I have always liked to travel. I relish moving. I had a chaotic childhood, shuffling between parents, step-parents, old houses to new, townhouses to apartments to duplexes, summers with relatives, trips with the youth group, and later, with missions organizations. For the greater part of college, I could fit my life’s belongings into either a Nissan 240SX or a Geo Tracker; until my senior year I never lived in one place more than nine months. Every chance I had to study or travel abroad, I took, even if it was just a chance whim.
I came back from all this, and by the grace of God moved into an amazing house with five other fantastic roommates; I felt it was my time to learn to stay. I remained in Seattle after graduation and see what life I could make for myself here; out in the “real world” and in my “career.” I managed to stay in that Greenlake basement for over a year; working three jobs, getting superb grades in my senior year, paying off all that credit card debt from my travels. I was more or less content with my life there.
Then, along came a certain boy, and suddenly, I was married and moving again – this time into our first apartment. We decided to “settle” for at least a year, try out working “big kid” jobs and weaving our lives together. I found a dream job (though with nightmarish pay); Tyler worked at Starbucks, and then moved onto a more relaxed, but well-paying position at J Crew. We got an adorable kitten. We accumulated things, so many things. Kitchen things, bathroom things, alley furniture, clothes. I still managed to take some short trips to places fairly often – we went away on weekends to Whidbey Island, to Victoria, we even made it to Paris, and Ensenada; I even made it all the way to Guatemala with my work. This allowed me to stay – to be content. I got used to our life in our little apartment on Lower Queen Anne; used to our “things,” used to meeting friends for drinks, used to being awestruck by mountains and green everyday, used to our weekly rhythm; we made friends, we made regular plans, we joined a gym and took up new hobbies. I got to know every single neighborhood in Seattle; knew every boutique eatery and coffee shop and always had a list of dozens to try. Before I knew it, we’d been in same place for three great years. Tough years, hard, learning years, but also fantastic. Had I finally balanced the tension between being a sojourner and settling down?
Is this what it means to stay, and love it? Seven wonderful years in Seattle… Growing up with the same inspiring group of youth all these years; going to their graduations, advising their senior projects, proof-reading college applications. Bursting into tears as they move away to college and our little group disintegrates. Sharing our sorrows, struggles, and joy? Investing in our community by volunteering, planting trees, and weeding blackberry and ivy? We’ve had so many of those special “moments” where time freezes and you’re lost in a song, a view, or an interaction. I always try to hold onto those moments as they pass, hoping they’ll stay forever. Of course, they pass and life continues on. I cherish the last one, and look forward to the next; each unique yet similar. It reminds me of when we studied Ecclesiastes at Bethany Community Church: nothing is forever. But God wants us to be thankful for each moment, knowing that it won’t last, and joyfully look forward to the next. Have faith that He will keep giving them to us, whether we stay or go.