Monday, August 26, 2013

"How is school?"

About a hundred people have asked me that thus far this year. Asking how school is going is one of those questions that people ask as the standard array of questions about people's lives. You know the one's I'm talking about? "How's life? How's school? How's the wife/husband/significant other?" I don't doubt that people are genuinely curious, but I don't always have time to explain exactly what happens.

There is a good reason for this. This year was not so hot. Last year I was working at a job that revolved around a community of people who were working with the goal of bring others the news of Christ. I found the work I did fulfilling and interesting and I felt like I was a valuable member of the team. I also got to live with my parents (who by the way are both super awesome) and got to spend time with some friends that were too often far away. It was a good year.

This year was not as good. My residence room which was home for most of the year was small and uncomfortable. We actually had to duct tape the seams of the windows in the winter because the heating couldn't keep up with the drafts. I started a job that took me an hour away from school for 25 hours a week (plus the 8 or so hours of transit time back and forth. The combination of work and homework left me with little time free for other people. I spent a lot of time outside of work either alone or with Amanda. 

I got a job because I needed money to pay for school, but money meant that I couldn't spend time with people. Spending time with people is the whole reason I got into pastoral ministry in the first place and so taking that away made me miserable for most of the year. I didn't see how to get out of the cycle of feeling miserable.

Some people told me I should probably quit work. This was some kind of revelation when it was first suggested. Amanda and I got married this year which meant my student loan was now large enough to pay for all my school fees. Quitting work meant less money, but I could survive without it. This past week I took a deep breath and told my boss that I would be leaving at the end of September. I'm a little sad to be leaving. I work with good people and I know that things can be hard there sometimes. I've also learned so much in my time there that I hadn't known before. It was a good job, but it's time to move on.

So to answer your original question, school this past year was lonely and busy but things are looking up for this coming year.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Do you ever get homesick?"

Hello new reader. Or at least I assume you must be a new reader if you're asking these kinds of questions. After all, asking that question implies that you missed an three month trip to California that was followed by the sweetest homecoming I have ever experienced.

I will give you the benefit of the doubt here. I get homesick. I get incredible homesick. I get so homesick that I can't sleep the night before I'm heading home because sleep comes so slowly when I am away from home and it seems quicker to wake up and just wait for it instead of trying to fall asleep. Plus sleep means the possibility of dreaming of being home and those are dreams that are just too cruel to wake from.

I've moved 6 times in the last 5 years though so what is home even anymore? Where do I get homesick? When I was a kid, I used to get homesick at summer camp or at the cottage. I'd miss my friends and my toys. I would miss the familliar rooms and senses of my parents house and my own bed. Foreign textures kept me up at night in a state of anxiety. I needed to get back home so I could have the things and people that I knew back. I needed to get back to a place where I understood everything. I don't understand things away from home very much.

I'm meandering. Home can be anywhere familiar. After a year of full time work, camp feels like home (although that feeling is fading now that I'm not there very much). After a few short months there, my apartment on princess street felt like home in Kingston. My current apartment in Toronto with my wife felt like home before I ever moved there. I could go on. My residence room never felt like home.

But I should get to a definition. All of these places share somthing. All of them are places and people that let me be who I am without putting up all the guards and walls. When I can sit at home with the door open and no anxiety about who might walk through the door, that is home. When I can sit down and play guitar without fear of someone yelling at me through the wall, that is home. When I can talk to anyone home at a given time, that is home.

Home is the place with the people who let you express yourself most completely. All of your broken, confused, and lovely characteristics on display for all to see. That's what I get sick for.