Welcome to SLO; Chapter IV, The Simplest Revelation
Chapter four. It’s mid-spring. And chapter four means I’m rounding third and on the sprint home to wrap up an entire year in my new home of San Luis Obispo. My new home that continues to be a sky-covered sanctuary in a string of small cultured cities and beach towns with ocean boulevards fit for strolling. And I’ve done a lot of strolling in the last six months. Along sandy beaches and through the Colorado Rockies, in leaf-covered parks in Chico and downtown at Farmers like I’ve enjoyed doing since the beginning of my adventures here. Enough hand-in-hand strolling in fact that I lost track of time and forgot to make it home for dinner and to write chapter three. But the handholding was worth it. Totally worth it. So I’ve been caught up in the strolling and in all the big changes that keep rolling in one after another like the tide at Avila. And as I’m learning that no matter what I do the tide will in fact continue to roll in on schedule, I’m learning to freak out a little less when the big changes do occur. So here’s to the big changes and to the friends that continue to root themselves deeper and deeper into my life like sturdy oak trees. I’m learning to embrace them both.
Every morning around 10:00am the fog kisses the roof tops of San Luis Obispo goodbye as it rises heavenward to reveal Madonna Mountain and Bishop’s Peak still standing in the golden glow of the rising California sun; still bidding me to come and climb. And on the days when I am far too preoccupied to accept their invitation to fellowship and run upward through the gentle waves of green grass, they are steady in reminding me of what I love to do; reminding me of what I was born to do; and reminding me that it’s the simple luxury of those who find the time to pursue it. And it’s similar thinking with God. I moved here almost a year ago to climb. And that’s what I’ve been reflecting on as of late. I didn’t come all this way just to gaze upon a majestic mountain and gawk in jealousy of the tenacity of those who manage to experience the beauty up close. I moved here to climb; to make it to the top myself and to know God. And a month ago when the calendar declared that winter was officially over I did two things: 1) I threw my winter boots back in the closet and painted my toes that familiar cheery shade of Cabana Sunset Pink (Because despite what everyone told me, California does in fact get cold enough for winter boots at times). 2) I finally reached out and grabbed a handful of springtime and the brilliant revelation that nobody in my life is forcing me to climb. It’s just the simple luxury of those who find the time to pursue it.
Last week I decided that I will in fact be staying in San Luis Obispo. Technically I had been planning on that for a while, but it’s different when suddenly the decision demands an answer. So I will be signing another year-long lease. And I will not be moving back to Spokane. Last week I decided this after an over-dramatic cry-fest in the car next to my special-friend turned boyfriend, Jon, who is patient and kind like Sunday afternoons. However this decision to remain stationed here is significant for me. It’s simple. But it’s simple only after I work through the complicated. Because I realized that if I do in fact remain here and not move away, it will be the first time in my life that I choose to persevere through a difficult situation and not run away from my problems to a place where the grass is always greener…at first. Because this year has been incredible and full of awe-struck moments of joy like blowing bubbles. Yet, it’s similar to eating a cala lily flower: meaning that you can drink in a vibrant orange sunset with your eyes next to your special friend on Shell Beach, feel excited when he picks you a perfect white cala lily from the side of the path on the walk back to the truck, but when you take a bite out of the petal just to be cute, you get a thousand microscopic calcium crystals lodged into the membranes of your mouth and throat and end up with poison control on the line while sitting outside the ER just in case you stop breathing. So while this year has been incredible, and unforgettable, and epic, I’ve had a few “cala lily moments”. Moments where my impulsive nature, or unhindered passion as I like to call it, has landed me in situations that sting a little. Situations that I think would be easier just to move away from, rather than wait around in the parking lot until everything feels normal again. But this is exactly why it’s so important that I stay. So I’m pleased to say that God is in fact still changing me and getting me even more accustomed to the narrow path. Because the narrow path, I’ve heard, leads me straight home. And a home is what I’ve always wanted and where I’m determined now to stay.
On Wednesday October 29 I wrote my Two Weeks Notice on a sheet of white computer paper and hung it in the back office of Abercrombie & Fitch at 10:00 a.m. Because I had officially decided that I had breathed my last congested breath of Fierce and was ready for whatever was next…even though I didn’t really know what was next…which is why it was risky…risky like buying a one-way-ticket to California…so I went for it! And the timing was perfect. My boss, Phil, was leaving two weeks after me to move north and take a job as a youth pastor and with that in mind I couldn’t help but begin to view the building with the booming music and low lighting as an artificial cave that I dreaded entering each day. Because a lot of changes had taken place in me, and in my surroundings and the truth is that I just wasn’t finding life there anymore. So I took a risk and threw my job out the window where it quickly befriended other lost jobs in the plummeting economy and I began working full-time selling newspaper subscriptions outside local grocery stores and spending my free time trying to convince my mother that everything in my financial situation would in fact be okay – even though at times I wasn’t sure of it myself. And the best part about it all was that my new supervisor at the newspaper also happened to be the object of my romantic affection, which helped me to appreciate my situation even more. So I spent the rest of November, December and a little bit of January in a strange kind of limbo where I discovered that having a sales job is the equivalent to having the super power of invisibility. Because I swear about seventy-percent of people I smile at, never smile back and on a good day only half of the people who walk by pretend I don’t even exist. But on a positive note, the job with the newspaper did allow me take off as much time as I wanted, whenever I wanted, which came in handy around the holiday season where some important stuff needed to take place. And in early February God moved me into the job I’d been waiting for: a position as an event coordinator/administrative assistant at the local Christian radio station: K-LIFE FM. So things really do look different; and if I wore my ripped A&F jeans and skimpy tank tops to work at the radio station I’d most definitely be sent home to change. But that job is part-time so I still sell the paper and I still work one shift per week at Abercrombie because I’m convinced God isn’t finished there yet. And I’m getting used to the blouses and high heels and to the six foot tall gray, carpet-covered beauty-blockers, more commonly referred to as a cubicle, that surround my desk and come between me and the window. And I’m getting used to the friendly faces that peek their heads out from behind the grayness every so often to pour some sunshine into my day and to the new responsibilities that still feel awkward, like wakeboarding for the first time. But I’m thankful that my job isn’t the only worthwhile endeavor in my life because people who feel that way never tend to be very happy. So I’m trying to remain focused on my growing family at Mercy Church, the Lighthouse girls who are currently on the verge of sailing across town to a smaller, taller, more cost-effective version of the Lighthouse, on God’s increasing call on my life to live like I know him, and on Jon…
When I was born my dad was waist deep into hunting. He spent his weekends pursuing his hobby with his two loyal Brittany dogs – traveling around in the pick up and coming home with stories and dead pheasant and quail. And when I turned four, my dad gave me a whistle that he hung around my neck with a string, and lifted me into the truck where I sat in the middle seat as we drove down the highway out of town, towards the open meadows full of game. And when he was ready, he’d signal me to blow the whistle, releasing the dogs to begin their pursuit. Then shortly after I turned five my dad moved to Canada. But back in September last year I began riding around in the middle seat again. Began regaining my place as someone’s right hand girl. The truck was black and his hair was blonde and similar to me, his favorite thing to do is called spontaneous, making things like walks on the un-beaten path during lunch breaks and steadily fulfilling our lifelong goal of eating at every restaurant on the Central Coast a regular occurrence. And by the time we visited Loveland, Colorado to spend New Year’s with his family, I had already been living there for a few months anyway, figuratively speaking of course. And the holidays were like a high-end five course meal this year. Between visiting Pullman and Spokane and driving twenty-some hours back down through California in my new car, I got to revisit some old places and wade through breathtakingly new ones alongside my new best friend and self-identified climbing partner. We spent the last few days of 2008 eating red meat, watching family home movies, and running around quaint little Loveland complete with a handful of funky sculpture gardens and a frozen lake we got to skate across in our snow boots. And it was perfect: even though I dropped the $40 bottle of red wine onto the sidewalk when we were already running late for a beautiful dinner his mom had prepared. And when holiday season ended, I returned to my SLO life with the solidified conviction of heart that I’m no longer content in climbing by myself. Because everything is better when he’s around. And without him I’m stuck cruising around in the driver’s seat with only my own bony shoulder to lean on, daydreaming about him anyway.
But in the midst of afternoons in front of the computer and answering the telephone with “Thank you for calling K-LIFE FM and 890AM, how can I help you?” God is demonstrating to me his faithfulness because I can feel him moving me into things more permanent in all areas of my life. And this is the truth that has kept me here for almost a year now; here in San Luis Obispo; here at Mercy church; here in the Lighthouse with my roommates; and here in this new and beautiful place with God. And I’m learning that my ability to stay here has nothing to do with my abilities, but with His. So because He is good, and because He is steady, and because He is determined to keep me, I am still here. Still experiencing his love and goodness and growing into the person I was always destined to become. And I’m still working on a real smile; one that isn’t easily wiped away like red marker on a whiteboard, which is the challenge I’m facing right now. Because a few months back I found myself beached: no longer riding the wave of excitement of living in a new place with new people and a new beginning. And the hard part comes now as the question is begged everyday: will you keep climbing?
Every evening the fog drops like a final curtain call, resting again upon the rooftops, covering them like a safe blanket for the night. And all the happy townspeople of San Luis Obispo curl up in their PJs, tuck their children into bed, and they wait for a revolution to come. So I’ll continue being a part of the change I want to see. And I’ll continue to climb.
PS – and as of yesterday my hair is back to blonde.