Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hard confessions on being a visitor

I've been reflecting lately on this idea of home, influenced by Ashley Larkin, who is spending 2014 weaving this theme into her writing.  As such, this is partly where my writing today stems from. 

. . . . . . . . . 

As a kid, I never put down roots.  We were never in one place long enough to call it home, in a rooted sense.  I grew up trained in the skills of saying goodbye and letting go, and at some point along the way, those evolved into the skills of not-getting-too-attached and not-depending-on-anyone.  

Pretty much, I make a great visitor.

It's been thirteen years now that I've called Seattle home - a twist in my life's trajectory I never planned, sticking around here so long.  Some days when I marvel at this, how much I love this place I call home, I even think for a fleeting moment that I have it down.  This whole putting down roots business.  

And other moments, that I have it completely backwards.

If I can be painfully, awkwardly honest, I need to confess a revelation that came to me the other day on a walk: I think I'm more attached to the place of home here than the people I love here.  Or put another way, I've learned to put down roots with a place but not with people.  

It's downright scary to admit that, because I'm afraid of judgment, of how it conveys things both true and untrue about me.  As I read those words, hear myself say it aloud, I know how backward it is.  I'm deeply attached to all the places that hold memories of my journey here the past thirteen years.  I've grown up here in Seattle, come into my skin here.  My worldview expanded here through my college and grad school years.  Seattle has seen me through tragedy and numerous heartbreaks.  It's here I met and married my husband, and it's here he and I have memories tucked away in neighborhoods and parks, taco trucks and Vietnamese restaurants, Chinese markets and Mexican tiendas, dance halls, Catholic cathedrals and Presbyterian sanctuaries.  I've known this city through running, walking and biking her streets, trails and parks; driving her crazy, twisted back roads; bumping along from here to there on her accordian buses.  

Even now, thirteen years later, each time my eyes sweep across the Puget Sound toward the Olympic mountains; each time I stand along the shore of Lake Washington and stare across to Mercer Island or Bellevue; each time I marvel at the way the floating bridge is lit up like a strand of luminaries from shore to shore, or catch sight of Mt. Rainier rising in a mist just south of where I live, my breath catches in my throat.  

How I love this place.

And I love my people here, too.  Lord knows, I've been blessed with some amazing folks along the way, and my issues don't diminish that truth.  People who have lived with me through the adventures of college, through my beautiful, messy season of social work, through my detoxing-from-church year and my practically-living-at-church years, through the utter exhaustion and joys of grad school, through relationships and break-ups and broken hearts, through misunderstandings and tension and forgiveness, through Papa's coma and then his death and all the years since of picking up the pieces, through job changes and wrestling with identity, through injury and marriage and surgery, through depression and withdrawal and coming back to the land of the living.  And I can't tell you why, as much as my heart loves these people, I think after all these years, I'm still a visitor to friendship.  

It's much easier to love a place than it is to love people.

A place can't hurt you, forget you, walk away from you or be too busy for you the way people can.

And maybe this is why it's been so heavy on my heart, this gnawing hunger to know real friendship more this year.  To be a real friend, one that risks painful goodbyes.  Maybe, after all these years, I'm finally realizing my "attacher" is broken, still scared to death of needing someone, still out of practice of asking for someone to be with me, to walk with me more than a block of this journey.  It's still easier to go it alone, because that's what I've known in my years of being a visitor.  

So today, I bring that broken, hungry, feeble piece of me to my Father God, and I ask him to heal, to make me able to be more than a visitor to friendship. 

. . . . . . . 

Joining up a day late (and never, per usual, in five minutes of writing) with Lisa Jo and the community at Five-Minute Friday.  The prompt is "Visit."  



  1. Amber, what a beautiful and honest post. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. I loved your summation that places don't forget or hurt us, but people do. How true and places can give a sense of permanence and stability. Yet, people are so very important too. May God answer your prayer for healing and may you find true friendships this year.

    Popping in from 5 Minute Friday

    1. Darlene, thank you for 'hearing' my heart here in such an affirming way. I am appreciative of your presence here, for your kind and honest words.

  2. Amber, I too feel that need to be more real with the people in my home-community. As the reality of home with my children living in my same house has gone away....I need to spend more time in the honesty of my heavenly home and that we as believes are the Kingdom of God on earth. We need to welcome each other with every meeting. Welcome to my home. Shalom~

    1. Deena, thank you for welcoming me in :-) You're so right, I could definitely spend more time "in the honesty of my heavenly home," too... contemplating the reality of that in the midst of the everyday. I appreciate your visit and your words.

  3. Interesting Amber. I totally understand what you are saying. I come against my attachment disorder as I am calling differently, but I understand it. I am glad you are sharing the hard to admit and say aloud bits of your journey.

    1. Karmen, I figured you could relate. I hear you, too, about the attachment disorder, and I didn't want to call my issue that without knowing if it's deserving of that title. It might be... but out of respect, didn't want to minimize someone else's experience with that label. It definitely feels like more than fear or lack of trust or needing more courage to risk with people. I seriously feel that the part of me that attaches to people is broken, and that without trying (and even with trying), though I love and enjoy and desire to connect with the people in my life, there is a detachment from needing them. Anyways, I don't know how to slice and dice it, but I know it's a place that needs healing...

      Thank you, as always, for being here. For being a friend.

  4. Clinically speaking neither of us would probably qualify for that term, but disorder in the sense that something is broken, dis-ordered in our ability to allow attachment. I understand your carefulness in naming it that with your background. I appreciate you as well.

    1. Ok, I didn't know if that was an actual diagnosis you'd received ;) I'm grateful we can be dis-ordered together...finding our way through grace to know something more than this brokenness. Love you.

  5. Amber, once again, friend, you are writing so honestly from the hurting places, and yet there is hope in what you're naming and saying and longing for. It's amazing to me how we all are longing for home, really, though it looks different for each of us. I can absolutely understand what you're talking about - with all your moves, with place being such an important part of the grounding you seek, but the people being -- well, people -- with all the things that make them so.
    Thank you for all the ways you honor and bless me as friend. You are a great gift to me, and I'm glad you're part of my heart's knowing home.