We were remarkably unemotional when we left California. I mean, we were sad to go, of course, but mostly I think we were distracted. Distracted by the final details of John’s dissertation, distracted by the planning of our ten day road trip, distracted in our efforts to cram as many mini trips and events into that last week as possible. We were distracted by my impending seven week internship in South Africa, by IFS (initial flight screening) for John in Colorado, by the thought of finding a new place to live and everything that moving entails. Shoot- we didn’t even start packing until the day the movers arrived!
Given those distractions, it wasn’t until we really settled in here after Christmas that we began to reflect on our time in California.
Four miles from the coast in West Los Angeles to middle-of-nowhere Columbus, Mississippi is a pretty big transition. It’s a bit of a challenge to give little Columbus a chance on it’s own. When asked “How do you like Mississippi?”, we’re tempted to say “Well, it’s no California.” Because it’s not at all….and we miss it!
I miss the weather. 75 and sunny everyday doesn’t really get old.
I miss biking everywhere.
I miss reading in the park.
I miss living within blocks of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and co-ops and excellent farmer’s markets.I miss our CSA box and fresh, local produce year round.
I miss unique, delicious restaurants,Yogurtland, good coffee, real sushi, and excellent boba tea.
I miss the ocean. Oh, how I miss the ocean! I miss sandy feet and sandy pockets and a sandy purse and a sandy Bible. Even though it was usually freezing, I miss long walks with the waves splashing my feet. There’s something incredibly grounding about standing at the edge of the ocean, the edge of our continent, looking out over an endless expanse of crashing blues. Unknown, unexplored, deep, dark and awesome! J. I. Packer said that “the life of true holiness is rooted in the soil of awed adoration.” Walking the shore, diving among kelp forests, watching blue whales- we were in awe of the Creator. The magnitude and beauty of the ocean drove us to worship the most magnificent and beautiful one.
I miss hikes after church, hikes to celebrate birthdays and hikes just because. I miss the mountains and the desert and Yosemite valley and groves of Sequoias. In general, I miss living in a place that simply begged to be explored, a place where being active and outside was so natural and easy.
I miss the kids at Broadway Elementary. The sweet ones, yes, but also and maybe even particularly the fighters- the cursing, disrespectful, impossible children, because not even I can begin to understand what a dark and lonely road they are on. And I wonder if anyone is listening to them. I wonder if anyone has assured them that even if your dad is in jail and your mom is a drug addict and you don’t feel smart or pretty and no one expects you to accomplish anything in this life, that you are deeply loved and so very, very valuable. I wonder if they know that there is, by the grace of God, hope for a better story than the one they are living.
I miss Pacific Crossroads Church. Sermon podcasts are great, but cannot replace the blessing of being involved in a gospel-centered, Jesus-loving, thinking, creative, passionate church.
I miss our life groups. I miss inductive Bible studies, especially the nights we didn’t think it possible to glean anything new from a particular passage because we were always, always proven wrong. Every time, we came away with fresh insights and a renewed love for the Word of God. Our Bible studies were Spirit-filled and life-giving. I miss our dinners together and the way we prayed for one another. I miss the real community we created.
I miss our friends. These were friendships we prayed for before John moved out to Los Angeles alone to begin grad school. God answered those prayers immediately and powerfully and, as an added bonus to gaining John as my husband, his friends became my friends, too.
I miss finishing-a-PhD-John. Because even though it was stressful and hard and involved a few too many all-nighters, our schedule was much more flexible and we had more time for one another. What a perfect way to begin our marriage!
I miss our tiny apartment with its crooked walls and shoddy paint job and creaking cupboards. And I think I miss it most- all of these things, really- because this was where our life together began. This was the place we unpacked together, the place where we first organized our closet and purchased furniture and hung photos. This was the place we first made our own, declaring it to be our home. Ours, our own little family in our own little home.
And we know that “home” is not 1631 Westgate or Zion, IL or Pleasant Prairie, WI, but wherever we are together. We will move countless times in the years to come. We’ll rearrange furniture and buy different curtains and pack and unpack ad nauseum… but our first will always be particularly special.
We have many goodbyes ahead of us and I’m learning that maybe distraction isn’t the worst thing.
Maybe it’s best to not think about saying goodbye, to not pack too many boxes until the movers arrive. Because if we’re always waiting for what’s next, we’ll be missing what’s now. And even though it’s no California, now isn’t half bad, either. More on that to come!