If you’ve read this blog somewhat-regularly or if you know me in real life, you know that I’ve moved around a lot. I grew up in the Los Angeles area and moved to north Alabama my senior year of high school. I went to college in Tuscaloosa (central Alabama), grad school in St. Louis, have spent the last year in west-central Illinois while my husband does his vicarage (pastor internship), and just moved back to St. Louis a couple days ago. There’s even more “little moves” in between the main ones, too. I liked in an apartment until I was seven, then a house until I was 13, then another house until I was 17. We lived in my aunt’s house for a month when we first came to Alabama, then a house, and then my parents moved into a new house when I was 20. I lived in three different places in college (a dorm and two different apartment complexes), and am on living arrangement number three during Jonathan’s time in seminary (two years in on-campus married housing, one year in the vicarage condo, and starting one year in an off-campus apartment). I’ve moved a lot, especially in the last 10-ish years.
All of this moving has allowed me to notice something, though: nobody really seems to care about home anymore. Growing up in Southern California, in “the media capital of the world,” where there was basically an infinite number of things to do, great weather, at a school that had a lot of opportunities for students to express themselves and pursue whatever interests they had, people still complained, nearly constantly. Everybody wanted out. It wasn’t any different in Alabama, though. We had a close-knit school community, a lot of freedom to roam around, everything we wanted to do was cheap and accessible—but still, everyone could find something to complain about. Now, in St. Louis, it’s more of the same. From Burbank to Hartselle to Tuscaloosa to St. Louis, there was no real “pride of place” among a lot of the people I knew, really regardless of age.
On the one hand, I get it. For a long time, I cultivated this weird, almost Schadenfreude-esque pride in not feeling at home in places, not participating in pep rallies, not having school spirit or team pride. Sometimes it was because I was going through a rough spot socially—maybe I was stressed or lonely or felt left out. But a lot of the times, it was just a choice: a choice to be jaded and detached, to “know better”, to be different and cool and sad, to create distance through an impenetrable detachment, so that I would be less likely to be upset when something bad inevitably happened.
That attitude is a lot less appealing to me at 25 as it was at 15. I can’t keep the act up anymore—it takes too much out of me and it’s just, frankly, annoying. At the end of the day, I am a person, not a computer program or an unembodied spirit. I am bound to the specific place and time and circumstances into which God has chosen to place me. I may not always be over-the-moon about those settings—some of them are hard, unpleasant, challenging, frustrating, or just simply not what I wanted. But I’m sick and tired of making myself miserable in an attempt to avoid the inherent pain of connectedness and vulnerability. It’s not cool, it’s not better, and it’s just not worth it.
We’re in the middle of unpacking our apartment. It’s still a bit of a wreck. But Jonathan and I have both noticed that it’s starting to feel like home. It’s starting to really feel like we belong here—and that’s something we both really needed. And I think you really have to belong somewhere in order to effectively leave that place and explore the world. You can’t have a window without having a wall—you have to have a safe haven to call home to return to, recharge within, and go out from.