The 2010s started, and ended, in very different ways, but the one consistent thing was that Jen and I were together through the entire decade. We started off 2010 as a couple who had only been together for about six weeks, yet decided to get married a little over a week into the decade. We just ended 2019 as a homeowning, dual-career family of four. And so much changed in the course of just a few months of 2019, especially when we trusted a close friend to become our realtor, and to help us get out of renting. Both of us had been renting in some form for almost two decades, and it was time to move on to something better. It was time to be courageous enough to say “Okay, we are here, and here we shall stay.” There was a lot of anxiety that went into that. What if something fell through? What if we had struggles and it was difficult? What if there would be letdown and disappointment?
But what if there wasn’t? What if the decision to have a sense of faith, and to move forward regardless, was the right thing to do? Before, when we were still both in graduate school, we did a lot of things on a hope and a prayer. Marry. Have children. Move for new opportunities. Try new things. Make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility that things might not work out. At least not the way we expected them to.
So we decided to try, on faith, to try to find a house. And for four months, we dealt with a barrage of paperwork, unexpected costs, and phone calls, not only for one house that we looked at buying, but also for the second house that, upon the first house falling through, would become our new home. Homebuying became something that connected Jen and I towards the pursuit of something bigger. It reminded me of planning our wedding, preparing for our first child, and making our first of several relocations. It connected us, scared us and excited us all at the same time.
It’s hard to say yes to some place, especially when a place also causes struggle. 2019, professionally, was a tough year for me, not in terms of success, but definitely in terms of feeling a loss of greater purpose for my work. I spent a lot of the year questioning my worth as a museum educator. But in looking for a new house, and in looking for ways to better connect our family with the community in which we live, I found a stronger sense of drive and devotion in working to be more community-rooted. I started working more in the schools, on the ground with teachers, and thinking of ways in which I could make a positive impact. Trying to find a home for my family would ultimately help me try to find a home for my own life and work. It was not about seeking better things elsewhere, but instead about trying to deepen existing roots, in order to carry more water and be better connected to the ground.
Quite often, I have asked myself whether or not I might be better off branching off my skills into something that’s more obviously impactful. Social justice work. Human services. Ministry. It’s always been about trying to be useful and purposeful.
However, every time that I have done that, I have ultimately stayed put, and dug deeper, and gotten better at what I do as a result.