I recently returned from a very fun road trip up the coast of California with a dear friend from seminary. She’s one of those people with whom I can spend days on end and we never tire of each other. We were in the car, in hotels and completely together for 6 days straight, and still I would turn around and do it again tomorrow. As a pretty hard core introvert, I can count the number of people in my life with whom I have that relationship on one hand. She’s a person who is like home to me.
Home is a tricky concept. It’s people, it’s places, it’s feelings, it’s food, it’s smells, it’s pictures, it’s sounds and it’s silence. I have a geographical home, which is Arizona. I am from here. I’m a desert girl. I draw energy from the open space and big sky. I love single-digit humidity. My hair just works here. I like swimming most of the year. I have a perma-tan. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece & nephew are here. I can afford to live here. I know the streets, the places, the culture. It’s familiar and comforting.
And yet, I have this other home of San Francisco. I lived there for almost 15 years. At this point, that’s 36% of my life (side note: that’s depressing. Kind of thought it would be more). I really grew up there. I was 26 when I moved there. I had some of my first grown up jobs, there, went to seminary there, made and lost friends there, developed a pretty good pallet there, and learned a lot about life there. The majority of my close friends are still there. My church is still there.
Last Sunday I attended church at my home church and it reminded me rather starkly how much I don’t have a community here yet. It very much felt like home. We baptized a beautiful baby girl and committed to helping her two moms raise her to follow Christ. We took communion. We discussed. We surprised our pastor with a flash mob on her 2nd anniversary. That’s the church I want and haven’t quite found yet. It was hard. Not going to lie – it gave me the feels. And I know it’s not fair to think I can find the exact thing here. But that church has ruined me for finding another place of worship. That’s my church. It’s home.
The Sunday I came back from my trip I attended the church I’ve been visiting for a couple of months. When I walked in the screen read, “Welcome Home!” Then after church, I went to a yoga class at the studio where I am a member and they had a sign on the front desk that read, “Welcome home!” This is becoming a pattern.
I’ve spent time since I got back from this trip really thinking about what home means for me. I want to be here and I want to be back in SF. I think God has given me some specific instructions before I can return. I’m doing the networking I need to do to make it back eventually, but for the foreseeable future, I’m here. I’m choosing every day to be present to this experience, to make friends and to invest in a church community. But it’s hard when sometimes it only feels like 64% home.