820

This is such an interesting post to write.

Two years ago I drove home from a party frantically begging God for a home in every sense of the word. After years of transience in living arrangements, church home, and everything in between I was exhausted. My experiences between 2012 and 2016… They made a mark. Those four years of transition changed my life in a million small ways. I could write a book and still not catch it all.

After taking deep breaths and wiping away tears that night in 2016 I resolved to cultivate home, whatever that might look like. I explored ideas around that word, cultural implications and personal misconceptions as well. I began to see how others created home around me, taking notes and asking myself what this could look like in my own life. I realized that wishing for something doesn’t make it reality and simply wanting something without doing the footwork for it will waste your life.

Really, I learned to be where my feet are, to be rooted.

There’s a song by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros that says home is wherever I’m with you. So I started cultivating community. I began lingering at church a little more which led to new relationships and new small groups. I leaned into deep friendships I already had, seeking opportunities to serve and listen.

I made a job change that fall. The industry was completely new and I found myself challenged daily – full of opportunities to grow and learn.

I soon moved into a home in downtown Rome, commonly known as the 820. I was convinced that heavy furniture would help hold me down a little bit, as if I were a balloon in danger of floating away. Over time I bought chairs and bookshelves, desks and rugs. I hung pictures and curtains on the wall and made casseroles. I bought wreaths for my doors and twinkle lights for my back porch and invited friends over for champagne and game nights. I waved at my neighbors and took walks through the neighborhood, noticing as much as I could from the river currents on the Oostanaula to the graffiti under the bridges. I built a home.

Over time, my perspective shifted from heavy furniture as the only weight to tie me to this place. Home is sort of what you make it. Home is wherever you are. Being rooted doesn’t always mean staying in one place. It definitely isn’t defined by having heavy furniture or your name on a lease or people to fill your table four and five nights a week. It isn’t having a picturesque living place, Instagram ready at a moment’s notice, or clean counters. You make home by showing up for people, investing, and learning that you don’t need to wait on someone else’s permission or presence to live your life. You build a home.

My thirteen months in the 820 were some of my favorites. I decorated my Christmas tree to the sounds of Dolly Parton’s Hard Candy Christmas and Justin Beiber’s Little Drummer Boy. I read twenty books on my couch, on my porch, and in my hammock. I spent slow Saturdays making coffee, cleaning, and cooking. I learned a lot about myself, my make-it-or-break-its and priorities.

At the end of May I moved out of that little home after learning my current job location would be closing. In five short days I rolled up my rugs, took down my curtains, delivered items I didn’t want to Goodwill, and cleaned every inch of the 820. In the blur of facility closing and furniture packing I accepted a position in New England. The day I received the official offer letter I left work early and drove streets so familiar in this Rome home of mine. I wept. It’s hard to leave what you built.

I was angry that I submitted my application all over Rome, reaching out to my contacts and friends for their connections, but could not find a job here.

In arguing with God I realized there was no right answer. He would be around no matter what. Home is wherever I’m with you, as cliché as that may seem.

Fearful of the tearing and breaking required by such a move and the reality that maybe this was the move I was intended to make, I ran to Berry College — literally the one place so deeply written on my heart that it will forever be home. The grass had turned that immaculate shade of green everywhere lighting up campus all over in the brightest spring hue. Donna and I talked for a while. I cried and cried.

Moving is hard.
Leaving is hard.
Even when you know it’s the right thing.

While a big part of me is exhausted and scared, another part of me is insanely excited. It’s going to be so cold; I have to learn how to dress for real winter weather. At the same time, New England is full of so much history and so many new experiences. There are half a dozen baseball stadiums within a day’s drive that must be visited and friends in Newport, New York, and Philly waiting with open arms. I’m genuinely excited to start this new position, eager for the opportunities it will present for growth and the use of skills and talents I love the most.

So…I think I’m going to Boston.

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