I do not want to move.
Eesh. That feels scary to admit.
I have never, in my entire memory, not wanted to move. In the first six years of our marriage, Nick and I lived in six different homes, in five cities, and in three states, and I still love moving. I love going somewhere new, where everything is fresh and anything is still possible.
But as we creep closer to the end of graduate school, we have started to casually toss around talk of what will be next. I could feel my internal jaw dropping as I heard myself think, I want to stay here.
It is certainly not because Iowa City is my dream town (although, it is pretty awesome) or that I’ve always dreamed of living surrounded by cornfields. It is not because we love our house or our neighborhood or the schools.
So what, then? What is wrong with me?!?
It is their fault – my people – these quirky, caring, graceful, inappropriate, brilliant, frustrating, witty and spectacularly amazing families who are overflowing with incomprehensible love. By some fluke, we all genuinely enjoy each other. The guys go camping and play pool. There are frequent ‘girls’ nights out.’ The kids have sleepovers.
They have seen my house at its lowest level of habitability. They have shooed us out the door on date nights while my kids were kicking and screaming on the floor. They have hugged me even though it had been four days since my last shower. We have broken bread together with an Easter katana (don’t ask). I have snort-laughed at their inappropriate jokes, hugged them in their despair and spat out fuming words at them, angry tears dotting their couch. We surround each other during the rough times, risk confronting each other when we see something amiss, irritate each other, and hurt each others’ feelings when we get too caught up in our own lives. We have been collectively broken and helped each other pick up the pieces.
I know that no matter what happens to me, my girls will have a handful of women all within a 30-minute drive who would show them how to be women of grace, honor and integrity. They would have someone to go bra shopping with, have “the talk” with and ask them the hard questions. And no matter what happens to Nick, there are a handful of men who would step up to show the girls how a man should respect, care for and cherish them. They would have someone to scrutinize their prom dates, tell them how boys really think, and teach them how to write code and wire a circuit.
These relationships have been a long, intentional time in the making. It has required way more sacrifice than I anticipated – sacrificing time, personal space, money and the freedom to do what I want whenever I want. But I would do it again in a heartbeat because these people are worth it. We are (imperfectly) learning together how to let go of this heavily ingrained American idea that my family is a self-sustaining entity. I had to learn to set boundaries, but recognize that the needs of my family cannot always come first. I have had to learn how to ask for and accept help without feeling guilt. My children have had to learn that sometimes they have to put their own needs aside for the moment to help another. And they have seen their friends return the favor. I am learning what it actually means to be the church.
We certainly don’t all agree on how to discipline, or who the president should be, or what method of schooling is the best. But we do all agree that who our kids become is infinitely more important than what they learn to do. We agree that teaching them unconditional love and introducing them to the One who made them is the most important thing we can give them.
I have had these depths of friendships throughout my life, but never a group of families in one place. For the first time, I feel like I have a community to raise my children. I don’t feel the pressure to have it all together as a parent. And I have no doubt how much they love us. I hope they know the same.
I know how much mutual investment went into my people and I recognize it for the rare gem that it is. I want my girls to grow up in the messy love of this crazy group of people.
I don’t know if we will get to stay. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring for my friends. It is terrifying and heartbreaking for me to think about leaving my people and having to start that arduous process all over again.
But tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I am so thankful that today I have this amazing group of people who we love and who love us in return.
And that alone, is worth living the rest of my life surrounded by corn.