September 14. A good day. A full day. The feast day of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, and as such, we had a morning Liturgy at St. Elias. I would be dishonest if I said I always appreciated the opportunity to be in church on a Saturday morning, but I really do like starting my day at church…and ending it there, as well; in the evening we had a combined Vespers service together with a neighboring parish to welcome our visiting Bishop.
It was a very, very good and full day.
After Vespers a group of us went out for dinner and over Indian food we talked about a host of things, from school to work to why so many Orthodox converts tend to be nerdy cat people (guilty as charged). There was a moment there, and it didn’t fully hit me until I was driving home later that night, but in the midst of our conversation I was struck by one thing…
This is real and this is yours.
I am nostalgic by nature, I know, but I’ve tried to avoid indulging that side of myself too much. I’ve never wanted to hold on too tightly to the past or to continually stack my life before against my life now. In some respects it’s inevitable, of course: I grew up in semi-rural New England and I now live in urban Texas. Virtually every detail of my life has changed in one way or another, and there is no way that I won’t make SOME mental comparisons. But the vast differences in location, climate, and culture can also make it easier to appreciate the blessings and the drawbacks of both places, disparate as they may be. For all that I love and miss my quiet Maine woods, I have never once regretted my move to Austin.
But it’s hard, and the hardest part has been not the culture or the climate but the newness: I am new here. To appreciate what that means you really do have to appreciate that I spent the first 27 years of my life in one place, most of those years in the same house and most of those years in the same church. I have known nearly all of my friends for at least a decade, if not longer. I know very few people who have moved away (and even fewer who moved to New England “from away”). I had only one job on my resume when I began my job hunt in Texas: I held it for 8 years, and in terms of seniority, I was one of the lowest-ranked in our department. New England is, I think, a pretty remarkable example of a firm and steadfast culture; I am from a rooted land of rooted people.
Texas is a very rooted place too, but just as a transplanted plant does not immediately dig in to the new soil, my roots have taken a while to find purchase here. I don’t have family to fall back on. I don’t have a shared sense of space or a common culture. All of the things that I never had to think about before are more prominent in my mind now: friends do not come automatically. Some may be more used to transience; I am used to years of shared history. Of all of the adjustments that I have had to make over the past year and a half, this one has been the hardest.
575 days of constant tweaking, bringing about an alignment that I didn’t even see until it all just clicked very firmly into place.
It’s like the first time you get mail addressed to your new apartment, or the first time you refer to your brother and his wife, and you realize that something about your life has irrevocably and wonderfully changed. Nevermind that you’d been planning the move for over a year, or that you yourself were in your brother’s wedding party: there are moments when it all just *clicks*
This is real and this is yours.
On Saturday I went to church – I have a church home here, a growing, thriving, loving community of which I am blessed to be a part. On Saturday I went out to dinner with friends – I have friends here. We may not have known each other for very long, but we get along with ease (and that shared history? we’re working on it.) On Saturday I gave directions. I won’t lie, that sense of space is kind of a big deal for me – I have a place here.
All of the rootedness that I thought that I was missing? It’s been digging down deep for the last 575 days. It’s hit some dry spots; it’s even hit a few rocks. The soil here is different: it’s harsher in some ways, more accommodating in others. For 575 days my roots have recalled their familiar ground while growing and changing to find a new sense of security. Stable, solid, and steadfast. This new ground is HOME.