I’m an Air Force brat through and through. Eighteen moves have made me familiar with the complex physical and emotional processes of deciding what to take, packing up, and settling into a new place. I answer the question “Where are you from?” with “It’s complicated.” I can pack a month’s worth of clothes and personal items into a carry-on. I know that the first thing you unpack at the new place is the kitchen stuff and the first thing you buy at the grocery store is a bottle of wine. I thought I was okay with not having a strong sense of belonging in any one place, and I had no idea that I was carrying around any concept of home.
Well, I was wrong.
I discovered that I was actually carrying around a strong sense of home that I would apply very quickly to wherever my husband and I settled. I made this discovery this summer, when all my concept of home came completely unraveled.
Let me explain. We live most of the year in California, where my husband is in seminary and I teach high school English. This summer, we’re doing an internship out in Colorado Springs, which is the place where we lived prior to California. We’re back at our old church meeting with old friends, and we’re living in a condo graciously provided by a couple in our church.
But not right now. Right now we’re still keeping an eye on the condo while we’re house sitting for the family of one of my former students.
So there’s the California guest house where our furniture is, the Old Colorado City condo, and the Mountain Shadows house where we’re house-sitting. Confused? So am I. There are many times when I wake up with no sense of where I am or what’s going on.
Apart from the physical chaos of “Oh, my Costco card is still at the condo….no wait, we left it in California…no wait, it’s in my purse,” there’s also the emotional chaos of layers of relationships. We made good, deep friendships while we lived in Colorado, and it’s a little strange trying to pick up where you left off while acknowledging the temporality of the situation. With a small handful of people, it’s easy and comfortable to jump right back into the friendship you had. With others, it’s much more difficult. And the fact is, you aren’t picking up right where you left off. Your life has moved on, and so has theirs. You find yourself grateful where the connections are still solid, and grieving where you feel old ties slipping away.
It gets weird sometimes too when you’re talking to people and you can’t remember what threads of your life they’re connected to. I met a California co-worker of mine in Vegas for an AP conference. I kept starting stories about students and realizing that she wouldn’t know who they were because they were Colorado students. I would mention something from a sermon and then go “oops…wrong church.”
At this point, I feel like I’m in full-on Nomad mode. California doesn’t feel like home, and neither does Colorado. Neither does Hawaii or Oklahoma or North Dakota or New York or Pennsylvania or Florida or any of the other places I’ve lived. There’s really only the here and now: my husband and my toothbrush.
I guess this upside to the whole scenario is that as my concept of home has unraveled, my concept of heaven has coalesced. I feel more strongly than ever that this world is not my home, that I’m living for a kingdom to come, and that I truly don’t belong anywhere except in the place my heavenly father has prepared for me. I have an overwhelming sense that God is breaking down some of these concepts in our hearts (both Tim and I) to prepare us for something He’s going to do with our lives in the future. I have no clue what that something is. But I’m pretty sure it’s not going to involve a two-car garage and a white picket fence. And that it will not be boring.