There are days–and for this extrovert, they are few and far between–but there are days when it is vaguely raining and I am warm in a well-lit room and I have coffee and peanut butter toast and all I want is to be left alone forever with books and music and myself.
Zack and I are moving into San Francisco this weekend. We always seem to pick rainy weekends to move; what that might mean I’ll leave up to your interpretation.
If life is a story meant to be lived with God, in one way or another, then movement is inevitable. I can’t stay locked up in my room forever with my books and my mind; not if I ever want to get anywhere. Not somewhere fancy, not even somewhere ‘next,’ because the motion isn’t always forward or backward or left or right, it is just motion. And that is good, because it is hard to grow without some sort of motion.
But it is also shitty, and I will tell you why. It is shitty because, when you are the kind of person who finds security in things staying the same, all you want is for things to stay the same. There is not much adventure there, no, and not much growth, and perhaps the security I find in unchanging circumstances is only illusory. But I am good at living in illusion, at living in perceived security.
The first time I remember an acute episode of anxiety–not a panic attack, although those were still ahead of me–was walking home after my first day of second grade. I was caught in a throng of students all going the same direction, moving toward their homes, talking and laughing with each other, and in that moment I became utterly convinced that I would never make friends during my entire elementary school career and that once I got home, my parents would have left for a new life, for a new place that offered a better life than they had with my needy self. That particular thread of anxiety stayed with me for years. Even in my teens, when my parents were five minutes late coming home from a church function or a dinner, I was convinced that they had skipped town to leave the three of us kids to fend for ourselves.
Clearly, anxiety is not rooted in reality.
Clearly, I am still crazy.
Who isn’t, I suppose, is the best response here. But anxiety sneaks up and isolates before I can make connections, so that all I want in the face of change is to shut myself in my room.
We decided about a month ago to move to San Francisco for a number of reasons. Zack’s company is opening a sales office downtown. He is in sales. Zack loves San Francisco; I like it. We have a number of close friends from college who live in the city, including Zack’s best friend. We have lived in Palo Alto these last three years largely because of me, at first, and then out of convenience for both of our jobs. But now, I am at school and doing freelance work, so my office is wherever I make it. The logistical pieces make sense; unfortunately, things making sense does nothing to assuage anxiety. And the worst trick of anxiety–the ace up its sleeve–is its ability to make you think you are entirely alone in the world. Surely no one has ever felt like you do, you tell yourself! Everyone else is confident and self-assured and moves through transition like an acrobat, with the greatest of ease.
Some of you may be able to relate to this, and some of you may think I’m crazy. That’s okay. So are you, in your own way.
Because the anxiety I’m experiencing now is centered, at its base, around the question “Where is my home?”, I think almost hourly of the part in Psalm 90 where David says “Lord, you have been our dwelling place.” Teresa of Avila (I think it’s her) also says something about making for yourself two homes–one physical, and one spiritual, that you can carry with you everywhere you go. And I suppose, more than anything, that is what I want right now.