Friday, July 30, 2010

The Wheres and the Whos

I moved to North Carolina because I wanted to live someplace where they had Waffle Houses and because of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I got over my infatuation with the Waffle House after about a year. But I’ve hardly spent enough time in the mountains to get over them.

Ever since I was a senior in high school and spent my spring vacation camping in the mountains of North Carolina with my best friend, I have had this connection to those hazy ridges that I can’t quite explain. That trip was an adventure-and-a-half for two eighteen-year-old girls. I remember my mom was hesitant to let me go and, after the fact, I never had the ovaries to tell her that she was right to be concerned. Years later, as a mother of teenagers myself, I learned that you shouldn’t tell your mother everything you do. Mainly out of consideration for your mother. But I digress. I believe I was talking about the mountains, not my mother. And yet, maybe that’s a good way to describe the connection I feel with the mountains. My mother has been gone since I was 28; I still miss her like hell. And when I’m away from the mountains I always miss them. After I’ve been there and I have to leave, I usually shed a few tears. Spending time in the mountains feels like coming home to me, although I’ve been a flatlander all my life. Don’t know exactly what that’s about. Maybe it’s just one of those grass-is-always-greener things. (Although, in this case, blue would be the coveted color.)

I always thought that someday I’d retire to the North Carolina mountains. Now that retirement is within sight, I don’t know that that will happen. So little of my life has turned out the way I would have planned. I never expected to be living in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s a fine place to be, as big cities go. But the older I get, the more I hate cities.

I’ve changed my mind on so many things in my life. Sometimes by choice, and sometimes as a result of circumstances beyond my control. And the way I feel about where I live has changed radically. I don’t think that much about the where these days. My concern is with the who.

I need to be with the people I love. The problem with that is, the people I love are scattered all across the United States. (Yeah, I know, that’s what Facebook is for. Right.) For now, I’ve chosen to live in Charlotte because of the people at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on The Plaza. God knows, I dearly love them. But, as a pastor, I know that love has its limits. For starters, it doesn’t keep me warm at night. And I always come home to an empty house after Christmas Eve worship while my family is hundreds of miles away from me. I also know that, when the time comes to leave the people of Holy Trinity, my relationship with them will end. So, they are not a part of my retirement plan. I’m hoping that when I’m ready to hang up my clerical collar I’ll be able to put the where and the who together. (A grandchild or two in the mix might help. If either of my kids are reading this, that’s for you.)

Oh, enough of this early morning ruminating. I have a big day ahead of me. I’ll be spending it in the mountains. And with some people I love. Thank you, God, for wheels.

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