It’s my own fault really. I’ve none to blame but myself.
I left California nearly 2 years ago of my own free will. And I knew the sacrifices.
Between 2003 and 2004 I’d seen a few bits of the winters here in Chicago and deemed them not too horrific.
Now I’ve been back for two full winters (more specifically 1 whole winter and 2 half-winters) and I’m not regretting my choice.
It’s not all sunshine and roses. It’s not even overcast and roses sometimes. Or thistles and storm clouds. But it’s always onward.
And that is good.
Grace and I just wrapped up our final wedding reception, just in time to start contemplating baby showers. We traveled to California to meet my previous church and old friends and the west-coast family who were unable to reach the wedding in Texas.
It was good to be back with many people who I’ve spent much time with and among. It was comfortable and I felt rather younger, less responsible. But it was different too. I have a wife now beside me and I had a responsibility to her and to us beyond my responsibility to anyone else, even my immediate family.
My family is good in that they do not force me to choose between them and Grace. They know where my responsibility is and encourage me in it.
My mother was taken back when I asked for my baby book and “Babie’s 1st Year” calendar, but took it as a sign Grace and I were taking seriously our impending parenthood.
Woodland is a small town. With small dreams.
It is not a bad town, and if I had strong enough ties outside of Woodland I would feel comfortable raising my children while they are young there among many trustworthy people.
But the small dreams wrap their comfortable tentacles around many, sucking and sucking until the unthinkable is normal and the dreams of our youth are just that, dreams.
My dad maintained an incurable optimism, not in a foolish sense, but never discouraging our deepest, strongest and broadest dreams. Reunions back home are often filled with deep discussion of the latest knowledge and wisdom acquired throughout our times apart.
And even those of my family who remain in Woodland are still free of much of the entrapment of it’s comfortable crevaces.
Even though I’d made more strong friends in the last two years back than I’d had much of my life previously. Friends who were from near, but not in Woodland. Friends who had big dreams becoming big plans, friends who’d come a long way and though they’d not arrived, they were moving onward too.
I had a vision. Not really a concrete dream or even a plan.
I felt, with more conviction than most other things I’ve felt, that I had to be in Chicago.
And God met me there, where He’d called me.
Grace was here too.
While in California, I pondered why I’d left all these comfortable and gracious friends and family.
I left because it was the right thing to do.
“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” ~Jesus (Luke 9:62)
Friends and family I know and love back in California, in the warm weather, will forever occupy and close and dear place in my heart, but my dreams lie before me and I cannot turn back.
Not even for warm weather.