Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Do I Turn North or South?

One of the hardest aspects of moving is figuring out the back roads and short cuts to all the places I need to go. When I lived in Atlanta I knew about 15 different ways to get everywhere. That was out of necessity; traffic was so horrible. The radio stations ran traffic reports all day long, and I would listen before we got in the car to figure out which route I’d need to take. I even had three different ways to get to our church, which was only 3.5 miles from our house.

Lansing is another story. Traffic isn’t a problem and the highways take me everywhere I’ve needed to go. I’ve had no need to find alternate routes. But on Wednesday I found myself at our church in south Lansing, needing to go to a bookstore in East Lansing. Yes, I could have taken the highway to the exit I knew would take me to the store but that was out of the way. I’d been with Sean when he’d woven his way on the back roads from church over to that part of town; surely I could figure it out.

I had all three kids with me and we saw this as a challenge. We found our way to the MSU horse pasture, then the crop testing fields. Then I hit a dead end. Ugh. I had a vague idea of where to go so I just turned left and hoped it was the right way. Woo-hoo, it turned out to be.

Long story short, I found the store, bought a present for my niece and got back home. The kids and I celebrated with a rousing chorus of, “We did it, we did it, we did it, yeah!” from Dora the Explorer. I felt like Christy the Explorer, the fabulous traveler able to find stores in strange cities like Okemos, Laingsburg and Wacousta.

I couldn’t wait to tell Sean of my great accomplishment. (As I wrote that I could just hear someone saying, “Dang, she needs to get a life.”) When he walked in the door, I exclaimed, “Guess what I did today!” And as soon as I started to tell him I burst into tears. I was overcome with the realization that I’d been here long enough to figure out the back roads.

Amy Grant wrote a song called, “Missing You,” for her nephew when he went away for college. Here’s the chorus:

Missing you is just a part of living
Missing you feels like a way of life
I'm living out the life that I've been given
But baby I still wish you were mine

I hear that now and completely understand the feeling. Missing Atlanta, and all it holds for me, does feel like a part of my everyday existence. I cannot believe I’m still brought to tears 16 months after the move.

But … I did find my way to that store, and I found my way from church to the west side of town today. And slowly, so slowly, Michigan is becoming home. It will never be my real home; that spot will always be reserved for Atlanta. But I am beginning to feel at home here. And I’m beginning to be more comfortable amid the corn fields and and farms and factories.

At least until the snow falls.