The drive to our small rental house from the LAX Airport was agonizing. Two wrecks within a mile of each other on an early Saturday evening meant the 91 Freeway was stopped up like a nasty plugged drain. Often, Bryan and I have scratched our heads over what causes such utter holdups on the freeways here, with six or seven lanes of traffic and carpool lanes that often don’t move any faster than the other crawlers. We keep coming back to the one truth we can find: Southern California simply has too many people – too many cars – for its roads to handle. So, then, a funnel system takes effect. So many cars on the same road, it’s like trying to go through a funnel to get anywhere.
That’s what happened on the Saturday evening I flew into LAX from Kansas City. A drive home from the airport that usually takes 40 minutes took an hour and 20 minutes. The perpetual stop-and-go motion of the car as it eased its way through the traffic mess threatened an explosive car sickness.
“Are you excited to see Will?” Bryan asked from the driver’s seat, making a stab at conversation.
I nodded. I was, but I was so consumed with trying to not throw up, any other thought in my head then was secondary. That made me feel worse – that I couldn’t me more excited to see my baby just then.
I had thought a lot on the three-hour plane ride to LA about that nagging concept of home. What was it, and where? It felt so off to be flying back to a place I was not the least bit interested in returning, yet at the same time be so ready to see my family who was in that very place. I wanted to come down and scoop up my family and take them away – back to Kansas, Indiana, Wyoming – anywhere but So Cal. I especially felt the pull to Kansas, now that our friends there are having kids. How cool would it be for all of them, just boys now – two-year-old Will and one-year-old Derrick and one-month old Ben – to grow up together? I had met Derrick within two days of his being born. I had held Ben at three weeks. We had been around for these momentous events. When, now, would we see these kids and these families again?
I tried to push those thoughts away. But they didn’t go away easily. With one more now on the way – ours, a second – the desire to be surrounded by people who have been invested in our lives for more than six months is extreme. (Being pregnant could also have had something to do with that nausea I felt in the car on the ride home.) The desire to be close to some aspect of “famlily,” be it our own parents or close friends who we consider family, only continues to grow. Kansas, to me, made perfect sense. It was a good halfway point between grandparents, and still a place that was comfortable, familiar.
That was the other thing. For seven years, Bryan’s and my’s parents have lived in the same state, in the same small town. For seven years, they have lived across Main Street from each other. This year, that is changing, as B’s parents are moving back to their own familiar stomping grounds in southern Indiana. Will’s grandparents will now be three thousand miles apart, which means if we choose to live close to one set of grandparents, we will be that far away from the other set. Kansas. Makes sense.
Except that I don’t control the cards. Neither does Bryan or anyone else in our family. God does. And so our prayer remains: Lead us where You want us to go. Show us Your will for where our home – our permanent home – will eventually be. Sometimes we pray that prayer boldly. Other times it comes out as a mere cry or shout of frustration. But however it comes, that prayer happens a lot around here.
We crave a place to be settled. We crave a house we own, a community in which we can fully and for the long term invest ourselves. We crave people we can call at a moment’s notice to watch kids for an hour, and we crave being around people who are comfortable enough to do the same to us. We crave permanence.
This week – tomorrow, in fact – we will make the 14-hour drive to Pinedale, Wyoming for Christmas. It’s an important year to be there: Bryan’s dad is retiring from the ministry (after which he and his wife will make the three-thousand-mile drive to their new Indiana home), and my dad will turn 60 on Christmas Day. This will be the last year we will celebrate Christmas with all of the grandparents at once. I hope in the worst way to see snow, yes, to even kiss it, and to be knocked over by that take-your-breath-away Wyoming cold, even for just a moment.
I can’t wait to be there. I would leave right now if I could. At the same time, I know the drive back to California will be a tough one. And that is where I will have to put on my big girl panties and face the return – and the Wyoming goodbyes – with a fiercely optimistic spirit.
We will return to Southern California, where Bryan will continue his long hours at a power plant construction site in Long Beach. We are only here for the duration of the project, most likely until May 2013. Then, we will move on. To where? To what?
We don’t know. But until then, we will do our best to bloom where we’re planted.
*What aspects of home do you love the most?