It’s been a long silence, I realise that. There are good reasons to be had for it. And I do intend to finish the series I began in July on gender roles, for which I’ve planned two more posts and written about half of one of them. In the meantime, though, a look into the summer I was away.
The summer after graduation was a weird one. In typical fashion, I didn’t actually stop taking classes—in May, I still had the idea in my head that in a couple of years, I’d be jumping into an International Relations master’s program (preferably Georgetown’s Master of Science in Foreign Service) for which the basic economics courses are prerequisites, and decided to make use of the time in which I was already going to be hanging around campus all day while Luke was at work by getting those out of the way. Since I haven’t taken any math other than statistics for a while, they were tougher than I was expecting, but not impossible. That filled only about 15% of my long day, though. So, to fill the rest of it, I took on undertakings like helping one of my professors research and edit his most recent book and spending a lot of time at the gym. The days were almost unimaginably slow while I was in them, and yet the summer passed so quickly I barely registered it happening.
Now, stop reading a moment, and picture again the feeling you had when you read that last paragraph. Then, stretch it out over about nine hours, and that’s approximately what my summer felt like between 7:30 and 4:30 every day. After that, it was as though both Luke and I turned off. My memory isn’t weak by any means, but in the evenings, I was someone else; as though I’d checked out early or something, everything was different after we got home. We never talked about it until we got to Wilson, and I still don’t know exactly what it was. What I do know is both Luke and I felt a sort of absence in the evenings that weighed over us and came very close to breaking me.
I never wrote on here about what the wedding was like. There are many reasons for that, the one I most frequently cite when people ask being that there was so much stress packed into that weekend (I graduated from college the day before and moved out of my old apartment the day before that) that there are actually substantial parts of it I don’t remember. But while that’s true, it doesn’t fully capture all there was to it. Your wedding day is supposed to be this glorious, lighthearted occasion, and I think I can finally admit that the reason I never wrote about it is because whatever joviality came through in a story would have been manufactured, and I can’t bring myself to lie like that. So, instead, silence.
I still don’t really like talking about it, and by the time this posts, I’ll have taken my wedding photos off the site. As I’ve been learning all summer, a marriage is defined by much more than a wedding, and in fact if I could do it again we’d probably elope or something. I’ve realised I’m harbouring a lot of bitterness about the way it happened, and especially of the time that followed; my whole series about women and work was a product of my wrestling with what I’ve believed for a long time to be my calling, contrasting that against my circumstances and trying to make sense of it all.
The summer was tumultuous mainly in my head. On top of the settling storm following the wedding itself, a domino chain of family drama was set off toward the end of June that had me reeling with anger for months. If I’m being honest, I don’t think it’s quite settled yet, and as much as I hate leaving Waco I’m also grateful for the distance that the move is putting between me/us and that whole mess. To be clear, it didn’t involve us directly, and both Luke and I are fine, but there’s a lot of life crap still to sort through and we have a relationship to work on and a life to build in a new place on top of everything else. To say I was a bit frazzled when we left Waco would be the understatement of the year.
Both Luke and I have been asked several times why we’re here, so I’ll get into that. First, the back story: in February, through an act of divine providence in a time of great need, Luke began an internship with Aramark on the new football stadium at Baylor. What he was doing was called blueprint commissioning, which essentially involves checking to make sure the client (Baylor) is getting what they paid for in terms of the stadium’s construction: making sure things are built according to plan, that shortcuts aren’t taken, etc. It’s one of those jobs that only exists because humanity is a sinful race. But of course, he excelled at everything he did there. And eventually, as the summer drew to a close, a tough spiritual journey on my end lead me to the conclusion that I had to stop my own job search and let Luke take the lead.
My own job search was totally fruitless. Still, giving it up was a massive blow to both my pride and my identity. It left me spinning and numb for a long time, and for a while it left Luke in a tough spot as the pressure of finding something fell entirely on him. He was in a much better position than I was in that respect, though, and his connection with Aramark, which was God-given in the first place, actually came to bear still more fruit in the end: when he spoke with HR in Waco about possibly staying on with Aramark full-time, they helped him plug in to a few promising opportunities he and I had pulled out of the pack, and his first choice, also his first try, lead us to Wilson.
I, by that point, had come to understand that until we knew where we would end up, I couldn’t really continue my search. Waiting on God is never easy, especially for a long time and under a lot of unabating pressure, and naturally now that we’re here I’m more confused than ever about what my role is going to be. It’s difficult not to feel purposeless when you don’t have a means of getting around or even a glimmer of hope about opportunities in the area. It’s also difficult when you don’t have friends or a church home to fall back on. And while I know this state is temporary, I also don’t want to hear that it will get better, because this is where I am right now, and it’s so tremendously important to understand that God speaks to us right where we are, where it’s difficult, and not just down the road to an imaginary, sunny future.
The week before we left Waco, Luke and I almost literally spent every meal we ate with one or another set of friends or family. For me, it started the Thursday before the Martin wedding, when I went to Dallas to see Erika and was with her when I found out Luke got the job. I don’t think we bought any food for a week. The outpouring of love was very powerful. And despite our circumstances, despite the fact things were rough in the family, and despite the fact we were leaving the strongest and most incredible church family we’ve ever had 1,200 miles away, I knew that everything else aside, love was stronger, and it always endures.
I’ve never found it all that difficult to leave a place. Kate called it my gypsy spirit, and that’s an accurate way of putting it. Goodbyes don’t get me until after the fact. This time, though, it was hard. It took us a few days of sitting around and having misadventures with a realtor (that is a story that deserves an addendum) before we found somewhere to live, and in the idle time both the weight of leaving and the kind of nervously excited unknown both hung heavily over us wherever we went. I like the actual, literal place of Wilson better than Waco (mainly because of the climate and proximity to things to do), though the tobacco growing everywhere will take some getting used to. And I know, as was oft repeated in Spain, that it’s not ‘goodbye,’ but ‘see you later,’ but it will still be a while before this place feels like anything close to home.
Another post with a few stories and photos about the move will follow in a couple of days before I pick up where I left off with Women and Work. In the meantime, I’ll be around—I decided to get Facebook again after my very loud and public departure to keep a window open back home.