November 2nd was my “Absolute Last Day to Move Back to Phoenix” when I moved home in April, so it’s on my mind.
I thought my move out West last year was permanent. I thought Phoenix would be home base and I’d figure out a way to come back to Petoskey in the summers. I thought I’d be a part of the revival happening in my church out there. I thought I’d work in design and go to film school in-person.
I thought a lot of things.
“Michigan for a month,” or so I told myself. I came back for a best friend’s wedding and wanted temporary work, so I returned to my college job at a bridal shop. Then life happened. My uncle and family were sick. Family became everything. Working in bridal was a bright spot – so much happiness in one place – and they needed me. I was surprised at how much I loved the business. I found an apartment with the sweetest roommate. Now it’s nearly November and I’m still here. Like, HERE-here. Like, just-became-the-manager-of-the-men’s-department-at-the-store-here.
If you’re from a hometown like mine, you understand my chagrin at feeling like George Bailey. It might not sound like it, but I love this town (cue the song, iykyk), or I never would have stayed as long as I have. Petoskey’s beauty isn’t lost on me for a minute, and every person in it makes it that much sweeter. It’s just that Phoenix – Phoenix was mine, my own thing, and it was working out great. But Phoenix isn’t home, even if it felt like it. Petoskey is.
Some things land abruptly and perfectly into our lives, not always by accident – often we choose them, commit wholeheartedly – and just as suddenly, they’re gone. We loved them. We still do. But they’re gone now, nothing we can do about it, so we scrape together a life apart from them. Somehow, second by second, we move forward. And miles down the road we look up and find life is beautiful again, because we’ve found a thousand other ways to see it. And if this is how happy we can be without that thing, imagine the glory if we are ever reunited with it!
As far as I was concerned, Phoenix was a forever move, an Autumn-solo move, and that meant it was going to last. Turns out Phoenix got me where I needed to go, as a person, and then He brought me right back here.
Time will show why. I’m as curious as anyone else. I feel like there’s another Autumn somewhere out in the Valley, working as a design assistant and getting her feet under her.
But there isn’t, there’s just me.
So I stay.
“You can dance in a hurricane,
But only if you’re standing in the eye.”
I’m visiting my grandparents, telling them about my day spent baking pies with my niece. My roommate and I finally got our apartment finessed the way we want it – then woke up to water gushing out of my closet from a chronically leaky pipe. Mold is a concern, so we’re sharing lots of laughs and tears along the way, trying to figure out if we move or sue (lol) or stay and hope for no side effects.
Grandma asks me if I’m happy here. I hesitate so she knows I’m giving it real thought. “Yes, I am,” I finally respond. “It’s not what I expected, or wanted, or asked for, though.”
“No, it’s not,” she says. A pause. “It’s more than you expected – isn’t it?”
The tears come, speaking more than words could.
“Yes, honey, that’s what I thought. That’s how He works.” Another pause. “We’re all glad you’re back, anyway.”
Grandpa calls from the other room for us not to forget about dessert.
We dish up Meijer pumpkin cream cheese cake and Hudsonville ice cream.
The clock sings out eight o’clock.
More than I expected.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
“Can you fight the urge to run for another day?
You might make it further if you learn to stay.”
(The Eye | Brandi Carlile | song below)