I have added a new section to the blog, as I have had a few readers write in with questions, which I love, and think they make for good content for the blog. Enjoy!
“I’m leaving home for the first time and I’m afraid. Do you have any words of wisdom?”
During my time living in Georgia, I worked as the Communications Coordinator for a traditional Episcopal Church.
When I interviewed for the job, I interviewed via Skype because I was still living in Washington, my home state. I interviewed without pants on…actually. I sat in bed with my hair and makeup done, wearing a professional shirt, with a cup of coffee in hand, and made sure that the screen was tilted up towards my face. It was adulting at it’s finest.
Part of me was certain that I wouldn’t get the job. I had made a couple of my values clear during the interview, about the way in which I believe all people should be welcome in church, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. For those of you who aren’t familiar with church, it was kind of a bold move on my part to interview for a job, but articulate that I wouldn’t be a good fit for the position if we do not share the same values in welcoming everyone.
Turns out, we shared the same values. A few hours later, I got the job.
I started the job a week after I arrived to my new home. Aside from being enamored by the decadent homes, I was lost, I was afraid of the new culture because I didn’t know where I fit into it yet, I was armored with my misconstrued stereotypes, and I was really sweaty, because Georgia is hot and humid. On my first day, I walked into a brick building with high ceilings and vibrant stained glass windows, to meet a team of people who used liturgical words I didn’t understand, and I sat there wondering what I had just gotten myself into. I was a liberal girl from the Seattle, Washington area with a tendency towards sailors mouth, who interviewed without pants on, who was now working in a deeply traditional church in the heart of the bible belt. I felt wildly out of my element.
While in Georgia I also spent a good portion of my time in an old antique shop. The old man who ran it was incredibly grumpy. Despite the fact his artifacts were stacked one on top of the other, in what appeared to be a disorganized array of fragmented parts of history, he loved his shop very much. During my first time in his shop, like a bull I had charged into an area clearly marked as private with signs reading “do not touch,” all over the place. I had seen a historic book on the shelf, and I wanted to touch it. I picked it up with the gentleman only a few feet behind me howling about my inability to read the clearly marked signs. I told him “Of course I can read or I wouldn’t know what this book is.”
Despite his short-tempered disposition I continued to go back to explore his shop. He had some of the most beautiful and unique artifacts I had ever seen, and his knowledge of them was abounding. During my time in Georgia, I came to enjoy my afternoons in the shop; I would frequently go in with a beer for him, and a lemonade for me, and ask him to teach me about something. We would stand and talk about history – books and trinkets, music and travel, and what made all of these relics special. I came to know, through my time learning about his shop and helping him to prep it, that his goal in life had been to build a museum. As far as I was concerned, he had accomplished that…though to the untrained eye his shop may have looked like a graveyard for antiquities.
So writer, you may be wondering why I tell you these stories, and what they have to do with leaving home.
I tell you these stories because I recently was standing in a different church in the middle of mid Missouri, and the smell of the bibles in the pews took my brain back to the moment I walked into the Episcopal church in Georgia. I could hear the laughter of the groundskeeper at my previous job and the the giggles of the children running down the hall and the comforting sounds of the hymns, and I felt happy. I came to deeply love my time working with the church and I cherish those memories. The antiquities on the stage reminded me of the times I rummaged through the cemetery of heirlooms in the old antique shop, and it made me miss my old friend. I felt like damning my photographic memory at that moment because I felt sad. I felt sad because recalling these memories was the feeling of missing home. How funny it was to think I was missing home, a place that at first I had been so unsure about.
You see dear writer, sometimes the places we are used to, are not the places we belong. That was certainly true for me, but I just didn’t know it until I left. I didn’t know how much growing I wasn’t doing in a place I had become complacent, until I overcame of the fear of leaving for the first time.
Despite my initial discomfort with my new surroundings, I learned that as humans, we have the unique propensity to make home anywhere, in the most absurd places. The church that originally felt so foreign to me became home for me, a safe and beautiful place to be, and many of the people became my family. I still keep in touch with many of them. The antique shop became part of that story of home as well, because my spirit found excitement on the tops of old book shelves and in dusty old drawers, and until the day the old shop keeper died, I kept in touch with him.
So dear writer, you may be afraid to leave the home you are leaving now, but you will find home again. What a lovely thing it is to find home in unexpected places. To find bits of our soul in nooks high on shelves and in the cracks along the pavement. What a divine thing to find places to rest our spirit and leave a little of that goodness behind for others as well. And you may be lucky enough to find new meaning in the word ‘home,’ just as I did – characterized not by walls and objects, but in beautiful new people to love and enjoy, who draw the best version of you out.
For advice on leaving home, please consider reading one of my previous blog posts: A Letter to the Person Leaving Home for the First Time
Good luck on your adventure.
Love & Light,