Together with David and our four kiddos (they’re now ages 6, 4, 2, and a newborn), I relocated to Phoenix from the San Francisco Bay Area last month. This mirrors the transition we made as a family two years prior. Except this time has been somehow much more seamless while being simultaneously more painful.
Two years ago, we moved from our hometown in Michigan, across the country, with a newborn baby, to a place where we hardly knew anyone. Thankfully, David’s brother lived there. I also had a few ministry colleagues in the area, and a new job lined up. Adjacent to my new place of work, the cozy blue house that we moved into required a new level of accessibility to our surrounding community.
I could describe settling into California as I describe Bay Area highways: noisy, crowded, interconnected, with breathtaking scenery.
This year, again we had a baby, and again we moved to a new state where we knew hardly anyone. Our work schedule is completely adaptable now, since we’ve stepped away from all other professional commitments to focus solely on my music career. There’s plenty of space in our Arizona home for our growing family, and our backyard is exceptionally quiet and secluded. And yet, the way I miss California is unparalleled.
I miss the rolling hills. I miss the romantic mist in the morning. I miss the smell of fresh flowers during every season, the cool Bay breeze, the warm sun. The rainbow of ethnicity, language, and culture. The spirit of openness and ingenuity. The Catholic missions that shaped the history of the region. How most cities are named after saints and angels. Of everything, I miss our friends the most.
In California, for the first time in 7 years of marriage, David and I formed our group of friends together. See, back where we grew up in Michigan, most of our beloved friendships were forged in our youth. Even though many of those friends overlapped, they began when we were single. Our experience in the Bay Area was quite different.
This particular group of friends grew out of our ministry at our church. David and I were part of the “birth” of this new family of friends, so to speak. It was strengthening for us as individuals, and edifying for our marriage. And I believe the love between us all was the presence of God. Others recognized it, too, without needing any explanation.
For example, a young man who moved to our neighborhood from another country, came to pray and talk with our group of friends. During his first attendance at our young adult group, he turned to me with a huge smile and said, “I like this... feeling.” Our community was his first experience with Christianity. That night, he decided to join the Catholic Church. He’s planning to come into the Catholic Church on Easter. Perhaps he didn’t know the details of our beliefs yet, but he could sense the love that we share.
One of our Amanda Vernon Patrons left a beautiful comment this week that speaks the truth of my recent experience. In response to my newest episode of In Real Life, Dick Safranski wrote, among other things, “The deeper you love, the more loss you can feel.”
If you’re reading this, Mr. Safranski, thank you for the truthful and touching words!
It would require many more pages of text to explain the many ways our Bay Area friends blessed our lives during the past two years. That bond doesn’t go away with the distance between us. It definitely hurts to be apart, though. I’m grateful for a smooth start to our newest adventure, and I’m also thankful for the sweetness that’s felt in this sense of loss.