Thursday, July 24, 2014

I sat down to write this about six weeks ago - it just happened to fall through the cracks and didn't make it here until now. A lot has happened in the last few weeks in terms of our thoughts and feelings for this place and our definition of home. It's all still a muddled mess, but we're learning. We've learned about financial struggles and how they can make life seem like a prison, like there is no way out of your current situation and no where to turn. I've come to have a lot more sympathy for the homeless when I see them on the street because I know how temporal financial security is and how easy it is for anyone to lose everything. I know how easy it is to fall behind and feel like you'll never be able to catch up. We've learned about the love and the provision of Christ through the church more here than anywhere else. We learn more about what a church community looks like each week. Our definitions of 'home' and 'family' have been redefined. We've become stronger as a family, more dedicated to each other than we thought we ever could be, and we've learned that simple things are the best things. You don't need an extravagant house and you don't even need to live in an extravagant place like New York City to call it home. This has been the hardest year of our lives, but it hasn't been for nothing.

There are still boxes hidden away in our hallway closet, half of my clothes still aren't on hangers because we ran out, and all of my craft boxes are still piled under an unfinished table in our living room. None of this is bothering me in particular, but it's all collectively contributing to the unsettled feeling that we still have. I wrote about making this place ours before and how little moments seem to be adding up to make this city feel like home, but we still can't shake the feeling that we're on vacation, like we'll be headed back to New Mexico any day now. We get out for walks along the bay often and the smell of the ocean still surprises me. We hit the top step before they descend to the promenade and I still stop and inhale and can't help but let a smile slide across my face. The struggle that we thought would be over when we finally made it here has continued due to circumstances out of our control and it's taken a toll on all of us, but every time we stand on that top step we can't help but turn our conversation towards our knowing we're supposed to be here. Some days I fear that this will never feel final, that this big dream that we managed to accomplish will always feel clumsy and not just right. This is the clearest life decision we've ever made, but it just feels weird. We've never experienced this before - each time we've moved, we've anticipated it for so long that when the time comes we're rejoicing! This move was fast and furious and we were torn away from home like you would tear off a band-aid. A sting has followed.

I find myself missing our life back in New Mexico a lot - our routine, our friends we made, our grocery stores. You'd be surprised at how one little thing, like not being able to find or buy the same food, can throw you off. I've been going through pictures, trying to get them all in order, and plenty of them just feel like a punch to the gut. I find it hard to wrap my mind around the idea of another family living in that house, the house we loved to hate, our dream come true in a city full of crumbling stuccos. I can remember peeking over the fence into a backyard of green and running back to the truck with excitement - 'There's grass! And big trees! It's amazing!' I said, trying not to smile any wider than I had already allowed. It was a miracle that anyone would let the two of us buy a house, two people who still felt like kids. Sometimes I like to pretend we're still there, Air Force Alex and new Mama me and that Evie that used to army crawl across the hardwood floors and all her pants had the knee stains to prove it. We're not those same people anymore and we're here in Brooklyn, but sometimes I like to imagine parts of us are there too. I like to think as I'm sitting on the mattress on the floor reading books to Ev that year ago me is laying year ago Ev down in her crib and shutting that wooden door to make my way down the hall and into the kitchen, bare feet across cold tile floors.

I've never made a move and then felt so conspicuous for so long. Everywhere I go I feel this tense sense of awkwardness following me - I order a bagel and the man behind the counter yells for me to speak up. I walk to the park and am met with stares from the women on the benches because they don't recognize me and my kid is met with bullies. I walk along the street, pushing the stroller along with one hand, holding my phone in the other to glance at the map. Hell, we didn't get mail for two months because I had no idea that the post office won't deliver your mail here unless your name is on the outside of the box! It's obvious every day that this isn't home yet, but I've found you don't feel quite as self conscious if you just own it, if you just force your face and your body to say 'I'm here and I'm loving it and I'm making it home.' You don't let the awkward moments phase you, you smile at the women staring and have courage enough to tell someone's kid they aren't being kind, you shamelessly turn around two or three times in a five minute timespan and keep walking like you know exactly where you're going, you don't stop at the top of the subway stairs and wonder how you're going to get your two year old, stroller, groceries, and diaper bag down the stairs and through the turnstiles - you just push on and you do it to the sounds of 'I am woman - hear me roar!' in your head.

Our home is just a muddled mess these days and I'm trying to just breathe, let it go, and tell myself it won't be like this forever, but I know our home has stayed this way in other places the entire time that we lived there. We bought a three bedroom house in Albuquerque and couldn't manage to fill any of it up in the two years that we lived there. We didn't hang a single picture on the wall or paint or even buy a new piece of furniture - that's just us, but when we moved here we promised it wouldn't be us anymore because the gypsies have tired of not having a home, of living inside a box. If I could have chosen a single place in the country to live for the rest of my life before we made this move, it would be here, but we still find ourselves talking about our forever home. Maybe all New Yorkers do this? In a place like this that feeling of being on vacation is bound to reoccur whether you've lived here two months or twelve years. There are a million things to do here every day, a million choices to make, a million memories to be made. It all feels like a completely absurd dream. We've found that we have to force ourselves to slow down and remind ourselves that this is home for now - there's no need to run from one thing to the next, devouring it all without ever savoring a bite. We have years to explore.


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