Honesty Hour: Moving somewhere new.


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I’ve been in the thick of book rewrites this last month and I can finally see the light! So much of the book has to do with the transition- learning how to ditch this idea of “getting there” and just learn how to be here now. I am flooded with reminders of lessons I learned when moving to a new city and turning it into a home:

  1. Moving some place new is a rough process and it doesn’t happen overnight. Just because you show up doesn’t mean the hard work of “belonging “is done for you.
  2. Curtains are a major pain to put up so just find someone to help you before you lose your mind.
  3. You can stock a fridge with veggies but you still need to learn how to cook them.
  4. Sometimes it will take a really long time before you stop feeling homesick for the part of you that used to live and love someplace else.

These are things I wish someone had told me earlier.

Regardless, I still would have done the same thing. I would have still packed the car and moved somewhere new but it still would have helped to have that sound advice in my back pocket. Whether it’s moving to college, a new city, or even a new apartment complex– we all could benefit from some wise, big sibling advice from someone who has done it before.

So Honesty Hour:

In the comments, tell us a little bit about the move you made (the where, the who, or maybe the why) and one thing you learned through the transition that you’ll always carry with you. 

 

photo cred.

35 thoughts on “Honesty Hour: Moving somewhere new.

  1. About 4 weeks ago I moved to the sugarcane villages in the Dominican Republic to teach. It has always been my dream to do this, but I never thought I would actually be here. I’ve cried almost every day because I find myself missing so many things about my old home–even things as simple as being able to go for a bike ride. But I have learned that I am more resilient than I could have imagined. That God is the same no matter where I am. That we are all living under the same stars and that helps me feel a little less lonely. I have learned that I am a part of something much bigger than myself and that these kids are worth all of my tears.

  2. Almost a year ago to the day I moved from my home state of Missouri to the U.K. for grad school, I’d always lived within an hours drive of my childhood home where my family still lives. I remember packing at the last possible minute and being so scared of what was to come, not knowing a single soul, living in a new country, and feeling overwhelmed with the fear and excitement of the unknown. One thing I’ve taken away from this experience is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and to stay true to yourself but also go approach this new adventure with an open mind. This last year has not been easy but as I prepare to move back to the states, I feel like the people I’ve met and the place that seemed so unfamiliar to me at first have become my home as well.

  3. As always, your writing lands just when I need it. I’m sitting in my apartment in Dublin (as of four weeks now) and have been fighting with myself (albeit less than usual – progress!!) as to where home is for me. My folks are in Canada and that guilt sits so heavy sometimes. I’ve moved so much the last few years and, while I’m craving putting down roots, the idea terrifies me too. I’ve a tattoo, “Be here now”, on my wrist, and I’m still constantly trying to stop panicking over the future. Ironic.

    One thing that’s bringing me joy lately is that I joined a crossfit box a 10 min walk away. If you’d told vegetarian-non-exerciser-me of a year ago that my current reality is paleo and weights and so much less technology, I would’ve laughed. Taking the time to make proper meals and get sweaty has made a world of difference with regards to my anxiety/depression in a new place. Not only that but joining a local active club (regardless of the sport) is a great way to get chatting to loads of good people and establish a routine at the same time. So excited to read your new book because it sounds like something so many of us need as we build our own fires.

  4. A few years ago, my family started traveling full time in an RV. My dad is an evangelist and for the first bit, we were in a different place every week. It was so fun and we loved every bit of it, but the homesickness was taking a punch at us. I thought, if only I could be in Georgia. If only I could be home. I missed the familiarity of friends and family dinner at Grandma’s house on Sunday. I missed the farm we’d lived on. I wanted to be sitting on that piece of earth. And one day, you wrote something that was such a revelation. Geography doesn’t change things. People do. I started learning to open my eyes. Even though we didn’t have years worth of memories, I was surrounded by people. Kindred spirits. I was loved right where I was. Now, I have people on half the states in the country who I call family. We’re not blood related, love related. It’s a powerful thing when we realize people are here. They are what matter and people are what changes us.

  5. Ten years ago I moved to California from my home state of Ohio. I left for the beach and a little bit trying to put distance between myself and the divorce my parents had just gone through. I needed to do my own thing. I learned, after the year and 3 months I lived on the west coast, that:
    -I loved living alone (after my brother met and married a girl and moved out of our shared apt within 6 months of arriving!)
    -I hated being in debt and I didn’t make enough money to live sustainably there
    -I should have done more things and been more ok with doing things alone
    Friendships looked really different that year with 3 out of 4 of my best friends having 10-40 years on me. But I grew up a lot and learned a lot about who I was. And those friendships were so important to my growth.

    I moved home after the place I worked abruptly closed down, and I wanted to pay off debt and spend time near family before moving to Spain, an adventure I’d gotten excited about while in CA. Seven months after arriving back in Ohio, I left for Spain for a year. That year taught me more about where “home” is and who your family can be than I could have imagined. I got connected to a Protestant church (no small feat in Catholic Spain) and made a home and family with a bunch of expats and Spaniards who loved me so well; they laughed and cried with me and made up words with me and encouraged my made up Spanish words; they let me into their families and kept me for Thanksgiving and Christmas and introduced me to so many things I’d never experienced before. Those people, a few specifically, still influence my life and my goals today, a little over 7 years later. That year I learned that:
    -you can go without wifi in your home for 4 months if you have to
    -siesta should be instituted worldwide; I don’t care about the economic ramifications
    -a different culture isn’t going to be changed by your desires and preferences so figure out when you can let go of your expectations, and then do it sooner
    -family is accumulated through finding unconditional friendship
    -do things you don’t think you can do; enjoy it and be way proud of it
    -sit by fountains and eat gelato as much as you want; unless you live there permanently or have fountains and gelato in the next place you go, you don’t want to miss this season
    -talk to strangers and don’t be embarrassed by making linguistic mistakes; those mistakes make for great, albeit slightly embarrassing stories
    -I am more capable, more resilient, more able to adapt and thrive than I knew
    -my relationship with Jesus that year was full and beautiful; I relied so much on him in my weakness, my inability to depend on myself for everything like I could in more familiar places. I miss that season often and am deeply thankful for it

    I felt held and heard and loved that year by Jesus, by people and even by myself, as I learned more about who I was and how I learned to cope and process in a wildly different environment. Moving to a foreign country 10/10 would do again –even though it was hard and messy and I was strapped for money the whole year and I wanted to shout a lot of things in Spanish at my Spanish roommate so many times because the American in me and the Spaniard in her did NOT see eye to eye. I regret nothing about that year except holding on to my American expectations a little too long and not trying to meet that roommate where she was at a little sooner.

    I moved almost every year for 9 years-sometimes in the same city, other times not-and I’ll tell you what, I learned a lot about vulnerability, opening up and letting people in quickly because I knew I didn’t have an endless amount of time with them. I learned a lot about transitions and how beautiful, messy, rewarding, exhausting, and totally worth it they’ve been to me.

    I planned all those moves except 1, the second to last one. And that one broke my heart, not from a relationship perspective but from a life dream that didn’t turn out the way I’d planned. And then I lost a boyfriend soon after (so yeah, kind of in a relationship respect indirectly). The whole experience rendered me almost helpless and as close to depression as I’ve ever been. It also led to the last big move I made, which the Lord has joyfully and fruitfully blessed, and I could not imagine a more perfect place for me right now. I’ve looked back and been able to see that all of those moves, all of those places and experiences the last 9 years have been about getting me to where I am now. And I imagine in 9 more years I’ll look back on this season and say, “yep, knew that season was rich for a reason.”

    I can’t imagine my future, and I don’t think I want to. God has surely shown he’ll change any of my plans for my good and/or abundantly provide more than I could have imagined to any season. But I know that being comfortable with transition-despite heartache and grieving the season being left-is one of the richest lessons I’ve been taught from theee moves. And the relationships I made in transition periods of life have been some of the richest I’ve ever built.

    So, take that move and enjoy the everything out of it. Even the discomfort, and the missing people, and the new things you’re annoyed by. Take it, enjoy it, and let people love you and love on others. Especially someone else going through a transition. Guaranteed they need a friend.

    Recognition also for the people who stay in one place for a long time and own the heck out of being stable and consistent with a city, a community, a home. Bless you. People like me need people like you too, people to welcome us and keep us for a season. Surround yourself with some of us but be encouraged that we know it’s hard to be left on the regular. Keep us anyway and also keep consistently present “lifers” with you. They’re good for your emotional health too.

    -much love and grace to you, whatever season of life you find yourself in-

  6. I moved from a fairly small city, Kelowna, BC, to a huge one, Vancouver BC, to babysit my grandsons. At first, when we drove into the downtown area, I felt shock and dismay. Skyscrapers, cars and people everywhere I looked.

    We rented an apartment across the street from the boy’s school so we were set. At first, not knowing the ways of a big city, I drove to the shpping center and movie houses. After paying around $15 each time just to park my car, I decided to start busing everywhere. It was wonderful not to try to drive in overly congested streets.

    I noticed bikes were for rent in our area, so I rented a few times and then bought a bike. We lived a few blocks from Stanley Park, which is wooded and goes on for acres. There were bike trails and rollerblade trails. I also started walking through the park, exploring each trail.

    I am quite afraid of people, and I found out the homeless and drunk people like to talk with strangers. There were many people asking for money. I became accustomed to this and smiled, talked and shared my money. No one ever harmed me, even if I was out of money.

    I fell in love with Vancouver, I felt at home there after about a year. We stayed for 5 years and then moved back to Kelowna so I could babysit my 3 granddaughters! I actually miss Vancouver.

  7. I recently returned to the States, from a 6 month mission trip in Dominican Republic. Initially I was offered a job and after coming home for two months to fundraise, I was informed that the organization could no longer pay me.My plans changed and God positioned me back here. Through my service there, and in my return here, a few things I will always carry with me is to never underestimate the shifts that take place – learn to see the lens through the view that I am being prepared for a greater shift in the future, do not hold grip the plans that you have for yourself, and always be okay with treading unknown territory.

  8. About six months ago I moved from Dallas back to my college town of Columbia, Missouri. I had been back “home” in Dallas for three and a half years, but around year three it just felt like a city that didn’t fit me anymore, even though my family and many friends were close by. Then, some personal craziness went down, and I applied for a job, got it, and accepted it in a whirlwind of just a few weeks. All the sudden my life was completely different than it had just been, and with it came a slew of emotions, which brings me to my first piece of advice:

    1. Let yourself feel all the things.

    Moving is a rollercoaster of emotions. One day you can’t believe it took you so long to take the plunge, because this town and new job ARE THE BEST EVER, and sometimes mere HOURS later, you’re wondering if you moved only as a dramatic reaction to your personal craziness. Hannah, your words about staying and planting roots and doing the work in your own life as opposed to running away to a new city rang in my ears. Is that what I did? Now that my emotions have had time to balance out, I do feel this move was right for me. Give yourself grace and time to get used to your new normal.

    2. Don’t forget you can always come home.

    I think us 20-somethings still have a tendency to be overly dramatic about things like this. Before I moved I agonized over whether or not taking this job and uprooting my life was the “right” decision. Should I “grow where I’m planted”? Is this the perfect next step career wise? Is moving 9 hours away from my parents indefinitely really a great decision? But then I got here and realized how quickly it all happened. If I needed to, I could just as quickly find my way back. It’s just that simple. Even if I spent a painful year here (I’m not – I love it!), and then marched right back home, this season would be teaching me so much about myself and life in general. There are no wrong decisions, just decisions and then what you make of them.

    3. Hire movers, if you can.

  9. I learned that ….

    – moving took a lot of energy and optimism!
    – each new place gave me a fresh start to be whom ever I wanted to be!
    – no one had ever seen my wardrobe.
    – I am responsible for my own happiness, and that would need to involve new friends.
    – moving gave me the opportunity to learn, grow, and explore.
    – libraries were a wonderful place to join the community.
    – my cooking improved!

  10. I’m 26 and this summer I made my 28th move. This one was different though. I got married in December and this June we bought our first home. It has taken and will continue to take me a long time to allow myself to really live here. I don’t know how to settle down in a place. Or decorate. Or fully unpack. But we plan to start our family here and stay until we outgrow it. So I’ll have to settle in and get comfortable. I’ll have to face that voice that says “as soon as you get comfortable, you’ll just be uprooted again so why bother.” I’m no longer going to let fear keep me from committing, investing, and cozying up to the space I occupy. I’m all in. Now, curtains.

  11. I’ve learned that “wherever you go, there you are.” Sure you may resonate a bit more in one place than in another, but moving to a new city is not a magic wand. You will carry you wherever you go. So whatever issues are impacting you here will impact you there. It is important to keep doing the work on yourself to heal, to grow and to accept yourself fully wherever it is you land. Take it from me who just turned 50 and on her 39th birthday moved to Belize for a year to create/facilitate a volunteer literacy program and then 2 years later moved to NYC at the height of the economic crisis. Although the move did not land her in bright lights on broadway it did introduce her to couch surfing, Free Hugs, Burning Man and realizing one really could live as a Freelance Storyteller and Speaker. Fast forward to age 47 when she moved solo to Washington DC and then 2 months later landed a Storytelling Consultancy at the World Bank. So, this happened, but she is still the Hummingbird Butterfly who flits social circle to social circle even as she longs for roots rather than winds. Hugs from my heart to yours, Kristin.

    1. “You will carry you wherever you go. So whatever issues are impacting you here will impact you there.” So true . The outer space can be changes but the inner one remains the same. You take you happy self or your unhappy self wherever you go. Loved you comment, kristinpedemonti.

  12. I have changed my houses enough to know, friends can be made again. And just the prospect of starting over, is amazing. So I’m not so sad with moving every 3 years and changing schools. Also, I think the first day is the best day to make griends. It’s just a strategy I have developed.

  13. I’m Canadian, but back in 2010, I fell in love with a man from Las Vegas.
    By the end of January 2011, I had moved to Nevada.

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that:
    — there are always reasons to stay and reasons to go
    — (in my case) I was “losing” family, but gained another big Italian family 🙂
    — the homesickness fades. I promise.
    — sometimes it takes reminding yourself of why you moved
    — marry someone who doesn’t like curtains 😉

  14. Eleven months ago I moved from Atlanta to Glasgow, Scotland. I moved to do church work in urban deprived areas of Glasgow. I was so excited to move. It was SO clear that God had called me to serve Him in Scotland and I knew I would at least be here for two years. The first two weeks were great! Then slowly the homesickness set in. I realized everyones lives in Atlanta were moving on. I realized I had ZERO friends. I was angry and just upset. I was still confident God called me here, but I did not like it. It wasn’t until spring came that I really was able to evaluate what was going on in my heart and mind in that time.

    I realised that I left every bit of my identity in America. My identity as a churchgoer, as a friend, as a daughter, as a musician. Whatever it was that I clung to that made me who I am. When I got to Glasgow all of those things were gone & the only thing that was the same from America was my God. It wasn’t easy in realising how little of my identity rested in the Father, but it sure was worth it.

    I won’t say things suddenly were perfect when I placed my identity in Christ alone, but it became more bearable for me. I still have no friends. My friends and family are still moving on. Some days I still don’t like this city. But I don’t have to love this city to love it’s people well.

    I’m still learning. I moved almost a year ago and will have to adjust back to America in 11 short months and I wonder if I will ever figure out how to live somewhere new.

    1. I suppose this wasn’t much advice, but more confession that it’s been 11 months and I still haven’t figured it out. I have learned it’s okay to be uncomfortable and not always content. It’s worth it because you are growing and changing in ways you never would have imagined.

  15. I love this, Hannah. I wish I would have known those things too. Still would have made the move either way, but having some of those conversations would have been helpful and healing. Something I struggled with when I moved was feeling like in gaining a new home and new life, the old one was dying. I didn’t know how to live in the awkward tension of having two homes, two different lives, two seasons, but all umbrella’d under the same me. Initially, I felt I had to leave one behind emotionally in order to fully embrace the next. But what I’ve learned is that God expands the interior space of our heart to carry both. You still grieve the loss of tangibility with the old place as you set off for the new one, but they can both be alive and well, both special, both yours. It’s kind of like having kids (from what my Mom has told me). Your time with just one is ending, and there is a weird sadness that comes with that, and a fear that you won’t be capable of loving the second as much as you do the first. Then, faithfully, God doubles your love and makes room in your heart and life for the second miracle. I feel him doing this with me as I love both what’s behind me and what’s in front of me.

  16. 3 months ago I moved to Ontario for the summer to work at a camp. I’m from Manitoba. I had never been to Ontario before and I had heardso many wonderful things about it. I was really excited. To my disappointment when I got there I experienced culture shock which became a barrier for me to connect with the people there. I’m sure they were good people but 3 months was not enough for me to feel like I belonged. A lot of the people already knew each other and so it was difficult for me to break into those cliques. Nonetheless I took my summer experience as an opportunity for me to get to know my self and reflect on my life. I loved it. It was boring and frustrating at times but I knew it was temporary so it helped me go through it🤗

  17. I’ve moved a lot in my life, transition almost was a norm. It felt natural, it’s what I knew how to do. But I am finding that this transition from college ( I was a non trad music student) into adult life and community difficult. In college, especially music, your community is halfway built for you. Granted what you put into your community provides the the quality. Now I live in the same town, but my situation and my community has changed. I am unsure where to begin. My thought is church, but when i was so busy with work and school, church didn’t make it into the mix. it feels strange and I am afraid they won’t accept me. I needed that time in my life. So for me the hardest transition was staying in the same small town.

  18. I live in Germany and 2 years ago I moved my family from the southwest to the far east of the country. Shortly after arriving I hated it. I knew how to move on my own. But with two kids and a sick husband I found it so difficult to meet new people. I denied myself to take care of me. I just focused on my family. Recently me not loving and caring for myself as well as our failed marriage brought me close to burnout. So things I learned through all of this are:
    -roots are hard to establish. They don’t grow in comfort. Get uncomfortable to grow even if you hate every bit of it.
    -put yourself first. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary to take care of others.
    -the end may just be the beginning.
    -you are always with yourself, embrace it.
    -this is where you need to be, however hard.
    -even a failed marriage, may be the beginning of you embracing yourself.
    -be your own mother, be your own child. Care for you like a mother, accept it as a loving child.

    1. Loved your points Sandra. This is one of the biggest lessons I learnt in recent times. Self love is an essential component of a mother’s life. It is often mistaken as selfishness. But without self love, you just move towards a burnout situation.
      The moment I discovered self love, it became easier for me to accept other’s who had self love. I mistook other’s self love also as selfishness earlier.
      Am sorry about deviating from the main topic. But I had to write about self love. 🙂

  19. My moving advice:
    – When I moved, I had to fit everything into 2.5 suitcases. I learned to bring my favourite blanket and my favourite mug. Those things felt like home.
    – I sent my old friends my new address right away. They sent me mail and it felt more like home.
    – I obviously brought all my favourite pictures of my favourite people too. I rearranged the room I was given also. Between my pictures and my new layout, I felt like my room was my space.
    – I wasn’t shy about wearing my new friend’s clothes. This might seem weird but I grew up with 3 sisters and sharing clothes is so normal for me. My new friends were also excited (at least they pretended to be) so that was a bonus.
    – if you’re starting a new job, get to know your coworkers. Offer to help them in their real lives if you can.
    – relationships are hard work. Moving away from them, it takes work to keep in contact. Also, moving into new ones, you feel like you can’t let the new people in your life down. Don’t forget you’re not holding them up yet. This is all a process, usually it’s more messy than we’d like to post on our Insta stories, but it’s worth it 1000x over when you realize you’ve made some golden friendships.
    – just because you’re living on your own doesn’t mean you can leave the dirty dishes in the sink forever.
    – just because you’re living on your own doesn’t mean doing laundry is optional. ACTUALLY FOLD YOUR CLOTHES. Then ACTUALLY PUT THEM AWAY.
    – Candles are always great.
    – so is tea.
    – go out to dinner (or just desert and tea) alone once or twice if you’ve never done it before. No one here knows you, and it gives you time by yourself to really think.
    – write lots or read lots if that’s what you’re into but too much tv is not recommended. Go for a walk instead.

  20. Your heart will be able to grow and expand to include new people. The old ones that you need will still be there but it takes a little more effort than it did before. Sometimes you don’t get a goodbye with someone they just slowly fade out of your life and it’s ok for that to hurt. But the new people will come and you will feel like you belong again. Patience, my friends, and sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to get there.

  21. Bottom Line: Moving helps us really know that we truly and most closely only live with ourselves, in this life. There are many “houses by the side of the road” who love us, help us, encourage us, cheer us … and we them. But in the end, we journey with ourselves, and the real enduring relationship is with our God, whatever that relationship may be for each of us. Changes and moving forces us to be aware of this, acknowledge this, accept this, and nudges us to finally flourish with this. Sometimes (most times) this is a long process. But one which allows us to at last look back at life in older age wiser and with a sense of richness, like aged wine.

  22. I just moved to the college of my dreams. The college I’ve been dying to attend for 5 years. But move in left me feeling alone and finding that this college wasn’t going to be what made me happy. I had to dig in. My plans have changed since I decided to come here. I brought a long-distance relationship with me and I’m dealing with the debate of leaving to marry the man I love, or putting marriage off for a couple more years and staying where I am. I’m adjusting to campus life and being responsible for my own schedule and plans, etc, and there is a lot more on my plate than I expected. but even with the things I’m stressed about, I’m learning so much about myself: I need a lot of sunshine; I don’t like keurig coffee; a wireless mouse is something to be very thankful for; I am really bad at carrying around too many books. and I am loving the learning process.

    I don’t really have anything deep to say or advice to give. But today I’m really happy where I am. That might change tomorrow, but I want it out there that today I am really really happy.

  23. I’m 24 years old and I’m actually getting ready to pack up my jeep and move across the country to a state that I barely know 1 person in. So although I haven’t moved yet i’m learning A LOT already in the process of this move. I’ve never lived on my own yet and i’ve lived in the same state, relatively the same city my entire life. I quit my job and started my own online health and fitness business and fell in love with a new place. I’m definitely anxious for the move but I think the excitement of a new start and a new life is a positive and driving force for me right now. Realizing material wise how little I actually need to bring with me is humbling. Realizing that there is no right time or perfect time when i’ll have “enough” money is also humbling. Realizing that it’s actually not as scary or as hard as I imagined it would be to make this possible if you’re okay getting a little uncomfortable in the beginning. Also realizing that complete strangers are kinder and more welcoming then you’d imagine. Reaching out to complete strangers across the country just to chat with about living there are turning into friendships. Those things make my heart happy and give me confidence that I am making the right choice.

  24. I once sold everything I could, packed my car, and moved from Indiana to Texas. Granted, I had a lead on a job and friends to stay with. Man, it’s expensive to move! I realized that getting a job wouldn’t just get me out of the spare room of my friend’s house, I needed to pay my current bills, save, and then get a place to live that wasn’t complete crap 🙂 Because I really appreciated the place to stay, but I also really missed having my own space. Another thing I learned was that it is much more difficult to make friends as an adult. You can’t just say, hey, I like beer, wanna be best friends and watch each others backs and hang out? I made some friends but learned to appreciate my old friends even more. People who know my story already, who are there for me no matter what, people with a proven track record. It’s so amazing to have people that I can call when I’m down or even just bored! Friends, that’s what gets you through life.
    http://grilledcheeseloveandfriendship.wordpress.com

  25. Thank you for this wisdom! I just began college and I have been here for a month. It’s the first time I’ve ever moved. I’m 4 hours away from home, my family, my friends, my boyfriend, and “normal.” I love it here and feel like I’m adjusting well, but that hasn’t made missing home any less difficult. I loved how you put it, I’m still a little homesick for the part of me that loves home.
    I’ve learned that other people are looking for friends too, you’re not alone. When you’re willing to be vulnerable you will find people and build relationships based on “me too.” Put yourself out there, be true to yourself, and remember that we’re all in the same beautiful story called life together.

  26. I’m making my first move as an adult and this post came at the perfect time. I have been searching for pearls of wisdom to have a better expectation around this life change. These comments have helped me to feel a little less anxious and much more excited, so for that thank you!

  27. *In response to you mentioning packing the car and moving and belonging, here is an author’s note by Donald Miller on leaving and moving to a new city:*

    This is my favorite piece of writing. I ripped the pages out of the book and carried it around with me in my wallet for two years straight.

    Warning: It might make your heart swell. Enjoy.

    . . .

    *IT IS FALL HERE NOW, MY FAVORITE OF THE FOUR seasons. We get all four here, and they come at us under the doors, in through the windows. One morning you wake and need blankets; you take the fan out of the window to see clouds that mist out by midmorning, only to reveal a naked blue coolness like God yawning.September is perfect Oregon. The blocks line up like postcards and the rosebuds bloom into themselves like children at bedtime. And in Portland we are proud of our roses; year after year, we are proud of them. When they are done, we sit in the parks and read stories into the air, whispering the gardens to sleep.I come here, to Palio Coffee, for the big windows. If I sit outside, the sun gets on my computer screen, so I come inside, to this same table, and sit alongside the giant panes of glass. And it is like a movie out there, like a big screen of green, and today there is a man in shepherd’s clothes, a hippie, all dirty, with a downed bike in the circle lawn across the street. He is eating bread from the bakery and drinking from a metal camp cup. He is tapping the cup against his leg, sitting like a monk, all striped in fabric. I wonder if he is happy, his blanket strapped to the rack on his bike, his no home, his no job. I wonder if he has left it all because he hated it or because it hated him. It is true some do not do well with conventional life. They think outside things and can’t make sense of following a line. They see no walls, only doors from open space to open space, and from open space, supposedly, to the mind of God, or at least this is what we hope for them, and what they hope for themselves.I remember the sweet sensation of leaving, years ago, some ten now, leaving Texas for who knows where. I could not have known about this beautiful place, the Oregon I have come to love, this city of great people, this smell of coffee and these evergreens reaching up into a mist of sky, these sunsets spilling over the west hills to slide a red glow down the streets of my town.And I could not have known then that if I had been born here, I would have left here, gone someplace south to deal with horses, to get on some open land where you can see tomorrow’s storm brewing over a high desert. I could not have known then that everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God’s way. All my life I have been changing. I changed from a baby to a child, from soft toys to play daggers. I changed into a teenager to drive a car, into a worker to spend some money. I will change into a husband to love a woman, into a father to love a child, change houses so we are near water, and again so we are near mountains, and again so we are near friends, keep changing with my wife, getting our love so it dies and gets born again and again, like a garden, fed by four seasons, a cycle of change. Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning. And the closest thing I can liken life to is a book, the way it stretches out on paper, page after page, as if to trick the mind into thinking it isn’t all happening at once.Time has pressed you and me into a book, too, this tiny chapter we share together, this vapor of a scene, pulling our seconds into minutes and minutes into hours. Everything we were is no more, and what we will become, will become what was. This is from where story stems, the stuff of its construction lying at our feet like cut strips of philosophy. I sometimes look into the endless heavens, the cosmos of which we can’t find the edge, and ask God what it means. Did You really do all of this to dazzle us? Do You really keep it shifting, rolling round the pinions to stave off boredom? God forbid Your glory would be our distraction. And God forbid we would ignore Your glory.HERE IS SOMETHING I FOUND TO BE TRUE: YOU DON’T start processing death until you turn thirty. I live in visions, for instance, and they are cast out some fifty years, and just now, just last year I realized my visions were cast too far, they were out beyond my life span. It frightened me to think of it, that I passed up an early marriage or children to write these silly books, that I bought the lie that the academic life had to be separate from relational experience, as though God only wanted us to learn cognitive ideas, as if the heart of a man were only created to resonate with movies. No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath:*

    *I’ll tell you how the sun rose*

    *A ribbon at a time…*

    *It’s a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn’t matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in cold and still and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were … and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be.So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative, that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself slowly toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification.And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.I want to repeat one word for you:Leave.Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.*

    ——

    ♡ // Rachel Marie Kang

    On Thu, Sep 7, 2017 at 5:44 PM, HANNAH BRENCHER wrote:

    > hb. posted: ” I’ve been in the thick of book rewrites this last month and > I can finally see the light! So much of the book has to do with the > transition- learning how to ditch this idea of “getting there” and just > learn how to be here now. I am flooded with reminders” >

  28. I’m poring through these comments because I just moved from Austin, TX, my home for 16 years to NC and I’m deeply homesick. It’s only been a month and 3 days. Not that I’m counting.

  29. I’m in the military so picking up and moving every few years is not a foreign endeavor to me any longer. However, even though I can jump into motion and hit the checklist of what it takes to move (packing, house hunting, finding a church and yoga studio, having the bills changed to new address…) it always takes me emotionally a little longer to get into sync. I’m usually excited for the move for the first several weeks and then reality hits that I left behind my close connections and now I’m having to rebuild those bonds all over again with people I haven’t even met yet. I wouldn’t trade my way of life (and serving my country) for anything but even with multiple moves the ache is still there until the new city feels more like home.

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