Monday, September 12, 2011

Seeking Place

If you follow my status updates on Facebook -- and I assume that if you're reading this it's because you know me well enough to be friends with me on Facebook -- then you know that I have recently moved.  I've left my home of eleven years in Decorah, Iowa and moved to Shawnee, Oklahoma.  My family, husband, kids and dog, are still in Iowa for at least a couple more weeks until they move down here as well. 

To say that we miss each other is a gargantuan understatement.  So to help alleviate the missing we agreed to meet halfway in Liberty, Missouri for a quick but important get together.  We chose a hotel that boasted an indoor water park as a prime source of family entertainment, and made our way to the big M.O. 

After a dinner out, we went back to our room, changed into our suits and headed for the water and some slip sliding fun.  Sadly, and strangely for a Friday night, the water slide was closed.  But the rest of the "park" was wide open.  One of the fun features were the buckets.  This is a circle of primary colored cone shaped buckets that are attached to a tall pole.  Each bucket is continuously filled with water and without warning will suddenly tip over and dump a deluge of water on the person below.  This is fun.  Did you know that?  It is.

So the kids and I began to circle around the bottom of the pole, doing our own version of a May pole dance, or as my husband observed, "Musical chairs with a twist."  We walked around and around anticipating cold water to hit at any second.  Sometimes I could walk for several minutes with the water falling just before or after me.  But then the buckets would catch up with me.  And no matter how quickly or how slowly I moved, I was getting hit, one after another.

I realized as I walked around and around that this is what my life has felt like since I moved.  I'm fine.  I'm walking.  I'm fine.  Then WHAM!  The cold water of homesickness and heartsickness plummets down on me and I'm left sputtering and disoriented, and wondering what the heck I'm doing all this for in the first place.

I had little time to really go through this when I was still in Iowa.  I was too busy getting ready for the move.  But the day after I left, as I lay in a hotel bed in Wichita, Kansas, the first wave hit.  I had no timetable for being in Shawnee, so I made myself stay in bed until I knew that I could get up, get in my car and keep driving South.  But it took quite awhile, because the only direction I wanted to go was north to Iowa. 

I've come to see that these buckets of cold water hit me not only because I miss my family, my friends and all that was familiar back in Iowa.  They hit because I feel displaced.  A lovely couple from my new church has given me temporary shelter in their home.  The congregation as a whole has done everything in their power to make me feel welcome.  I've been fed, hugged, listened to, supported, invited out, checked on, etc.  No one could have done more to show me how welcome and wanted I am.

But I don't have a home.  I don't have an address to call my own.  Finding a house has become an issue I didn't expect, and the details of that are for another blog entry, another day.  I am displaced. 

As much as I don't like it, I also understand that I have something to learn from this.  I'm not fully cognizant of what the lessons may be, but they are there.  I suspect it will be a new depth of compassion for those who really are displaced; for the refugee, the homeless, the lost, the lonely, the immigrant seeking something more.  I also know that even in the midst of my frustration and heartsickness for the ones I love, I'm lucky.  I have people in a lot of places who love me, who worry about me, who remember me.  I have a job.  And I have an ending date, even if it seems a little fuzzy.  I know that this particular transition will at some point be over.  I will have an address, my family, a new life.  I know that the displacement will end.

But what about those who don't? 

This isn't meant to be an exercise in depression.  But it has been a wake up call.  If a few weeks of temporary displacement are doing a number on my psyche, what about those who live in this state for months or years or decades?  As I said, there are lessons to be learned.  I hope I pay attention.

                                                               The "cones of death"


  1. Wow, very well said. Powerful stuff.

  2. You are a gifted writer.

  3. Amy - Love this - and so impressed you are looking for the lesson in this difficult time. The buckets of cold water is such an apt analogy for difficult periods. I am so glad yours will end, but appreciate your thoughtfulness of others whose limbo never ends. Miss you my dear but so glad I have your wise words to read. -Alexandra