moving

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #45: Welcome to Our Crib

After what feels like years of unpacking (but was really only a week) the new place is pretty much set up. Not surprisingly, unpacking all the boxes from the moving companies and decorating has taken up most of my free time this week and kept me from doing anything social whatsoever. My social skills are rapidly deteriorating.

I love the cozy charm of the new place, though it took a while for me to catch the vision for it since the layout is so different from our condo. The new place is a cute little house that’s been converted into a duplex. I’d love to show you a picture form the outside, but decided against it for safety reasons. But you can see the inside!

Here’s what it looks like when you walk in the front door. (Sorry these pictures aren’t the greatest, but I was too lazy to pull out the real camera).

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To your right as you walk in.

The living room is to your right as you walk in.

As you can see, we didn’t do any painting to the new place, partly because we were sick and tired of painting and partly because our new landlords don’t really want us to. I miss our fun accent walls and think a new coat of paint could do wonders for the bedroom, but having more windows in the living area means more light and more fun curtains which helps to keep things bright and colorful.

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The kitchen has plenty of floor space, but not a ton of cabinet space. There’s also no dishwasher (:() and no pantry so we converted our game/dvd storage shelves into a pantry.

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The spiral staircase is a cool feature, though not especially practical since you have to actually take the staircase apart and remove it in order to get furniture up into the loft. I still don’t know how we got this sectional up there.

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The cats think the stairs are a giant cat tree. They’re not wrong…

Fun fact: my parents’ house (the house I grew up in) also has a spiral staircase. In high school I had the upstairs bedroom and it felt like I lived in the tower room of a castle (In my imagination anyway). This has had the dual effect of endearing me to spiral staircases everywhere and at the same time being less impressed with them than most people are.

The upstairs loft area was a little tricky to figure out. It’s a large amount of floor space, but because of the oddly angled ceiling, not all of it is easy to use. We decided to make two separate areas with an office space and a reading/sitting area.

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The bedroom is the one room I’m still unhappy with and this is mainly because it needs to be painted and the curtain situation is abysmal. Most of the windows in the house came with those cheap plastic curtain rods already installed. Of course these don’t look as nice as real rods, but I could have gotten over that if only the rods were installed in the right place. Instead of installing the rods a little above the window frame and wider than the window itself, the rods are attached right to the frame resulting in windows that look tiny and cramped with ugly white poles showing through. It’s not so bad in the living room and even the dining area, but I really don’t like it in the bedroom. Eventually we may be able to fix this with new, properly placed rods and better curtains, but we don’t have the budget for it right now. I know this probably bothers me more than anyone else and it’s certainly not important in the grand scheme of things, but there you have it.

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Hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into our home and lives and stick around for more adventures to come! Also, I really am working on getting some more posts up this month that are more of my usual style. Moving twice, looking for work, writing freelance article,s and re-acclimating to America have taken a lot of my time and energy over the past few months, but there are so many things I want to share with you and I’m looking forward to getting back to writing here.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about the big move  and our first time using a moving company, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

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Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #44: Moving. Again.

In case you’re behind on the Dunn family drama, on Sunday we had to move out of our lovely condo after living there a grand total of 10 weeks because our landlords sold it out from under us. Boo. The good news is that we found a new place very nearby to the old one. It’s a duplex so it’s in a neighborhood rather than a big complex. There’s a little yard (although it’s mostly a dirt patch) and the house has wood floors and a (non-functional) fireplace and a loft with a spiral staircase.

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We were able to negotiate with our old landlords to have our moving costs covered since we were doing them the courtesy of allowing them to break our one-year-lease in the first place. This was the first time we had a moving company do the moving for us instead of doing everything ourselves. It pretty much rocked.

We still had to pack up all of our loose things into boxes and suitcases and we transferred our delicate things (wall hangings and small lamps) ourselves to make sure they weren’t damaged. My new friend Kelly came over on Friday to help me pack up the kitchen and Jonathan and I finished packing up the contents of our closets and our many, many books by Saturday night. The movers arrived at 8:45 on Sunday and have everything completely moved to the new place by 12:30. We spent the rest of the day cleaning the old place and driving unloading our cars which were crammed full of our breakable things.

I was still grumpy about moving.

I was still grumpy about moving.

The worst part of the move was that it was raining steadily all day long and the dirt patch front yard quickly became a mud patch which meant the floors of the house were quickly covered in mud as people tromped in and out. We are still trying to get the floor clean, but for now, I’ll just be leaving my slippers on all the time.

While the new place has a lot of charm, there are some downsides. It’s smaller than the old place and the kitchen has a lot less storage space, including no pantry, so we’re still trying to figure out how to fit all of the kitchen stuff plus food. The cabinets are also all very high which means I can just barely reach things on the second shelf and can’t reach the third shelf at all. It might be time to invest in a step-stool! There’s no dishwasher in this place, and while we didn’t have a dishwasher for the two years we were in Korea, it makes life a lot easier.

Other small annoyances include not being able to paint this place like we did the old one and the fact that the windows came with curtain rods already installed (good!) but they are the flimsy white plastic ones and they are installed right on the window frame. The first rule of hanging curtain rods is to hang them higher and wider than the windows themselves because this creates more visual space. Having the rods right on the windows like that makes the windows look small and cramped. Also, the white rod poking through the curtains with rings at the top. I know those are dumb complaints, I just put so much effort into making the last place feel beautiful that I’m feeling less cheerful about compromising. But it is a unique, cozy place and I know I’ll grow to love it.

Not quite to the cute and cozy stage yet.

Not quite to the cute and cozy stage yet.

Probably the funniest part of the whole move has been watching our cats react to the spiral staircase. Ruthie took one look at it and sprinted to the top, then jumped up on the ledge at the top. It’s about 6 inches wide and if she fell off of it she’d drop at least 6 feet before hitting one of the stairs below. It’s horrifying, but she’s a daredevil. If I tried to block it off somehow she’d just figure out a more dangerous way to get up there. She runs up and down those stairs like she’s training for the Olympics.

Bart, on the other hand, didn’t even notice the stairs for a full day. When he finally looked up, apparently for the first time in seven hours, he made this face, which is an exact cat version of the face Troy from Community when he meets LeVar Burton. (It’s even funnier in real life.)

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The few times Bart has attempted the stairs he makes loud, whiny noises each time he takes a step with long pauses in between each one. He usually gives up after 3 or 4.

I’ll give you guys the full photo tour once we have it all set up, but it might take a little while since we’re fitting unpacking in around Jonathan’s school and my work schedule. Today I am practicing gratitude by being thankful for a new place to live that really is quite cute in spite of its flaws and for the fact that Jonathan and I are here together and as long as that’s true it doesn’t really matter where we are.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about my trip to New York you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

What I’m Into: August 2015 Edition

I think this month may be a record for cramming the most experiences into just 31 days. I can’t even wrap my mind around the fact that I was still living and working in South Korea at the beginning of the month. If I had to sum it up I’d say what I’ve been into this month is change. Also reverse culture shock. It’s a real thing. Linking up with Leigh Kramer for this slightly belated post.

What I’m Reading:

I haven’t read anything (other than a few pages here and there) since arriving in the US August 14th. I’ve been too busy for leisure reading and too tired at the end of the day for more than a few sentences before I fall asleep. However, I just got my Richland County Library card today so game on!

MIS85-2At the beginning of August I read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield which was recommended to me by a friend. I had such mixed feelings about this book. Butterfield recounts her radical conversion from an atheist lesbian feminist activist who was a tenured professor in Gay and Lesbian Studies at the University of Syracuse. To me, the most interesting part of this portion of the book was the beginning where she writes about the ways she came to find Christianity compelling over a long period of time and the Christians who were in her life who were loving and gracious towards her rather than pushy and judgmental. In later chapters, however, Butterfield strays from her personal experiences and more or less makes arguments for some of her (incredibly conservative) views such as complementarianism, Psalm-only worship, and homeschooling, none of which are views I share.

51gCHV1OdGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Next I read Emily P. Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl, which I’d been wanting to read for a long time. As another self-professed “good girl” who lived most of my life in fear of rocking the boat, striving for perfection and placing my identity in my own goodness, this book resonated with me. I expected this book to be more conversational or memoir-esque than it was and I wish I’d heard more personal input from the author, but hey, that means the market is still open for a book like that. ; )

DSB_final_6_1I read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy of the same name. I’m now a little more than halfway through the second book in the trilogy with hopes of finishing soon now that life is settling down a bit. I’d heard great reviews of these books, but I admit that it took me a while to get into. As in, I was at least halfway through the first book before I was like, “Dear goodness, I am so glad I stuck with this because now I can’t put it down!”

I’m planning to finish the second book in the trilogy (Days of Blood & Starlight) and then finally read The Little Prince which I now own a copy of thanks to my incredibly kind and generous reader, Duncan, who sent it to me all the way from Australia. (Seriously humbled by how kind and thoughtful many of you are).

What I’m Watching:

Before leaving Korea we saw Mission Impossible 5 in theaters. Always fun. On the plane I watched The Age of Adaline. It had a very Benjamin Button vibe. I could dig it. Also I’m also really into Michiel Huisman who plays the love interest (my experience with him mostly being based on his role in Nashville). 

I’ve continued my guilty pleasure Gossip Girl re-watch kick lately. It’s a ridiculous show, but Chuck and Blaire, man. Chuck and Blaire. I blame my cat, Bart, who loves watching GG with me, especially on the nights that Jonathan’s in class. We’ve also continued to watch Frasier together (Jonathan and I, not Bart and I).

Bart is all about his Gossip Girl fix

Bart is all about his Gossip Girl fix.

What I’m Listening To:

The radio! Who knew the radio could be so fun?! I’ve probably got about one week left before I’ve reached the saturation point since they do play the same songs over and over, but for now I’m still jamming to Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, and Walk the Moon. And I feel that Ed Sheeran and I are in a committed relationship. Also George Ezra. I love “Budapest.” It gives me all the feels.

What I’m Eating:

All the western foods, naturally. I also felt compelled to try out the limited edition Lays chip flavors that are out right now for the Do Us a Flavor competition where America votes on the next permanent flavor (which is funny cause I’m not a big chip eater normally). The four options are West Coast Truffle Fries, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, Greektown Gyros, and New York Reuben. I’ve tried the first three so far and the Truffle Fries are hands-down the winner.

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Otherwise, we are eating turkey everything. There is no turkey in Korea so we’ve been having turkey sandwiches, turkey burgers, and turkey bacon to our hearts’ content. Ooh, and cheese. And Greek yogurt.

I’ve gained like 4 pounds. Worth it.

On the Internets:

Mmmm, I haven’t really done much internet viewing/reading this month. But you can always count on Jamie the Very Worst Missionary for something good. This post is called “Actually, I Can Judge You.”

This post from Addie Zierman on “All the Crooked, Half-Healed Places.”

This funny post from The Toast on “The Comment Section on Every Article Ever Written About Breastfeeding”

And this guest post from Eleanor Rooke on unexpected sacred spaces and everyday monotony.

On the Blog:

Not so much, really. I did have a satirical piece published over at Arise (Christians for Biblical Equality) called “Acting Like a Lady.” Otherwise I kept up with my 52 Weeks of adventure with a few final Korean adventures (here and here and here) and a my first American adventure (here). I did a Book Chat on what’s on my Amazon wish list and made two lists – Top 10 Things I’ll Miss About Korea followed by Top 10 Things I Won’t Miss About Korea.

I’m (hopefully) back to more regular blogging now and hope to use this space to process our ongoing transition, reverse culture shock, impressions of America after two years away, and what it looks like to build a new community.

What I’ve Been Up To:

Moving, obviously. : ) Spending time with family, seeing some friends who live in the Carolinas, traveling to Wisconsin for an epic roommate reunion, painting and decorating our new place only to have the landlord call us one week into our lease and say that they got an offer from someone who wants to buy our condo and they want us to move out. (Yes, I’m serious. More on that later).

Beautiful living room with a long-anticipated gallery wall we now have to move out of.

Beautiful living room with a long-anticipated gallery wall we now have to move out of.

Interviewing. Trying to find a job/jobs. Having one job I was counting on fall through. Meeting the other people in Jonathan’s MFA program. (He’s finishing his second full week of classes today). Exploring our new city and trying a few restaurants. Going back and forth to the DMV four times in one morning to get all the documents necessary to get a South Carolina driver’s license and register our cars. Getting our cats back from their long-term cat sitter. (Bart has gotten fat. Ruthie looks the same. Their personalities are largely unchanged).

Getting another Korea-related fungal ear infection and spending my first week in Columbia finding an ENT and being treated with purple dye in my ear which stained everything it touched a brilliant violet. Joining a women’s Bible study with about 20 women of various ages who are all mothers except for me. Which has launched me back into my semi-annual soul-searching on the question – Kids, for or against? (Ultimately irrelevant right now since we have no income).

I’m exhausted.  And excited. And anxious. And overwhelmed. And happy. And looking forward to a September that is hopefully less eventful.

How was the end of your summer?

52 Weeks of Adventure #34: (Not-So) Extreme Home Makeover

Well, we did it. We packed up a moving truck, drove it to South Carolina, and put all of our things in a quiet little condo that we now call home. We arrived in Columbia with all of our stuff last Monday and worked like crazy (along with both sets of parents who were generous and kind and came to see us/haul boxes and paint things when we arrived) and one week later, we are officially moved in.

It was fun to unpack our things and re-discover everything we own. It was also fun (for me, at least) to have a chance to decorate and make the condo feel like our space. In Korea, we lived a temporary life. All of our furniture had either been provided by our schools or was purchased used from other foreigners with little regard for the aesthetic value. When we first moved to Korea, our living room wall was wallpapered with a print of cats sitting in windowsills. Needless to say, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for creative self expression.

My first priority in the condo was to do some painting. I think paint is the easiest (and cheapest) way to spruce up a room or create a new look. In our last apartment in the US way back before Korea, we had some bright accent walls that made our generic apartment more fun. We wanted to try something new in the new space and ultimately chose a cool-toned theme throughout with lots of blues, grays, and greens. We’re both pretty pleased with the results.

Living Room - Before

Living Room – Before

Living room/kitchen pass through before

Living room/kitchen pass through before

Living Room After

Living Room After

Front entryway

Front entryway

We painted an accent wall in the living room a bright mid-toned blue and created a wall gallery for our scratch-off “Where have you been?” map and some travel photos.

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The furniture and rug were all things we already owned, but I did add in a few blue throw pillows to tie the color together.

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The office/room where guests will sleep on the floor is mainly about the bookshelves. I picked a dark gray for the walls, but kept up the blue and green theme with the rug and the curtains.

Office before.

Office before.

Office after!

Office after!

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In our last US apartment we only painted one accent wall in the master bedroom and it was a bright red. I decide that this time around I’d like to try a full room color, but since a lot of our bedding is green, I felt limited on color options. I eventually settled on a pale sage green.

Master bedroom before

Master bedroom before

Master bedroom after

Master bedroom after

The master bedroom is a really large space and after moving in our bed, end tables, and dresser, there was still a lot of empty space. We thought a chair would be nice to make a little reading nook, but we’d already picked up a few new things for other rooms and didn’t want the expensive of a new piece of furniture. I asked my friend Lorien for advice on a place to look for a cheap chair and she sent me a picture of this one saying she was selling it. Blanket over the top and a couple of throw pillows and it looks like it was made for that corner.

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We are really happy with our space and can’t wait to have some of our North and South Carolina friends over to visit. It was a TON of work to get all of this done in a week, but it feels so good to have everything settled and be able to breathe just a teensy bit. Now on to the next adventure – finding a way to pay the bills!

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about saying goodbye to one home and hello to another, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

52 Weeks of Adventure #33: So Long, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Unbelievably, it came. It came the way Christmas came despite the Grinch’s best efforts at keeping it away. It came like the downward plunge part of the roller coaster, where the build-up seems to last forever as tick-tick-tick your way to the top and then suddenly you are plunging downhill and the whole thing is over in a matter of seconds.

So long

Friday was both our final day in Korea and (because of the time difference) our first day in America. We somehow made it through our long trip back to America with our 4 suitcases full of everything we’ve collected over these years. But before we left, we said good-bye to some of our favorite places and some of our favorite people.

We went to Busan, our favorite Korean city, and said good-bye to the water, and the skyline, and the beach, covered in fully-clothed Koreans hiding under umbrellas.

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We ate our last bingsu and our last bulgogi and mandu and (mercifully) our last kimchi.

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We went to the noraebang (like a private karaoke room) for the last time and I bellowed out a painful rendition of Colors of the Wind while my friend Josh performed an interpretive dance.

We sold, donated, or threw out all of our things. And we said goodbye to the friends we’ve made who will now be scattered all over the wide world, to Canada and India and South Africa, and good old Kansas, USA.

We said good-bye to our steaming hot apartment, our twin-sized bed, and our wallpaper with silvery butterflies.

We said goodbye to the cutest children and the pushiest elderly people in the world.

We said good-bye to city living, to daily cultural misunderstandings, to the background noise of screeching buses and old people spitting in the street and unintelligible Korean chatter.

We said goodbye to our home.

And then.

We said Hello.

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My amazing family!!!!

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With my grandparents at their regular breakfast joint.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about my final days of teaching and my English summer camp, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

When Waiting Feels Like Free-Falling or How Trust is my Nemesis

I loathe dislike waiting with a fiery passion.

I know, I know. Does anyone really like waiting? But I REALLLLLLY don’t like it.

I’ve been living in a state of constant frustration lately. As we prepare for our international move, I am beyond ready to have things settled. I want to have a job set up and waiting for me when I arrive. I want to find an apartment or rental house for us to live in. I want to get rid of as much uncertainty as possible. Yet every time I try to take a step forward, people tell me I can’t. That I have to wait. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs and received the response, “Why don’t you get in touch with us once you’ve arrived.” Hubby and I have spent hours looking for a place to live only to be told, “It’s really too early for you to be looking at rentals.”

I can barely keep myself from shouting, “But we are leaving in 65 days! It does not feel too early! I need to know NOW!” 

This whole situation has brought out an embarrassingly juvenile side of myself.  I feel angry all the time. A few days ago I burnt dinner. Before my husband could even say anything, I glared at him and said, “If you want a new one you have to make it yourself. I’m not making another one.” And he did. (That guy is a saint, I tell you).

It’s like I’ve taken all of my frustrations about the things I can’t do and tried to balance them out by making certain that I let everyone know what I will and will not do in any situation where I have the choice.

See, I like to pretend that I’m an adventurous person. And from the outside, I can see how I might look like one. After all, I live in a foreign country, I love to travel and to try new things, I’m preparing for my fourth move in five years – and three of those moves have been to places I’d never been before. Oh, and let’s not forget my illegal tattoo!

It’s easy to look like a laid-back, carefree adventurer in pictures. Don’t be fooled. It’s an illusion. I am all about the adventure, but it’s highly controlled adventure. I love being spontaneous, but it’s planned spontaneity. (Yes, there is such a thing).

I am that rare personality that combines constant yearning for adventure and excitement with an equally strong sense of responsibility. Add in an unhealthy dose of chronic anxiety, and you’ll see why I live in a state of constant inner-conflict. Basically, I’m a rebel trapped in a good girl’s body. Or maybe it’s the other way around…

Usually the way that I balance these parts of my personality is by planning as much as possible and preparing for all contingencies. (“Always be prepared!” as my Eagle Scout father instilled in me). I try to think things all the way through and prepare myself for the worst possible scenario. Once I feel prepared for whatever I might encounter, I can take the plunge and do something crazy because I know there’s a safety net in place. I know what I’ll do if things don’t go as planned.

We moved to Korea having never set foot in Asia. But we did a TON of research first. We secured jobs through the government so that we were sure there would be accountability for things like getting paid the proper amount on time. We chose to go through a program that would provide an orientation rather than one that left us to our own devices. And we talked to lots of people who had worked in Korea before. We arrived with an entire suitcase full of things we’d been told were difficult to find (deodorant, taco mix, and tampons) and we had decided from the very beginning to play things by ear. We signed a year-long contract that we would try hard to fulfill, but we’d told ourselves that if it was absolutely horrible, we could decide to go home. Safety net!

I’ve shared that I’ve been struggling with anxiety at a new level over the past few months as I’ve been faced with all the unknowns of our future, so I’ve tried to deal with this anxiety the best way I know how – by being responsible and making myself feel as secure and on top of things as I can. So it’s been not only frustrating, but frightening for me to be told over and over again that there’s nothing more I can do. That I just have to wait.

I am realizing that this is a big fat TRUST issue. (Ah, Trust, my nemesis. We meet again!) I am unable to accept that things might still be OK even if I can’t check all the things off of my list in the time frame that I want to. I am unable to rest in the knowledge that I’ve done everything I can do. I am unable to accept the logic that things will work out the way they are meant to work out, regardless of how much I worry about them now. I am unable to accept that when God leads us somewhere, he doesn’t leave us to figure everything out by ourselves.

I have a big fat trust issue and I’m being forced to trust anyway. It’s like God has taken away the lifelines of planning and responsibility and asked me to believe the safety net is there, even though I didn’t install it myself. It would be funny if it wasn’t so horrible.

Right now I feel like I’m in a slow-motion free fall. And I have two options – I can fall kicking and screaming and lashing out at everyone around me for all the things I can’t change, or I can relax and enjoy the view while it lasts.

HEADER IMAGE CREDIT: JUN GIL PARK ON FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Life in the In-Between

I’m living an in-between life.

The days grow longer and hotter, the mercury already rising near 90 some afternoons, and I remember what it is to live coated with a constant sheen of sweat. But even as I dread the oppressive heat and the thick cloak of humidity beginning to descend, I remember that the cool kiss of the air in the mornings and the smell of the jasmine in the park and the dozens little voices screaming, “Hello, Lily Teacher!” from across the school yard will only be memories sooner than I know.

I measure my days in lasts – last cherry blossom season, last hikes, last baseball games, last weekend trips, last nights hopping in cabs and speeding home through the city with its crazy drivers and its flashing neon signs. Last few months of stability before this life disappears and I’m trying to find my place all over again.

Soon we’ll have our last home church meeting as the family who hosts us returns to the US for the summer. And then we will have last meals with our friends as one-by-one we leave this place and return to our Before lives. But we are not our Before selves.

For months I’ve dreamed of home – of a place where no one stares at me while I try to run errands or pushes me out of the way on the bus. I’ve dreamed of my mother who hugs fiercely and breathes deeply every time she sees me, so she can remember the smell of me when I’m gone again. Of a grocery store full of foods whose names I know, where cheese doesn’t go on cookies and where a watermelon never costs $16. And I’ve dreamed of my friends, the ones whose lives I’ve missed little by little as we’ve each taken two years of steps in different directions. But the closer I get to home, the more I understand that this home doesn’t exist anymore. At least not in the way I remember it.

I see it most clearly when I talk to my friends in America. Sometimes it feels like I’m playing the role of Before self in our conversations, unsure if this New self still fits. And as each day brings us closer to our return I find myself clinging to this life we’ve built – to all the strange and difficult things that have become oddly familiar, and to the adventure of it all, something I’ve nearly forgotten in my months of homesickness.

“What if this is it?” I wail to my husband. “What if this is all the adventure we are ever going to get and I spent so many months ready to move on?”

He says adventure is only over when we choose to see it that way. He says adventure is a gift that comes in different shapes and sizes – we only miss it if we reject the gift entirely.

I try to pray about all of this. About being torn between home and this strange place that has crept its way into my heart and about the fear of no longer belonging. I try to pray and I find myself reading Mary Oliver instead. She writes at the end of “The Summer’s Day”.

“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

And the words come to me like a grace.

You are already living your one wild and precious life, Love. Pay attention. Today may be all the adventures you will ever live. What are you going to do with it?

And I catch my breath. Because in the midst of all of it – the fear, the uncertainty, the longing for things that don’t exist anymore, the warring desires to stand still and to run forward–isn’t this still the question that matters?

We are all living in the in-between, caught somewhere between who we’ve been and who we are becoming. But we are all also living in the very center of our one dazzling life. Pay attention. What is it you plan to do with that today?