Sometimes taking time away from a busy, hectic life can bring things into perspective in a way you wouldn’t have known unless you had left. Recently I moved to Colorado Springs from Chicago, IL. With that move comes a lot of packing, saying goodbye, and trying to figure out what your new life means in this new mountainous place. I think for me, there was equal parts excitement of the new adventure and then apprehension for choosing something so new.
My normal was flat terrain, massive cities, blues music, brutal winters, unforgiving summers, traffic like most wouldn’t believe, friends, family, and familiar haunts. My normal was comfortable, safe, fun, and supportive. My normal had late nights, good talks, lunch dates with nephews, and play dates with nieces. My normal knew every street, every shortcut, every bypass, and every detour. My normal knew most tasty stops, delicious dives, and places to avoid. I knew my normal and my normal knew me. There is great power in being known.
A friend of mine, after a change in her life, told me that she was getting back to the “new normal.” I said ‘good for her’ and never really landed on what that meant to her, or even what that could have meant for me.
Recently I traveled to New Zealand to be a part of my best friend’s wedding. The wedding was for Corbin Elliott. I’ve known Corbin since I was 15. We went to High School together, and senior year he moved back home to New Zealand. If you know my story, you know that I lived in New Zealand from 2013-2016. I told myself that after I moved back home to the U.S. in 2016, the next time I would be in NZ would be for Corbin’s wedding. A year and four months later, he was married. I have to say, sitting at the head table, listening to all the people bear witness to Rebecca and Corbin’s lives was a beautiful and hilarious thing. Also, if you knew Corbin, seeing him emote in this specific way on his wedding was quite unique and touching. I’ll never forget it.
This wedding was a gathering of most of my favorite people. We talked, laughed, and danced the night into morning. Many of these people hadn’t seen me in the time I was away and some pleaded with me to stay and never leave them. Coming back to NZ, which really is a second home to me, came with questions. Would I arrive and never want to leave? Would I start hanging out with my friends, remember the good times we had, and find it difficult to remove myself? Would this country seduce me all over again? I have to admit, at first, it looked like this might have been the case. Being back felt REALLY good. The scenery, the people, the food, hell…even the air smelled different. Yet, in the last days leading up to the wedding, I began to feel a change. The change was less bad and more of a peace.
When I moved to New Zealand, I had a moment in my first year on the top of a hill looking out at the countryside. The moment washed over me and gave me a feeling of peace. It was the moment I knew NZ was home. I’ll always have a home in Chicago and I’ll always have a home in NZ. Home is where you make a family, and as cliché as it sounds, home is where you decide to put your heart. While I was in NZ this past week, I told friends that I didn’t have that feeling in Colorado yet. I wasn’t complaining. I had only been in CO for a month and my friends said the same. Yet, in those days leading up to the wedding, the feeling of peace that I felt was clear. New Zealand was my home, but I have a new home now. I have a new normal now.
My new normal has new streets to find, new detours to learn, new restaurants to try, and new failures to experience. My new normal has brand new churches, jobs, friends, and relationships. My new normal has new traditions, new adventures, and new terrain. But, new normal also has family and I’m grateful for that. I think I’m starting to understand what my friend was talking about; Getting back to a new normal isn’t forgetting the past and moving on with yourself. New normal is about understanding the past, understanding that life changes, and accepting where you’re living, working, and making a life. It’s about embracing your current situation and saying, “This is me now, let’s move forward.”
I’ll always love New Zealand and I’ll always love Chicago, but Colorado is my new normal. The feeling of peace I had in NZ this week about Colorado was a step. I realized that I can’t be present here, and keep thinking/living in the past there. If I do, I defeat any progress I want to make. I found closure on my trip in a way I didn’t know that I needed. My trip was great, but it made me understand that I DO feel a sense of home in Colorado, and frankly, I was ready to go home.