September generally marks the end of summer. For a while now, like since the beginning of July, I’ve been planning to write a reflection on my summer, but I haven’t found the words to start. How do I sum up in one blog post the experience of moving back home after a year abroad? How do I say what home is? How can I describe what it feels like to be a married adult living with my parents again? How do I pinpoint what it’s like to see my best friends again after only talking a handful of times in the last six months? And what about the friends that I no longer get to see everyday (or every year, for that matter) now that I’ve left Norway? How can I share the significance of those friendships with my old friends in Greenville and the new friends I’ll make in Wichita?
I suppose feelings can translate into words more easily for some than for others. Sometimes my jumbled thoughts don’t come out as nice, eloquent paragraphs, but I do have the desire to remember these moments and the people that shaped my life in Norway and that filled my summer to the brim. So, I will attempt to put words to my experiences- to write what I feel and what I felt. The words that immediately come to my mind are these: bittersweet, good, bad, hilarious, frustrating, comforting, loss, hope. It was bitter to leave Norway and to know that I may never see some of my friends again, but it was sweet to return to friends back in the U.S. It’s sweet to know that Benny will probably be able to visit us in the U.S. this summer.
It was good to see Jana’s home and Benny’s home in Germany before we left Europe. It was good and often hilarious to spend time with Kelly, Michael, Niqui, Jordan, Mikey, Wes, Caleb, Kelly, Erica and Cait over the summer. While good, it often struck me how much we missed out on while being away from Greenville. What seems to be the biggest loss is missing out on the daily lives of my friends. But now, at times, it also feels like a loss to not be in Norway. When you’ve put roots down in multiple places, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss out on something. Yet I don’t want to stop putting my roots down in every place I go because those roots make life good.
Several times I found it quite frustrating to be living at my parents house as a married adult. I felt like I was acting like a kid in the house because I had only been a kid in that house. But I wanted to act like and be treated like an adult. I was often most frustrated because I kept being asked to do chores, which felt pretty childish. I knew how to do chores and take care of a home, but I just didn’t want to be pestered about it. Thankfully my parents care about our relationship so they worked with me on how to live together given this new territory (me being an adult). I realized after a while that I was unsure about how to relate to my parents now that I’m an adult, have lived on my own for a year and am married. I was used to being closest to my parents, but now I am closest to Josh. That’s a good thing, but I was sad to realize that I didn’t need to rely on my parents as much any more. I do still rely on them, though, and they are definitely necessary to my life. Being at home was frustrating at times, but also immensely comforting most of the time. It was good to spend so much time with my parents and to live our daily lives together again. Some of my favorite parts of summer were eating meals on our back porch, playing cards, taking evening walks and watching “Orange is the New Black.”
As I’m taking time to reflect on my summer, I am increasingly thankful for the time I had with Josh in Norway. Thankful that we grew closer to one another, that we made so many good friends, and that I see ways in which God was with us in Norway. I am also so thankful for our time in Greenville. Reconnecting with friends and family (grandparents, cousins and aunts included) was reinvigorating. As I think back on our start in Norway I recognize that God was with us and that now, as we start life in Wichita, God is still with us. For that I am also thankful.