When I moved to Chicago I heard, "You're so brave!" countless times. When I uprooted once more and headed east to Philadelphia, the comments on my fearlessness came once again. I never once felt brave or fearless for those moves - they were invigorating and exciting. A natural, easy choice for my heart and mind that want to know and see and learn and discover. There is always some grief and sadness at the people and things that get left - - harder each time. But, only those who know me best call me brave for this move for they know it is the only one that has scared me.
When you move somewhere brand new you get to be you in a new way. I feel confident in saying that the people who know me from Atlanta and from Chicago and from Philadelphia would all describe me in different ways, there are similarities and all of the personas are me - I am not being someone I am not in any of these places. But, I have been different in each place, and I have naturally grown and changed as the moves also came with years. The differences make sense, I have had different roles in each place, different friends, different priorities and amounts of free time and money so I have pursued different things. All of this shines light on different parts of me. The blank-slate you get when you arrive somewhere brand new, all alone, is invigorating. There's nothing quite like having that much freedom to shape a time of your life into whatever will come.
But heading back? Just as I have changed in the five years I've been away, so too have those I left. Still, there is no blank slate there and I am not quite sure what that will look like as I move forward. I am not quite sure how the much-more-outspoken, different opinions and beliefs and priorities, interested-in-different-things me will fit into the place I called home for a couple decades and some change. I guess that's why they say you can't go home again. I am unsure of what crafting myself anew will look like when there are people there I've known for forever.
I find I am not quite sure how to go about these new beginning when it's going back to somewhere old. I am predicting lessons about redemption and the value of roots and memories and traditions, but I don't know. I realize I didn't know what life would look like before any other move either - I may have had a few more details than I do know about what waits at the other end, but I did not know the future any more than I do now. And each time God allowed me home and friendships and family to grow in those new places. I'm sure the same will prove true once again.
I am comfortable with the "three year itch" to reinvent myself - that cycle that seems to beg to try something new. As Meister Eckhart said, "And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings." I think I'll have to learn that new and beginning doesn't have to mean a clean slate and uprooting, time for me to learn a little about roots and staying - the bravery of going back.