The following post comes from my Monday Morning Email series. I don’t usually post Monday Morning Emails on the blog but today is a special occasion.
- You might not even be aware that I send out a Monday Morning email every Monday to thousands of people like you! It’s quick, it’s feisty, and it’s my best attempt to get back at Monday for making everyone feel so lethargic!
- For forever (or three years… you pick) my Monday Morning Email could only be accessed through a waitlist. Some people waited on that little waitlist for months before entering into the super cool Monday club.
I am proud to announce the waitlist has been ABOLISHED! Come one, come all! Pep talks arriving straight to your inbox on Monday mornings to help you quick butt and show your week who is boss! Sign up here.
I hope you’ll join us!
hb. & the Monday Crew
monday #113: coming home.
Last week’s email seemed to hit a cord with a lot of you. I am always so thankful when I can deliver something to your inbox that makes you feel seen and known. A lot of you came back to me and asked: how? How do I stay? How do I come home– after a time away– and resume life so naturally when everyone else is moving on, getting engaged and making babies?
I’ll be honest: your question is a hard one. I’ve thought about it for the span of a week and I still wonder if I have anything I can possibly offer you that looks or seems like sound advice. In a moment of being stunted on where to start, I googled “how to plant roots down.” I guess I should not have been surprised when a surplus of articles on gardening showed up on my screen. I proceeded to waste a few more minutes clicking through Google images of tree roots and exploring just how and why trees root down.
They root down so they can intake the water and the nutrients they need to live and be healthy. There’s a blaring metaphor staring the both of us in the face right now. If the plant does not root down, the plant cannot grow. It needs all those nutrients and all that h2o to thrive and become what it is meant to be– a big ol’ tree.
Maybe you are in your 20’s. You are traveling and exploring. You are meeting people for coffee. You are enjoying the adrenaline of not being tied down by anything or anyone. It’s a romantic stage of life. I used to get on planes just because I could. I would schedule coffee dates with people I would never see again. It ensured I always had the best stories to tell all my friends when I would eventually come back home. But, as romantic as the life seemed on paper, it began to make me feel estranged and it made me feel lonely.
I’m not telling you to stop. And I am not writing to you about how you eventually need to settle down and quit meeting strangers for coffee. That’s not it. But here’s the question I want to ask you: where do you get your fuel from? Where do you go when you need to recharge? Who fills your tank? Who picks you up from the airport?
The owner of my favorite coffee shop asked me that last question one night while I was working late in his shop. Who picks you up from the airport? I was taken aback by the question and I was surprised to find that I didn’t really have an answer for him. I couldn’t name a single soul who picked me up from the airport. I would simply come home when I was ready, order an Uber, and have the car drop me off at my door.
I have people to pick me up from the airport though. I have them in Atlanta and I had them in Connecticut when I lived there. But my problem was that I didn’t ask them. People cannot pick you up from the airport if you don’t tell them you need them. People won’t feel valued– like their friendship is pertinent to you– if you never have a reason to need them.
Friendships and relationships are built on need. Trust is built because the two of you are vulnerable enough to let some walls down and actually need each other to show up. Before that need comes in, you are just two people who like the company of one another. It is when we humble ourselves down to the realization that interdependency is essential that we uncover a true relationship.
Maybe I have pinned you wrong. Maybe this has nothing to do with roots or asking people to pick you up from the airport. In that case, I’m sorry. For me, the last two years have been a long and hard trek towards falling in love with ordinary life. Towards falling in love with the idea of having coffee with people who don’t thrill me in the way strangers do. Towards falling in love with this idea that people in my community need me for really mundane things and I want to be there for that. I want to be there for the nights when someone needs a babysitter. I want to be there to coach someone through a trip to the Farmer’s Market. Is it as romantic as hopping on a plane and then reading the diary of Sylvia Plath in a Seattle coffee shop? No, probably not. But it’s a different kind of romance. It’s a new kind of romance I now appreciate: a romance of a rhythm in tandem with people I want to need.
Because I like action steps, I will tell you this: the journey to get back in sync with the people who were there for me when the plane landed began with a simple text. “Hey, do you need a babysitter next week?” It began when I squashed the story line in my brain that “all my friends are getting married” or “all my friends are married” or “all my friends have children.” Because all my friends were still willing to pick me up from the airport as long as I said, “Hey, I need you.”
It began with texts of encouragement or calling just to catch up. I called a friend back last week when I saw she left me a voicemail. To be honest, I didn’t want to call back because a text would have been easier and I could do other seemingly more important things. But I called her. She picked up. We talked for an entire hour. And while I could have still been doing other things, I am glad I stayed on the phone. It was a way to say, “Hey, I’m here. If you need me, I am here.” Otherwise, the text would have sent a completely different message to her. A message I am already good at sending: I’m too busy to call back. I’m too busy to be here now. I’m too busy to be a real friend.
The truth is that you might be in different seasons than other people. I found out that people weren’t too busy for me and they weren’t ignoring me. It was simply that I was waiting for them to always text me when I was capable of texting them too. I was capable of reaching out too. I only felt forgotten because I was isolating myself and giving myself another excuse to get back on a plane. I was making my own loneliness and the only way out was to stay long enough for someone to text me back.
Coming out of my own, lonely vagabond pit began with an action step and then a second one.
I want roots for you. I don’t mean roots that will squash you or roots that will hold you down from going after your dreams. I want you to feel the freedom of going places and the freedom of coming home. I think home isn’t a place so much as it is our ability to cultivate raw conversations and serve one another. If you can keep those things intact, you’ll always be home. But I am simply learning that the best way to serve people is to stick around a bit. It’s to ask them hard questions. It’s to show up at their door with banana bread or make them a playlist just because. It’s all this simple stuff that, like I said before, might seem mundane or not romantic. But there’s something there. There is something there waiting for you in the mundane. If you stick around long enough, you’ll find that the ordinary days with the people who know you will give you a better love story than an airport ever could.
tying you closer than most,