A Guest Blog by Christine Hallenbeck Ask
At the onset of middle school, it was fear of the permeating adolescent mosh pit. In high school, it was fear of random clarinet memorization testing. In college, it was fear of identity: both losing and finding myself, preferably in a field with a high job placement rate.
Fresh off of a thousand-mile move, it’s safe to say that even at age 31, transitions are still among my top five greatest enemies. Moves in homes or jobs inevitably jolt relationships and routines, both of which happen to be among my top five besties. There’s nothing I like better than inside jokes with family-like friends and an always-accessible mental map of nearby happy hour fares.
In new places, everyone is a stranger and every place is unknown. To habitualized eyes such as mine, even people who look nice and doors that look welcoming can seem mysterious—or worse, scary. Personalities and menus are terrifyingly foreign until met or Googled (gasp, the inconvenience!).
But now that the boxes are nearly unpacked and several local hot spots have been sampled, I’m building a menu of wise nuggets for my future self during any move she may face, lest she once again wallow in fear of another life transition:
Learn about your new home. Explore the parks, study the history books, run the trails, read the menus, talk to your neighbors. You will uncover what people love about this place, why they have stayed here for six months or 60 years. These stories will help you come to love this place and what it has meant for the strangers you now call neighbors.
Your new town will sell ice cream. There is always ice cream. You will not need to learn how to churn it by hand.
You will miss your friends and the old familiar haunts you’ve established with them. You will miss having people laugh at your foibles; you will miss having people who know your foibles. You can never replace the history and comfort of these relationships. They are a gift. But phones will still work both ways. Use them. Meanwhile, meet new people and discover their foibles as they discover yours.
Your new town will have the perfect coffee shop. Or diner. Or some place to sit and read and write. You will find it.
Believe it or not, future self, a move is an opportunity. (You are only allowed to say this to yourself. If anyone else says this to you, you will cry.) Starting over in a new place forces attentiveness that you tend to let slide in places of familiarity. In your new place you will notice the smells, the textures, the view. You will suddenly want to read local authors. You will be adventurous because it will be the only way to find the ice cream. You will surprise yourself with your own courage.
Finally, nothing will be worse than the adolescent mosh pit. Those days are over.
Christine Hallenbeck Ask is a graduate of Luther Seminary,
and a budding barista in Bozeman, MT, where she lives
with her husband Jonathan.