It’s been nearly one year to the day since we packed up the schoolhouse and headed south on 65. We pulled into our new, strange neighborhood in a new, strange territory.
The whole thing didn’t feel entirely strange, as we had my family as a welcoming committee, and it is also the South, where there seems to be an air of familiarity everywhere you go, but still a bit strange nonetheless.
The lessons I have learned this year? Well, through those I am still processing. I feel God has been kind to us here, after the rocky end to 2016, with the lessons coming slowly and mostly peacefully. And we have enjoyed our little life we have made here, trials and all.
The highlights of our new life still include lots of family gatherings and spontaneous meet-ups throughout the week; food, delicious food, becoming such a pivotal part of our life; frequent company (though I know that will die down soon, but for now we are enjoying life as tourists too, as we have many friends wanting to visit and explore our city with us); navigating a new place and finding our new favorites, and all the wonders suburbia has to offer (a short commute, a neighborhood pool, great neighbor kids, etc)
We have found several great babysitters (besides family, of course!), a good church, a favorite gym, extracurricular classes to attend, invitations to bar-b-ques and baby showers, and our phones filling up with new contacts. I guess you could say we’ve been established.
On the flip side, I still OFTEN find myself plugging coordinates into a GPS, a blank landscape in my mind when people describe familiar landmarks, a nagging irritation on days off with the girls that there are too many new things to try and not enough old standbys to rely on, a constant conversation about where our social standing will eventually land, and a few wistful thoughts about our life left behind.
A few things that have surprised me about our new hometown is that:
1) there are so many newcomers here. On one hand, it feels a little old hat to not be the “only” new girl in town, but the bonus is, there are a lot of us out here looking for each other.
2) This is going to go a little deep, but I am surprised at how I’ve been confronted with my own racism and thoughts towards socioeconomic disparity . I used to think I was very tolerant and inclusive, only to move down here and realize I have so much work to do. It’s surprising to find this in the South because the stereotype is that racism is rampant here, but what I’ve found to be more true, at least in my hometown, is that it is confronted a lot more here. And that is encouraging, while also giving me a heavy awareness of my own inherent thoughts.
A respected Sunday school teacher once said that the white North doesn’t care how far Black people advance in their social standing as long as they don’t live too near them. And the reverse is true for the white South. They don’t care about how close they live to Black people as long as they don’t cause distress in their social strata. I have thought about this a lot since moving here and have found my background in the North is helping me unpack my future in the South, a little bit. Two unique perspectives, both trying to root out the unnecessary in my own life (and truthfully, there are a lot more colors down here than just two, something I am grateful for my girls to experience).
3) the heat has never bothered me beyond what I remember up North, and I only wore my winter coat three times last year (once being upon return to IN). So that’s a win in my book any day. I no longer feel a dread of fall that winter is just around the corner, because it doesn’t feel as daunting anymore.
4) I thought I was well versed in Southern culture, having spent 12 years growing up here, but I am still learning the culture of this unique city and, and even more minutely, the community where we live. There have been some unique struggles to N’s job that only affect me as his wife. And that’s something I’m learning how to live with too. Sometimes I forget how much change we have made in our lives since 2015, but we are still in many ways, transitioning, and that doesn’t always conclude in a year.
It’s been a year, but it’s been a year. And that’s it. Many that have gone before us have reassured me it takes 3 years to establish yourself in a new place. Having moved twice before, I believe that wholeheartedly. I also believe having babies retards that process a little, as the neediness keeps me home more than I like and I am less apt to go out and explore in the evenings. Nevertheless this is our season, both to nurture and raise, and to meet and establish. I do feel that we will be here a while, Lord willing, so I don’t feel rushed in the process daily, just small longings at times for friends with history.
There’s still a bit of anxiety about trying new things and where to spend our time and with whom. That’s one of the byproducts of moving is not knowing immediately where or how to spend your time and the loss of a good rhythm. I am still searching for that rhythm here, as it has changed a few times with the passing of milestones for Sibs. I will always feel a little scattered without a good rhythm, but with a big disruption coming in March, it feels futile to try too hard to beat one out now.
The good news is, in a town this size, there are plenty of things clamoring for our attention and eager to place us in their tune, it’s just a matter of time and effort to figure out where we best harmonize.