In my last post I mentioned that I've been struggling with the idea of "home" lately. I thought I'd go into some more detail here in hopes that it might be cathartic in a way.
I'll start by saying that I like where we live. My husband truly enjoys his job as a software engineer at NASA. The job is what brought us here, and it has been a rewarding job for him for the past ten years. I knew it would be hard to leave Louisiana, but the opportunity was there and we both agreed that it was the right time for us to make that move back in 2001. We'd been married for three years and I think we were ready to feel that we were truly "on our own." Moving away meant leaving his hometown, and the town that had been my new home since starting college six years earlier. His parents lived there and we had a great network of friends as well. Leaving was very hard but it was the right thing to do for us. This became even more clear when the next chapter of our lives began -- trying to have a baby. Living near Houston opened up a lot of opportunities to find a doctor who could help us. It took us a while to do that, but we've been very glad that we had those resources available.
There have been lots of great things about living here, not to mention that we are only a little more than two hours' drive from my family. I know that fact may make it seem silly that I often bellyache about being homesick. But the fact is that, even after ten years, Texas still doesn't feel like home. My heart is back home in Louisiana.
If you know Louisiana, then you know that it's a place all its own. No, I don't mean New Orleans, although it's certainly unique! Contrary to popular belief, the whole of Louisiana can't be summed up by experiencing only New Orleans. As close as we are here in this neighboring state, the way of life is really quite different. I use expressions here all the time that make my friends ask what on earth I'm talking about. I talk of food that they've never eaten, much less heard of. It's a culture and a cuisine that can't be re-created anywhere. That place will always be home to me, no matter where I live.
We have made a great home here, though. We bought our house in 2002 after a year of apartment living. It's a modest three-bedroom house that has been just the right size for our small family. I love our home. As a homemaker I spend lots of time here. I like the paint colors we chose and the way that we've decorated it with things that we love. We've made lots of good memories here, although this house also holds the memories of our six miscarried children. Those are tough memories, but also ones that I don't wish to forget entirely. The back yard is home to the tree we planted for them (well, we planted it for our first baby, but it has come to represent all six for us over the years). I know that it will be hard to leave this place someday. I'm sure that future residents here won't give that tree a second thought.
So, I'm torn. I like our home here, but lately I feel so disconnected. I think it all began to snowball about a month before Lily was born. You see, I've been a stay-at-home wife (and finally now, mom) for the past decade. I don't have a very large social group here. The majority of my local friends have come from church. My church family are the only people that I see on a regular, weekly basis. About five months ago, though, the small mission church (or church plant) that we'd been attending for the past eight years abruptly closed its doors.
We'd been members there through thick and thin, since its very first meeting. In the early years we met in a school before renting our own building. Numbers had been dwindling and finances were tough for the past couple of years, and we were back to meeting in a temporary location and trying to figure out what to do next. My husband and I personally weren't sure at that point of the future of that church or whether God was leading us to look for a new church home. The end came suddenly, though, and it left us feeling pretty unsettled. Of course we have stayed in touch with a few very dear friends whom we treasure, but we miss that scheduled weekly time of worshiping together.
I think the combination of losing our church home right before having a baby has been even tougher than I first imagined. It's so hard for me to think of visiting churches with a small baby. She's sort of on a schedule now, but it would be difficult to keep her with us during a service and even more difficult for me to leave her with total strangers in a different nursery week after week. There are lots of aspects to this that I could go into, but I'll just say that I don't feel up for it yet. I know from experience that church hunting is not an easy thing to do. And it intimidates me even more to think of doing it with a baby.
On top of all that, I think that having a baby in general has made me think more and more about home. I want my little Texan to grow up knowing as much as she can about her Louisiana heritage. It is a long and rich (in tradition, not in wealth) heritage that I've researched and can trace back at least seven generations on my side of the family alone, not to mention my husband's. And although I know we are just over two hours away, sometimes I really do wish that Lily could just hop on over to her Granny's house for a visit. There are times when two and a half hours seems like so far away.
My heart is there, but it's also here. It's here because "home" is where my husband and daughter are. Within the walls of our house, I feel perfectly happy and secure and at peace. But when I think about getting out there and finding a new church family, and especially down the road when we must start looking at schools for Lily, it feels so foreign and unsettling. It's hard to imagine our future here, but I know that moving back would never be exactly the same as it used to be.
It feels that somehow, at the same time, I have two homes and yet no home. Does that make sense? My heart is in two places: here and there. But staying here means starting over, just like returning there would also be starting over. Like I mentioned in the last post, we have no plans to move. It's just something we think about, especially now that we have a child.
And after all of that, I realize that houses aren't really what make up a home. People do and families do; I know that. Sometimes I wonder if I'm simply chasing some elusive feeling of what home is or used to be.
(I'm not even sure if these thoughts of mine have translated well into a blog post, but there you have it. Thanks for sticking with it if you've read this far!)