Eat, Pray, Love is one of my all-time favorite chick flicks and from the very first time I saw it, I wanted to make like Julia Roberts and get on a plane to anywhere and everywhere, like right then and there! Yes! In the middle of the movie even! No joke!! Okay, yes, I did finish watching it, but I must tell you that Eat, Pray, Love struck so many chords inside me in terms of the things that were taking place within my own life when it opened in 2010 that I credit it for opening my eyes to the idea that where I was during that time wasn’t exactly where I needed to be. In fact, I love the movie so much that every single time I come across it on cable TV, I stop everything I’m doing right then and there and finish it…kinda like stop-drop-and-roll, but maybe not quite that dramatic. I also have the book because Elizabeth Gilbert is my all-time-bomb-diggity-heroine! Having said all that, when I re-read the quote above, I can feel a bit of a pint-sized smile spreading across my lips because in so many ways, I’ve done most of those things already in my short (ahem) 29 years of life.
“If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting” – Hmmm. Brave. My friends keep telling me that I’m brave, but really, when I left all those familiar things behind, and when I relocated to the coast this past December, I did it frickin’ scared. #Justdoitscared became my motto. For real.
“And set out on a truth-seeking journey” – been there, done that, have the t-shirt too.
“If you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue…” ok, let’s stop right there, because I’m a work in progress and Jesus is still working on me; however, I’m learning more and more about journeys of all kinds every single day.
“If you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher” –ok, there’s a little déjà vu happening here, because I’ve got the t-shirt for that one too, and maybe even the koozie! I’ve had many teachers thus far, and they’ve all played a huge part in who I’m becoming as a woman. And while I often feel like I’ve had all the character-building I can possibly take, I am grateful for the lessons that I’ve been taught because they’ve made me grow immensely as a person.
“And if you are prepared, most of all, to forgive some very difficult realities about yourself…” –this one is a biggie, boys and girls, because if anyone has had a mirror held up to their face more times than she can count, it’s this Princess right here. I’ve had to face a lot of very unpleasant things about myself along the way, and while I’m often able to easily extend forgiveness to others, I have a rather difficult time extending it to myself because let’s be honest: looking at our flaws, really, truly looking at them, can be an excruciatingly painful process. I’m proud of the personal growth that I’ve attained in this area, because forgiving myself is just on the edge of becoming the norm for me, even if I do still have to work extremely hard at it.
“Then the truth will not be withheld from you” –listen, I’m gonna chalk this one up to a waiting game, because in the present moment, there are many truths which haven’t yet been communicated to me, and I’m holding onto every ounce of hope I have that all that is hidden will soon be revealed (thanks, Cassie).
My journey initially began internally back in 2010, but recently transformed into an external journey when I moved to the coast this past December. I left the all comforts of home behind: my big cozy bed (Hi, my name is Kristi, and I am a full-blown mattress snob! #foammattressesrock); my studies (hey, I needed a semester off after two jam-packed semesters and 4 classes during the last summer session); the familiarity of the eclectic food that I so crave (Dear Cootie Brown’s, I miss you! And thank you Kyra for bringing Ridgewood BBQ to the beach when you visited); but most of all, I left my posse (have I mentioned lately how much I love my friends? Big. Way big. WAY!). Some days, I’m so homesick for them that I almost can’t bear it, and on other days, I want all of them to relocate to North Carolina so that I won’t ever have to lay eyes on the state of Tennessee again. They are my biggest hand-holders, my most trusted confidants, and a huge part of my world. I’m a lucky, lucky girl when it comes to my inner circle. ‘Nuf said.
Transitions are hard, even ones that may not be permanent. I’m fortunate enough to have understanding friends who listen to me when I whine and bemoan how much I miss them. They encourage me to just let myself ‘be’ so that I can settle into my new digs and they happily come visit when they realize I need some real-live-human companionship. Truthfully, if I could just move all of them here to the coast with me, I wouldn’t ever know the feeling of being homesick again! While I’ve been living here, I’ve come to regard ‘home’ as many different things (see my previous blog here), especially when loneliness sets in, but I’ve had a lot of encouragement along the way too. Take my friend Jerry, for instance. He saw a Facebook post early on where I mentioned that I was homesick, so he lovingly reminded me that it’s okay to have a home in two places, and suggested that I consider that. And while he humored me by choosing to attend my pity party that afternoon, he also extended a lot of wisdom to me when he sent me this text:
“You can’t be homesick if you are at home there…just saying”—hmmm. Now how ‘bout them apples?! I’ve pondered that ever since he said it. If I’m really, truly at home here, how in the world can I possibly be homesick?! And the only thing I could come up with is that home isn’t necessarily a place…it’s a memory, or a person, or the smell of biscuits and gravy being lovingly prepared in a cast iron skillet by my Granny in her tiny little kitchen. For me, it’s those things that make me feel at home; not the structure, not the ocean, not the strangers that surround me. It’s all those other things that give me that warm, homey, comforting fuzzy feeling of home.
For now, this is home. I love living by the sea and I’m very comfortable here in this big, gorgeous house that the dog and I relish staying in. I dare say that if the owners ever offered it to me full time, I would send my favorite moving company to the condo in a nanosecond so they could pack up every last one of my belongings, but in the meantime, I’ve put out some feelers for permanent housing just in case I decide to stay. And when I think about this amazing adventure that I’ve been so fortunate to partake in, I realize that it was meant for me to make this move, no doubt about it. It is meant for me to experience this feeling of isolation so that I can get used to my own company for probably the first time in my entire life. It is meant for me to experience the vulnerability associated with having to put myself out there to meet new people in the community. All these insecurities that I’m wading through are nothing less than tremendous opportunities for growth, and instead of fighting it, I’m intentionally choosing to embrace it instead. Journeys are learning curves and sometimes, it’s the journey itself that teaches us the most about who we are as human beings. Besides, like Jerry said, I am home.