No Place Like Home

My cousin got married last fall. Like many weddings, it was an occasion for family and friends to reminisce, reconnect, and bond. The wedding reception found me tucked away in a corner with a few cousins, most notably, the beautiful, often elusive, V.  She inquired about my dissertation defense, mere days away, and my future plans. At that point I only knew I had to move. The sooner the better.

Home, Not Home
Athens had never been home to me, and Atlanta, although a great city in many ways, didn’t feel all that homey to me either. That I was born and raised there was immaterial. It wasn’t “home.”

V, a flight attendant, gushed about her love of NYC. It was her favorite city. She felt like herself there. Despite her world travels, there was no place she’d rather be. I wondered where my NYC would be. I knew it would be some place with a mild climate, near beaches, but that’s as far as I could figure.

Sunrise at Pass-A-Grille Beach

Border Crosser
I finished my Master’s degree 11 years ago. Since then I have moved seven times (four of those between GA and FL). Most of those moves were one and two year stints, and I usually knew they were temporary going in. I realized I was closer to finding home a year ago when I left St. Petersburg to return to Athens, and found myself aching for the luscious green grass, the humid, salty air, and the calming beaches. But even though there were many things I liked, even loved, about St. Pete, I still wasn’t ready to call it home.

A few weeks after the wedding, I graduated and found myself “in between.” I don’t do in between well. Job hunting and city hunting, I felt I had no clarity on next steps. Eventually it all took a toll on me and left me feeling kind of blah. Finally, I made some decisions, and in true form, the universe responded in kind. Within a few days I had a job offer, a clear path, and a new city to try out.

Where the Heart Is
This move was the first one during which I felt I were moving toward a new life. It felt permanent. Real. Settled.

I knew I was on to something when I had to visit my “hometown” (Atlanta) a few days after my move. Traveling to the airport, I was a child being dragged inside from the playground. No! Don’t wanna!

At the end of my three days there, I smiled inside, happy to be back on the plane heading back home, even though home was just a few days old.

Everyone who visits my new digs mentions how I seem poised to start a new life here. To them it feels like home.

To me too.

No Place Like Home

On the Timeliness of Untimely Calls

I was minding my own business. I had just pulled into the parking lot of a local pharmacy, where I aimed to return an overpriced item. My phone rang and an unknown Atlanta number flashed on the display. I’m not great about answering unknown numbers but 1) I have a new phone and all of my contacts didn’t transfer, and 2) I’m in the middle of job hunting and apartment hunting. Those things being the case, I picked up not knowing who may have been on the line.

A woman responded to my hello and stammered an introduction: “Um. Hi, my name is Sharon. I’m not sure if I’m calling the right place, or if you even have anything to do with it…so this may sound strange…but I used to work for…” She went on to explain who she was and how she knew my dad. She was a receptionist where he worked over 25 years ago. It was her first job out of college. He left a mark. She wanted to say thank you and see how he was.

She told me stumbled across a website about me while searching for his name. She offered me congratulations on finishing my doctorate and said she noticed a comment that seemed to imply my parents were deceased. I confirmed the sad news which prompted a series of sorries from her.

It is not unusual for people to contact me wondering how one or the other of my parents are, and it usually doesn’t effect me all that much. My mom passed away in 2003 and my dad in 2006. But today’s call struck me. I was nearly undone in the parking lot, suddenly missing my dad. I’ve never made it a secret of being a daddy’s girl and I was actually surprised I wasn’t more tearful about him or mom during my graduation festivities. But here I was, totally missing him, choking out thank you, but simultaneously present enough to wonder what he wanted me to know.

As random as this call seemed, I was suddenly sure it was very purposeful guidance. I’ve been sleepwalking the past couple of months. I just finished a 3+ year stint in graduate school with non-stop days (weeks? months?) of writing and thinking. I put myself on a vacation from “real life” while I transition from student to – whatever role I play now. I’ve been hibernating and whiling away my days, and my journaling and reiki practices have suffered. I’m no longer a leader in my Buddhist organization (due to moving around, not to lack of desire) and my practice has been a bit on the unfocused side. All of the things that help provide clarity and meaning in my life have been fading and blurring in the background. I’ve been on autopilot. Note: Autopilot isn’t a helpful setting if you’re trying to reinvent yourself and become clearer on your purpose and next steps.

And so here comes this call. While Sharon was talking, I scrounged up a piece of mail and a sharpie. I jotted what she said was most important to her and still rang true these decades later. She explained that my daddy was always calm and full of wisdom he was happy to share, he encouraged sensible solutions to problems, and told her (especially as a young person full of energy but no direction) to plan every step.

That definitely sounds like my dad. He was always quiet, steady, persistent, focused and driven. (And extremely silly too, just to be clear). I definitely believe this call was to nudge me back on track as 2010 comes to an end and the new decade begins. I take it as a reminder to both seek out and share wisdom, to take more responsibility in envisioning, planning and co-creating my future, yet to be patient as things unfold.

Here’s to the journey. Thanks Daddy! Happy new year!

xoxo

On the Timeliness of Untimely Calls