In just under a month, I will meet the love of my life at the altar, where we will exchange vows and wedding bands, promising each other our entire selves for the rest of our lives. It’s incredible to think that our wedding day is so close. It seems like just yesterday that I was visiting reception halls with my new fiance, that he was getting down on one knee to propose in the place where he first asked me to be his girlfriend. And somehow, at the same time, it feels like I’ve been waiting for this day for too long. But whether I’m ready or not (I’m so ready), the big day will be here before we know it.
This last month is going to be a whirlwind of final exams and graduation activities, sacramental celebrations and receptions, final meetings with caterers, florists, and seamstresses. We’re finalizing our guest list, writing papers, and preparing for the end of the school year, and all at the same time. And if that wasn’t enough, we’re preparing the place that I will soon be able to call “home.”
Andrew and I spent several weeks apartment hunting a few months ago. It was somewhat stressful at times, particularly when we were looking at apartment complexes that would allow me to be closer to the job that I wasn’t 100% sure I had yet. I signed our lease for our new apartment before I signed my revised full-time contract for my new job description (actually, that hasn’t officially happened yet, though I have been guaranteed the full-time position next year). There are few things that can be as stressful as signing your name to a one-year lease for an apartment that is closer to the job that you don’t actually have yet. Especially when you know that you will be living far from friends, as well as any other potential job opportunities if the one that you were holding out for didn’t come through.
But the offer did come through. My new full-time position was approved by the finance board of the parish, and I was signed up for another year as the Director of Religious Education, as well as the new Youth Minister. Our new apartment was half an hour closer to work, and I finally had a place that I could truly call “home” in DC.
I have been a wanderer for several years now, never staying long in one place, but God willing, I have finally found somewhere that I can rest for the next few years. I have not lived anywhere for more than a year since college, when I was an undergraduate student who lived in the dorms (and even then, I changed residence hall every year). After college, I spent a year in DC pursuing my Master’s, a year in the convent discerning my vocation, a year at home getting back on my feet, and now a year in DC again finishing my Master’s. But once I graduate, I will be done with school, and once I get married, I’ll be done moving for a while.
I have been blessed to be able to see and do so much over the past few years. I was able to teach ballroom dance, went to Disney for the first time, saw the Yankees play in the new stadium, met the love of my life and my future husband, and I’ve just spent the past 9 months planning a wedding. But now it’s finally time to settle down. I can finally go home.
I was fortunate to spend some time at home after leaving the convent, and I was so thankful for the opportunity to return to the days where I could eat dinner at home with my family nearly every night, could spend evenings on the couch watching TV with my parents, and could watch sunny summer afternoons go by while sitting outside of a Starbucks with some of my best friends. After so many years away from home, it was the best gift I could have been given. But that made leaving home again that much more difficult. After a year at home, it was difficult to go back to the life of a wanderer.
As you know from previous posts, this past year has been a bit of a struggle. I’ve been homesick a lot, both for my home in New Jersey, and for that place where you feel like you’re “at home.” You can find that in countless places, including college dorm rooms, but I struggled to find the feeling here.
I used to count down the days until I was able to go home (oh wait, I still do), and I would dread the day that I had to return to DC. There was nothing more painful than finishing a wonderful week at home with my family than taking a 4 hour bus ride back to the city. Once I was back, I would just start counting down the days until I was able to go home again.
My friends have gotten into the habit of teasing me because I refuse to admit that I live in Maryland. It’s partly because I refuse to renounce my state of origin, but it’s mostly because the idea of acknowledging that I live in Maryland depresses me. Yes, I reside here. Yes, when you mail things to me, you should mail them to Maryland and not New Jersey. But no, please don’t make me say that I live here. There’s nothing more depressing than admitting that you live in a place that just doesn’t feel like home. It hurts to admit that you live where you don’t feel like you belong.
I still talk about going back to New Jersey as “going home.” When I return to Maryland, it’s simply because I have to go back to school. But I won’t be able to use that excuse anymore soon. And I’m actually okay with that now. I’ve finally found a place that I can call home.
Will New Jersey always be home to me? As long as my family is there. But soon my family will be in Maryland, and so as of May 23, 2015, Maryland will be my home too. Home is where I can be myself. Home is where I don’t have to worry. Home is where my family is. Home will be where my husband is. So in less than a month, my home will be in Maryland. And as I’ve learned, there’s no place like home.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!