Yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind series of emotions.
I work from home- a definitely luxury that I am super grateful for- but one of the the biggest complaints about working remotely in the way I do is the loneliness associated with it. If I don’t get out of the house, I might end up spending the whole day alone, talking only to my dog.
On Friday, I got home after almost three weeks away. This meant being away from my home, my routine, my spaces, C, and my dog. For a habit junkie like me, this trip really pushed my personal limits on time away from home. When I came home on Friday, I relished the day- my home, the lack of other people, the cuddles with Bo, my couch, and the silence. It was wonderful.
I made my way through the chores that would help me feel like I was really back at home. I unpacked; read; washed, folded, and put away laundry; washed dishes; took out the trash; went through the mail; and just generally got the house to my standard. And, I did it all without interacting with other people. This introverted extrovert was grateful for the recharge opportunity.
By the time Saturday rolled around, I knew I had to get out of the house. I went to the 10 AM class at the gym, saw people I hadn’t seen since I left, and that was that. I got out of the house, but an hour of my hour and a half away from home was spent out of breath, pushing myself. Few interactions.
Saturday night, as I got situated for bed, I felt like I was going crazy because I kept hearing things. Bo was barking up a storm (unusual for him), and I didn’t really have the bedtime routine down yet, so I kept finding myself jumping up to any and every sound. I don’t remember the last time I was so antsy before going to bed. I made sure to say some extra prayers before throwing on an episode of Planet Money.
Which brings me to yesterday…
A friend of mine suggested a new church a couple of weeks ago- right before I left, actually. It’s a bit far, so I haven’t gotten the chance to get out there yet on a Sunday morning. With no one else to worry about, though, I thought I’d make the effort to go, since I actually really enjoy going to Church by myself.
I woke up super early and did a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I showered, got ready, and by the time I looked up, I was flustered to get into the car, sure that I was running insanely late. By the time I put the address in the GPS, it was telling me I was going to be at best 15 minutes late. #bummer
I decided not to go; it wasn’t going to be worth it to drive 35 minutes to be 15 minutes late into an hour-long service. Since I was already in my car, I decided to take it for a much-needed oil change. It’s about 815 AM by the time I get to the oil change place, only to find out that ugh, it’s not open on Sundays.
Giving up, I decide to drive home. On the drive, I noticed a church that I pass every day to and from the gym. I pull into the parking lot to find that they don’t have a service for a while. Feeling pretty much defeated, I remembered that there’s another church a little bit a ways down the road that has services every hour or so on Sundays. Fine, I’ll give it a go, I think.
I make a U-Turn and do exactly that. When no one recognizes me, a member of their volunteer team welcomes me to the community and gives me a mug (how nice!). I go into the prayer area and read the book I brought with me, which happens to be relevant, as I’m reading on the biblical foundations of boundaries. (But also, I really like to go to church early to read. No one interrupts you.)
The service was totally different from the kind of service I’m used to. I’m a Roman Catholic- I’m used to a certain structure and this was not that. I wanted some Jesus, though, and that’s what I got. It was nice. As I was leaving, I was really shocked by the number of people who wished me well and invited me back into the service.
After the service, I headed to the neighborhood Walmart. I had placed an order the day before to be picked up between 10 and 11 AM and this was it. Because I’m mostly eating through my pantry over the next couple of days, it wasn’t anything big. My $35 of groceries was two frozen pizzas (one for me to eat this week and one for me to leave in the freezer for when Casey comes home because I know he’ll be happy it’s there), the protein nut milk from Silk that I’m super digging, garbage bags, minced garlic, pancake syrup, and a couple of frozen dinners from Tastefully Plated. Nothing special, but between that and what’s in the house, I expect to be able to feed myself until I go adventuring again!
I came home, unloaded groceries, and baked Jiffy corn muffins that were in the pantry only to realize that my kitchen sink was clogged. Great.
Just before noon, I left the house to go run the rest of the errands I had planned for the day. After time abroad, I was reminded of the power of a battery pack (something I don’t have) and that I needed to get one. I headed out to Best Buy and bought this one. It’s pretty intuitive but didn’t come with a charging block.
Afterwards, I headed to the mall. I needed to take my engagement ring back to the story where Casey bought it so that I could get it resized. After the nice lady helped me figure out which size ring worked best (way smaller than I thought it’d be tbh), I realized I was ahead of schedule. I perused the mall a little, splurging on a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s. (I promise you, you’ve never met someone who loves all forms of dough more than I do.) I saw a cute decorative block that said “The Best Is Yet To Come” and I picked it up. This and that.
With all my errands done, I headed to post. One of C’s friends was coming back from 9 months in Iraq. His fiancee is a dear friend of mine. I’ve spent lots of nights on her living room couch over the last 9 months, and she’s learned to cuddle with Bo on mine.
There are a lot of these going on right now (or maybe it just feels like it). It feels like in this phase of life, those around me are celebrating reunions instead of mourning goodbyes. For that, I am grateful.
More specifically, though, I am grateful for the safe return of this dear friend to the US, to his family, and, most especially, to his fiancee, who deserves nothing more than all the happiness and love in the world. I was honored when she asked me to be there yesterday.
It was my first time at one of those things. I don’t really know what to call it- return from deployment ceremonies? Whatever the case, I know that yesterday is a day, a series of moments, that I’ll be holding in my heart for a long time.
That first moment when the formation started coming in and all the excitement in the room could be felt like sparks going through the air. The palpability was undeniable.
That moment when she saw her fiancee for the first time in 9 months. “I see him! I see him!” she cheered as her smile grew so wide it could light up the whole room.
That moment when he spotted her from the formation and had to work really hard to not smile the whole time.
Finally, when they got to hug and kiss for the first time in nine months- a moment I got to capture on camera for the two of them!- and it was so beautiful I could have melted into a puddle on the floor.
In this life stage of my own longing, I got to be there and not only see but also feel- through participation and sharing- this reunion between two people who love each other so very much; all of this feeling, of course, was only magnified by the fact that these are two human beings who mean so much to me.
I am so very grateful for the moments I share with other people through my day-to-day. From the nice people who let me into their church, to the wonderful woman who helped me with my groceries or the guy who gave me a fresh pretzel, from the lady who was patient while I decided on a ring size to a dear friend who was reunited with the love of her life, thank you strangers and friends for sharing your life with me.