I’m here. I’m in Fairport–my hometown. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about it all yet. It had been a long few days leading up to this trip back east, and although it felt like a long wait to walk into this giant month that really is going to be one big storm, it came too fast. I flew into Baltimore late last night for the sole purpose of taking my dad’s car so that I can get around here for this next week. The moment I landed in Baltimore and stepped out of the airport, even though it was going on 1 am, I was blasted with humidity and the realization that the east coast is my absolute favorite place ever. And although I love Fairport more than any other place in the entire world, I suddenly absolutely did not want to have to be here. Because it means the end.
It was a long drive today. I was restless at about two hours into the six-hour drive, which partly is because I only slept for a few hours after flying across the country before I set out on my drive north. And although all I wanted was to not be in the car anymore, the closer and closer that I got to Rochester, the less excited I became. Because I don’t want this. I don’t. I don’t want to go have to go through this at all, and the closer I drove, the closer I was getting to entering into whatever this next month will hold for me.
Even though I am hating this, I still couldn’t help but smile as the small skyline of Rochester came in view outside my window. I was happy to turn off my GPS when I finally knew where I was. I can’t not be happy to be here in some ways because I love it so much. Hopefully that love will help combat all that I am currently hating. The very first thing I saw when I pulled onto my street was a big yellow for sale sign swinging in the afternoon breeze. I’m currently in my bedroom–a place that in so many ways I consider to be my sanctuary. And I can honestly say that I don’t know how I feel about this yet. Walking into my house almost felt like an out of body experience. This is my home. This is where I grew up. But it feels empty. Barren. Half of the furniture is already gone. All of our personal pictures have been packed away. Every single personal touch is absent from this house, which makes it feel less like mine. I feel sort of detached from it all, which maybe is a feeling that I should welcome, but I can’t. Because there is nothing that I wanted more than to be able to come back home one last time and have it feel like home, and it doesn’t. It’s already gone. And I am not quite sure what to do with that yet.
I only got to spend about twenty minutes in my house after my long drive before I had to leave again. My dad gave strict instructions to a neighbor that has been helping with the house not to allow any showings while I am here, but she scheduled two viewings for this very night, which is not news that I met with happiness. Intense anger would be a better way to describe it. So after what has felt like so many years of waiting for whatever all of this is to begin, which in truth I had been, I couldn’t even be here. The reality of this situation is much more crushing when I can see it in person. When I have to leave because the family that may soon call this place home is walking through my beloved house so I have to go. I did not like that.
But I love my hometown. I love it so much. I especially love this time of year, which signifies so much to me in so many ways. Spring and summer in upstate New York is amazing. I love how green and lush everything is. I love how every time I am here, it feels like I never left. I am not quite sure how I am going to leave it for good, but I am trying not to think about that yet, and just take it one day at a time. And although in so many ways today has been a difficult day, it has been a great one as well. I got to see one of my closest friends who I hadn’t seen in nearly two years–Leigh. We became extremely close in high school and have been great friends ever since. I had dinner at her house and then we went for a long walk along the canal and through the village of Fairport. And it all just felt so normal, and so entirely a part of what my life here is all about. I loved it. I loved just sitting around her kitchen table with her family, laughing and catching up and telling stories. That felt more like home than the cursory glance I gave my now barren house when I rushed out the door upon my arrival. Yet now I am here. And this is happening.
Yesterday I had a layover in Phoenix, and I stopped at a Starbucks to order something before my long flight to Baltimore. The man making my drink greeted me as I walked over to the counter, and then literally stopped what he was doing to thank me for smiling at him. I was a little taken aback by his compliment. He continued to make my drink and asked me a question or two, and then continued to thank me for giving him a smile that he said made his day, telling me that he was amazed as I stood there and just seemed perpetually happy and at peace. That was exactly the opposite of how I was feeling as I thought on the long flight I was about to get on and what it was leading me to. As I thanked him and took my drink, he told me to keep being happy because there are not enough people in the world that just are utterly content. When he said that, it reminded me of sitting in a seminar in England just days after I came back from my first trip to Lockerbie. I was a complete wreck as I was suddenly facing the deepest grief that I had ever experienced. One of the leaders asked me to speak to this woman named Stephanie about my story. She came into the room and asked this leader to point me out to her because we had never met. When we did meet, she told me that before I was even pointed out to her, she saw something on my face that made her pause. To my astounded ears, she told me that when she looked into my face, despite everything I was going through, all she could see was a deep and utter peace. She saw Jesus. And I hope that that is what that man saw yesterday. He told me that his day was made better when he encountered a rare happiness and contentedness about me. And that gives me hope. That gives me hope that despite how I am feeling and the complete pain and loss of this situation, that this something deeper–this peace and contentedness–will provide me with the confidence and strength that I don’t feel like I currently possess, but which I am sure that I do. Because it is something bigger than me. Someone. And that will make this okay even when it doesn’t feel okay.
So I am home. I’m in my favorite place in the world, and I am loving it and hating it at the same time. I’m loving being in Fairport, but hating being in my house. I wasn’t expecting that. I’ve already lost it, but I also still have to lose it.
I do not like this.