I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on November 17th, 1980. Almost immediately my parents moved to Miami, Florida. They were missionaries. First serving on a Navajo reservation outside of Albuquerque; then straight down to the Cubans at the very bottom of America.
From there, I moved to Mississippi where I spent the formative years of my childhood. Legend has it, a giant cockroach scampered across my tiny baby body in the Miami poor-house my parents rented. My mom screamed, forgetting that my Papaw was on the phone, and that was it. He got in his truck, packed a wooden baby crib in between the two front seats and came to Miami to rescue me and bring me to my real home. Mississippi.
I moved to Texas the summer after second grade. I changed houses another four times before high school ended and another half-dozen or so times throughout college and my early 20's. Still, it was all within a 30 mile radius. So North Texas has been my home for the past 25 years. Flat land, miserable heat, Cowboy love, football bliss, terrible traffic, State Fair happiness, friends, family, favorite restaurants, parks, malls, churches- a melting pot of people and places, smells and sounds, memories and maladies- Texas is the place I've always called home.
Until last week.
And that's when my address changed.
Everything is brand new
Well, not everything. In terms of moving- we've sorta cheated. I've worked in Nashville for over six years now. I've lived here for short stints, even. In the first 7 days of being here we've already had friends over for dinner and gone out with several other sets of friends. Annie already has an in-home daycare that she loves and knows well. I'm not afraid to venture out by myself. I know the roads, the neighborhoods, the language, the restaurants, even the parks. Besides being able to tell you which Farmer's Market (and there are many) is the best; I could almost pass for a Nashville native.
But I am learning that just because you've visited a place, doesn't mean you know it. Just because you have passed through, doesn't mean it automatically passes for home. Being a part of something from the outside doesn't make you a local- it just makes you a frequent visitor.
And so now- I am a local- and it all feels strangely new.
I have never had city gas and a hot water heater, both, in the same house. I've never noticed neighborhood playgrounds and haven't cared who the mayor was or what schools were Blue Ribbons winners. I've never learned roads based on early morning traffic and I've never inquired how much it is to join the YWCA of Middle Tennessee. (It's too much for this starving musician family. Boo.) I've never known what they meant by Middle Tennessee, for that matter. I've visited churches on a "meet my needs for a few weeks" basis, not on a "where do we feel led to plant our family" type basis. And when you live here- you can't eat the way you do when you're just visiting here. I've never looked at these restaurants as permanent; just transient centers of happiness on my visits to the heart of the Bible Belt. I've been to Nashville more times than I can count. But I've never lived in Nashville. And now- everything seems brand new.
At our going away party in Texas, my friend Rebecca told me that when she moved from our childhood home to beautiful Colorado, she felt like everyday she discovered new treasures.
"Really Jenny. It was the best season ever. It's like one day you figure out which grocery store has the best fruit and the next day you discover a coffee shop on your street and the next day you walk through your neighborhood Target and map it out and realize how much you love the different layout. And it's like all new and exciting and each little thing, each day is a new treasure, a new discovery."
And I'm so grateful she said that.
Because this girl, who knows Nashville like the back of her hand, doesn't really know Nashville, because I've only ever been a visitor- not a local. As soon as my feet hit the hilly Tennessee asphalt and it became apparent that I had a new zipcode-
fear set in.
What am I doing here? Where will Annie go to school? How do I know which car place isn't going to scam me? Will we ever find a church here- there are over 700 of them- and that's just in Nashville city limits. Will my allergies always be this bad? If it's 75 right now, in June, what will it be like in December? I don't even own a real coat- Will the friends who have been long-distance friends want to be my real-life friends here in Nashville? Will they like me when I am around- you know- like all the time? And what about the friends we've left behind. Do they notice we are gone? Or am I the only one crying?
It's interesting how fear creeps in and paralyzes.
It's even more interesting how Jesus always answers fear. Always stands up to it. Always trumps fear with freedom.
My fears, unsubstantiated as they are, are trumped today by freedom.
Freedom to discover and take joy in new treasures. The coffee shop down the street that I love. Coffee + Table. The giant screened in back door and the breeze that seems to constantly blow into my kitchen. The sunset framed by big beautiful hills (Annie will tell you that we live in the mountains now). Annie calling hills 'mountains' now. Knowing that Ryan works right upstairs above our favorite bakery in Franklin, Tennessee- the one we've been going to as tourists for years. The man who sells watermelons and peaches on the side of the road next to our street. The long-distance friends who want to be real friends...
Each day a million little treasures reveal themselves. Each day fear subsides and the freedom to discover a new life joyously wins. And each day, I find it easier to say-
Nashville is my home.