above the waves there is quiet.  Stillness.
With so much of my own life swirling around me, I could go a long time without ever looking up and out.  But it's bad posture to sit so long in a scrunched up position, and you tend to get stuck that way.

So it's my goal these days to remember to keep my eyes above the waves--to look up frequently from what I'm doing and live with a purpose bigger than now.