Last week, I stayed in a home I used to live in, sleeping in the same room that was my personal sanctuary for four years.
It’s weird how a space can feel exactly the same but so different at the same time. So much of the room still has my fingerprints, even now that it’s bereft of all my possessions. There’s the imprint of the dowel rod I used in place of the fourth leg of my antique bed. There’s the chipped paint on the sloped ceiling above my bed that a close friend had accidentally flicked off while deep in conversation. There’s the small splotch of black on the carpet from where my dad tried to fuse my broken bed frame together with rubber cement.
And yet, it isn’t home any more. The closet is empty of the hangers that were too wide for it any way. Without the soft light of the lamps I used to journal by, all that’s left is the harsh single bulb in the colonial-style sconce mounted by the door. There’s a new girl living in the space where I used to write and do yoga. I slept on a sad air mattress that more closely resembled a life raft than a bed.
In so many ways, my new life has fit almost seamlessly. I’ve stepped into Charlotte living with nary a tear or a lonely weekend in sight. And yet, my old life still fits, too. In so many ways, that old life still feels far more familiar and comfortable than the new place I’m planting my proverbial flag in.
I’m not sure I properly grieved Lancaster and all that season meant to me. I was so ready for the next thing that I didn’t pause to mourn what I was saying goodbye to. I’ve joked to friends about turning into a pillar of salt if I looked back. But maybe I wasn’t joking.
I think I’ve been afraid to confront the grief that comes with transition, even good ones.
In that little attic room, so much life happened. I learned so much about adult life and faith and friendship and work. I wrote my first book proposal in that space. I confronted grief head on there. I recovered from surgery there. I set off for adventures in Africa, Asia, and South America from that room. I had long, knock-down, drag-out fights with the Lord in that room. I read good books and spent hours journaling there. I hung 30 sticky notes for each day of Whole 30 in that room. I had sweaty yoga sessions and long chats on the roof with good friends and $10 wine.
That space was a haven through many tumultuous times. And I miss it.
It's weird how contrary emotions can live side-by-side, coexisting as odd but harmonious bedfellows. Can I love where I am but miss where I was? I suppose, though it is far easier to choose one side of the equation and stick to it.
But transition involves emotions of many shades, many of them in seeming contradiction to one another. And each place brings new good and new hard. Things are not as black and white as I often wish that they were.
Lancaster, I miss you. And Charlotte, I love you. That is where we are today.