It’s been a Southern winter this year. We’ve definitely had a fair amount of rain and gloomy days (evidenced by two roof leaks that has inducted us into the realities of home ownership), but peppered throughout them are stretches of sun and cheerfulness. It took awhile for my kids to understand that the Seattle weather rule that sun usually equals warm weather doesn’t apply here. Outside our window it can look like July but be 20 degrees, and that has taken some explaining to get Harris to understand that his shorts would have to go away for a while even though the sun is still shining.
It’s taken some getting used to for me, too. Getting used to the blinding sunlight as I drive Evelyne to kindergarten in the morning, getting used to the strange joy that wells up within me as I put on my sunglasses and think, “This is winter! The sun is shining, and it’s beautiful, and it’s winter!!!” I seriously haven’t gotten over it yet.
It’s been four months since we moved from Seattle to Memphis. It’s been a very fast four months because when you move somewhere that you know, somewhere that’s home and you fall right back into what you used to know, time feels like it’s moving more quickly. Life gets moving more naturally than when you move your family somewhere you’ve never been. When I think about what it was like after living four months in Seattle back in 2008, I remember it feeling like an eternity. My world was very different then, and it’s hard work making a life in a new place when every person you know is a brand new relationship.
When people have asked me what it’s like being back in Memphis, I keep telling them that I’m most surprised about how little adjustment I feel like I’ve had to make. I grew up here, we lived here after we were married, Evelyne was born here, our families are here… We knew why we wanted to move back, and we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into to be back. And we were right, it’s been a very natural and normal transition to fall back into such a familiar place. It’s been a blast falling back into old friendships and family relationships with the realization of, “I live here now! I can see you again next week, not just once every six months!”
Sometimes I catch myself driving down a familiar street and think, “I’m really back, I really live here now. I’m 32 and have three kids, and this is my life now.” And it makes me really happy. It feels like the beginning of a new chapter, the one that is going to be around for awhile.
When we first moved here, we lived with my parents for two months while we looked for a house. We were really unsure about how the timing would work for the best time to move, but things ended-up moving faster than I expected, and we were in our new house in the beginning of December.
We love our house. I’m not sure how I feel about saying “It’s a miracle! God gave us this house, we prayed for a house like this, and He gave it to us! Isn’t He just wonderful how He answers prayer?!” because I’m very cognizant of the fact that there are millions of people in our world, people in my city, whose prayers He is not answering. People who don’t have a house, who are losing their house, who are living with twenty people in a small apartment, who are sleeping on the street. What about their prayers? I kinda feel like the person who says God gave her the best parking space. But at the same time, I know that God has our family in this house and it has been in a very real sense, a gift from Him. I’m not sure what to do with that tension, it is what it is, I suppose.
One of the things I was looking the most forward to about moving to Memphis is putting down roots, and the past four months have definitely been filled with that for me. I love this house because we intend to be here a very long time. Clay and I both picture raising our family here, having more kids here, having teenagers here. I look around this place and imagine our future, imagine what my kids will look like in this room ten years from now, how I will drive them up this driveway one million times, that I will wake-up in this bedroom for years to come, that we will have hundreds of family dinners in this kitchen. I imagine how our family’s life and loves will be held by these walls, and I am overwhelmed with what a gift that is. (Can you tell I get easily attached to places?)
On the flip side, I really do miss Seattle. I’m still rocking the Washington license plate (I had to get a new driver’s license as soon as I got here to register Evelyne for school, and I wanted to cry turning-over my Washington one), and I like to imagine that people in the car line at the elementary school think we’re a cool Northwestern family. I miss the city, I miss our cul-de-sac, our neighbors, our church, our friends, and even our tiny, dumpy, little rental house where we became a real family. (Come Summer I’m REALLY gonna miss Seattle! My ankles are covered in mosquito bites from the one random warm day we had last week!) Even though we grew-up here, I think Clay and I feel kinda like Northwestern transplants rather than born-and-bred Southerners.
Living in Washington changed us. We both feel like it changed the trajectory of our lives in more than one way. I think I was starting to become a different kind of person, a different kind of Christian, before we moved to Seattle, and living there was the exact right thing at the exact right time. And Clay is very much a different kind of physical therapist than he was when he left here. And now we’re figuring-out how to live in this old place in a new way. I think that’s what most people do as they grow and mature, wondering how do I live in a new way in a place that has only known me as I have always been? And how do we allow others the space to change themselves while in friendship? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
So here we are. In Memphis, in February. Really happy to be here, but a little disoriented that Seattle is so far away and already four months behind us. I am so thankful for a sense of permanence and history and home, but I know a part of me will always belong in the evergreen state. Memphis is the home that we chose, but I think Seattle made me the kind of person that could make that choice with intention.