Thursday, October 21, 2010

What I love about Texas... or why familiarity is so important to me

Some of you just did a double take. Did Kacie really just say she loved Texas?

Well, that's not entirely true, but you know what I do love about being here now? After three and a half years, I love the feeling of familiarity. This is huge for me. In the life of a global nomad, half your time is spent being in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people and unfamiliar cultures. Now, I LOVE traveling, but I loathe hate and despise being new and unstable in a place that is supposed to be "home". I long for the newness to pass and things to be familiar.

So what I love now is that I can drive around my side of Dallas and I know the streets, I know how to get from here to there and what's in between, what fun restaurants or coffee shops are nearby, and where I can pick up groceries. I know how to use the DART rail and where highway traffic tends to bunch up. I know which schools are preppy and which ones.... aren't. I know the reputation of various local churches and neighborhoods. I love that I know when to look up Shakespeare in the Park, Addison Circle summer events, and the holiday lights viewing in Highland Park. I've got places that are "mine". My church. My apartment. My neighborhood. My office. My favorite coffee shop. My favorite ethnic dives.
See that sense of ownership? Indonesia and Papua are beautiful, exotic places, but the truth is that the biggest reason I love them is because they are where I grew up. They are my childhood, and I love them for that. I love Chicago and I really do think that it's an amazing, vibrant city that is currently in an awesome period of cultural growth. However, one reason I grew to love it so much is because it was the only place in America that I'd felt ownership of. After six years there it was my city. Even more so than most people that live there, I explored the downtown block by block on roller blades, I explored the landmarks via my catering career throwing parties in venues all over the city, I tracked the cultural events and explored new restaurants and destinations via I felt like I was a part of the city, and as someone who often feels like an "other" as I move around, that was huge.

Familiarity and security is something I place super high value on in relationships. Add moving a lot to the usual changes of life and growth and you end up with so many changes in relationships as well as places. For me, changes in relationship are some of the most stressful times. I'd much rather be engaged than get engaged. I'd much rather be married than get married. The transition point may be a beautiful beginning, but what I truly treasure is the stability of daily life with someone.
When Linda and I were roommates my favorite times were when we'd both be in the room, "studying", chatting, making coffee, giggling.... nothing big or monumental, but intimate in the small details of life shared between friends. The beauty of the familiar. It's the same with Isaac. I don't miss the newness of the first couple years of marriage at all. I find the daily security of a life built together to be much more fulfilling and beautiful.
In my senior year of college my counselor strongly encouraged me to not leave the city. In fact, she encouraged me to settle for years. She said that so much of the emotional stuff that I personally dealt with was tied up in transition that I really needed stability. She was right, but then again, "needed" is always on a scale. God can fill need when we can't.

This random blog described reading "My Antonia", a beautiful book by Willa Cather. I loved these thoughts:

"It was about the precious and incommunicable past that you share always with those you love, even though you are separated. It’s true. I do have the past, and so do they, and it will always bind us together. But when the memories are so potent you can taste them, it is hard not to want to envelop yourself in them, burying yourself in them, at the expense of the present and the ever foreboding future. The past is so certain. What has been has been, and you can see the purposes–the deeply wrought intent–in every action, experience, meal, thunderstorm. I cling to the past because I love that blessed assurance that we were alive and happy, and even when we weren’t happy, we were strong. The joy of the past. How secure and unwanting. May the future quickly become the past, so I can leave fear behind and revel in bygone days of laughter and living things."
So yes, familiarity is important to me. I treasure it when I have it.
However, I never want it to trap me so that I can't function in the unfamiliar. I pray that what IS secure in my life gives me the strength to face the unknown and new, even when it is daunting.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

i like this post a lot! i know exactly what you mean when you talk about familiarity and how valued it is, both in terms of a place and relationships. i'm so happy that where i live now is familiar!--even when relationships are changing. and this christmas i'm going back to where i grew up, where i haven't been for nearly 12 years--it will be interesting to go back to a place that holds the same kind of memories that you are talking about, but things will be different too, but there will be those kinds of relationships where we just know each other because of growing up together, and then afterwards leaving those things and coming back to the familiar place i live will be interesting!