Give up the familiar, embrace the unknown

“Home” is a concept I ponder quite often. For me, Michigan, especially northern Michigan, will always be home. But the more I travel and live in other places, the more I realize that there are so many things that constitute “home.” Or rather, there are so many things that can make a place “home.”

I’m reminded of my friend Lindsay Hower’s idea of “finding home.” We find home in different ways wherever we are. I definitely find home among people. I often find home in the water. I find home in nature. I find home in something as small as freshly-baked chocolate chip scones and a warm cup of tea in the comfort of wherever it is I find myself living. I find home in routine — in incorporating the things I know I need in my life into my life.

In California, I found home in First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley and Sweat Oakland. I found home among my cat and among my friends, in being able to nest in two different spaces during my time there. I found home in Sunday trips to Berkeley Bowl — as frustratingly crowded as that store can be — as well as local cafes and various restaurants that became part of my weeks and months. Similar to my childhood in Michigan, my college years in Ohio and the places I’ve lived here and there, in California, I grew attached to the pieces that warmly comprised my sense of home.

During my first few months in Buenos Aires, I craved different parts of the home I’d made for myself in California. It’s something I’ve thought on quite a bit recently as I’ve been walking around Buenos Aires and readying myself for Bariloche. Building home is funny like that. It kind of creeps up on you, and I often think it takes moving on to realize just how much a place — even with all its perceived shortcomings — has become a home.

I’ve thought recently about the fact that when I first landed in Buenos Aires and navigated life here, I was wishing I could have my apartment, my church and my workout studio from the San Francisco Bay Area in Buenos Aires. I didn’t think much of it at the time. But lately, I’ve been having similar thoughts about the friends I’ve made and the church I’ve found in Buenos Aires. There’s a part of me that wishes I could pack those golden elements up and carry them with me to Bariloche. It’s always tough saying “goodbye,” or even “see you later,” to the people, places and things you treasure, those things that fill your cup up.

But in thinking this through — and thinking through the fact that I felt that way and sometimes still feel that way about things in California — I realize that in many ways doing so would defeat the purpose of exploring and experiencing new places.

Had I brought my friends, my apartment, my church and my workout studio from California here to Buenos Aires with me, I never would’ve met Ida, Maxi and Nahuel, my Buenos Aires roommates. I wouldn’t have met a lot of the people that I’ve met, including Analia, one of my favorite Argentines, one of my favorite people.

I never would’ve embraced a new church; worshipped the Lord in another language; been surrounded by fellow Christians in a way far different — and simultaneously similar — than I ever have before; met Ruth and the women I get together with on Tuesday evenings; and overall had my eyes opened and faith shifted. I treasure the experience of worshipping at and with Saddleback Buenos Aires.

As for the gym, I’m still working on that. As much as I love and miss Sweat Oakland, I know that working out here in Argentina holds something new for me, too.

My epiphany of recent days is this: if I brought all the familiar things with me, I wouldn’t be tested in the the ways I’m being tested; I wouldn’t be growing in the ways I am growing; I wouldn’t be experiencing life the way I’m experiencing life.

So yes, there are times when I want the familiar and wish I could package it all up and bring it with me, but I also realize it defeats much of the purpose for exploring and experiencing life in this way. Often the most magical moments in this journey come from letting go of what I know — that which is familiar to me — and embracing the unknown of all that lies around me. It’s not easy, but it’s a big part of why I’m living this way.

The best part? No matter where I wander, I can always pack and carry lessons learned. So the ways in which I’ve found home in the past are guiding and inspiring my next moves.

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