It snowed last night and as I sit at Misha’s, a comfy coffee house in Old Town Alexandria, it has begun to snow again. I’m so happy about the snow. I played the tourist on my walk here by pulling out my phone to take photos. That may be a tiny sign that I’m still new to the area.
I am approaching one year here (in 10 days to be exact). I’ve passed a few road signs over this past year that prove I’ve been on this journey long enough to be changed. I’m no longer cognizant of the details of the bedroom I wake up in each morning. I don’t spend anytime thinking about what I need to get to furnish our condo. I’ve got a routine for bringing shopping bags up from the garage and taking trash bags down to it. When I walk to the grocery store I’m adept at knowing how much I can carry home. I rarely get lost anymore. I walk through familiar neighborhoods daily. I don’t have to think about metro etiquette. I can sight a tourist on the metro: they’re making the same mistakes I made – they look confused by the metro maps; they don’t stand on the right on escalators to allow others to walk up the left side; they hold the rest of us up at the exit stalls.
Did you catch that? I put myself in the group called “us”.
It was a no brainer that I’d have different opportunities here than I had in California. High on the list is that I’m living 15 minutes from the capital of our country. Our capital is gorgeous. I’m interested in American history. I enjoy museums. I’m surrounded by sites that interest me. I chose Alexandria to live in because it’s not comparable to a California suburb. It’s highly walkable. The architecture is entirely different. It’s historic. It is built along the Potomac river. It’s a city with greater economic disparities than my old California suburb, more obvious needs, which make for greater opportunities to serve others. I have not been surprised that life here is different.
Of course, there are still things that surprise me. It’s actually more common place to meet a friend for coffee or lunch or a walk. Somehow the busy city life is more conducive to friends getting together. Maybe it’s because you have to fight for new friendships. Maybe it’s because there are more transplants here. Maybe it is because fewer women have family living nearby.
I’m also surprised by the many reminders of California that accost my eyes. Yes, I know, accost is a rather dramatic word. I never realized that countless commercials are filmed at the beaches, in the hills, on the mountains, and across the deserts of California. And for crying out loud (literally), did “La La Land” have to come out my first year away from California? I know it showed California at its finest. The smog, ugly inner city buildings, lack of trees and water, and crazy-mad congestion weren’t featured. Even the scenes with traffic were glorified. But California with its beauty, sun, sun and more sun, has been the setting of my story for all but this one year of my life. Seeing it on small and large screens hits all kinds of nerves. Oy!
Misha’s plays jazz in the background. Right now my typing is accompanied by good ole Satchmo. But the jazz isn’t taking me back to La La Land. I’m right here in Virginia. And it’s right that I’m here in Virginia. Jesus keeps confirming that. Even as I realize hopping on a plane to visit my parents isn’t as easily achieved as I desire. Even when I miss family and California friends. Even when I still sound like a foreigner. (Did you know you’re not supposed to put the word “the” in front of a highway number? For example, don’t say, “You take the 95 to get to Richmond”)?
On the day I moved here the Holy Spirit impressed on me that everything of worth has a cost and yet nothing is lost. I’m so thankful for those words from Him.
The past year has brought about much gain. God has shown me areas I’ve needed to grow in, repent from, and/or leave behind. He’s also shown me purposes I needed to step into. They were exposed by this move. God has been giving me the more that he promises all of us. The more only comes with my permission. The more only comes when I keep letting go of control. The more only comes when I ask God for eyes to see what He’s up to in my life and the lives of those I love. The more only comes when I choose to get to know Him more and when I respond by loving Him more.
It has stopped snowing. This newbie wants more snow. More than snow, more than DC, more than Virginia, more than California, I want Jesus. I want to recognize more fully what He has done for me and experience more fully the freedom He’s given me. I want to thank Him more consistently by the way I live and the thoughts I think.
I want more. I’m confident that I’m gonna get it, because with Jesus there are no dead ends. There is always more around the corner.