Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reflective trip to the grocery store

I learned some great lessons tonight.  There's something very nice and satisfying about taking time to ponder.  I had never understood it's value before.  But I really see it now.  It's good to look back at different lengths of time in my life and try to make sense of it, try to draw conclusions, try to learn.  Tonight was really great for me in that regard.

I was in the grocery store, meandering the aisles, trying to pick up the necessary ingredients for this weeks menu of delicious dishes.  It's been a roller coaster of 5 months on the east coast.  I've been very blessed.  I've been a wee bit stressed.  While reflecting on the time spent in the area, I'm in the produce section, squeezing the cucumbers, trying to make sure they're just right for my cucumber salad that I have planned to eat tomorrow at lunch.

I've learned so much in the last half year.  I feel like I've been broken down, I feel like I've been built up.  I moved out here with a fearless sense of adventure.  Right off the plane from Africa, nothing seemed more exciting than picking up and moving to the other side of the country, not knowing what awaited me.  I was sure I'd move out here and find a fantastically swanky job, have a fun city social life, be able to afford the wardrobe of my dreams, and have a fun, sassy, single life in a big city.  It makes me laugh now because I realize that all of those things take time.  And that's okay.

The truth is, I was really surprised by how difficult living in my own country could be.  I naively had had the thought (and I can almost quote it), "I've lived in France, Italy and Uganda, how hard could the east coast be?"  Well, only a couple of weeks ago had I put together why it's been difficult.  I could never put my finger on it.  But I figured it out.  In all of the other places I went, I went with a group--we came from the same culture, we went with the same purpose, we experienced the same culture shock, language barriers, struggles, etc.  We knew what we were supposed to do there, we knew when we'd be returning home.  We had someone else that was going through the exact same thing we were going through.  Well moving out here by myself...it's been hard because it's felt very lonely.  I don't have a companion (like in the mission) where when they're struggling, we strengthen each other, we go out, we work hard and know what our purpose is.  I don't have a study abroad roommate who is experiencing the same culture shock, but we study, listen to music from home and go out to explore together.  It's not even like being in Africa--with a group of girls who all felt as unfamiliar with the language and living circumstances, but were sure of their desire to serve and make the lives of those around them better.  It's not that I'm dependent upon other people.  I feel rather independent, in fact.  It's more the idea that I'm the only stranger, the only one that's not settled, for whom this place is not normal everyday life.  It's strange going through that alone.  Arriving here by myself, unsure of exactly what I'm supposed to do and having no idea when I'll be going home.  Somehow I'm supposed to figure out why I'm here on the east coast and what I'm supposed to be doing...all by myself.  haha

By this time, I'm in the section of the grocery store that sells those facial wipes--you know, for those of us that aren't classy enough to wash our faces in the sink before bed.  One of my companions in La Spezia bought them as well and we'd wash our faces while we talked across the room in our beds before falling asleep.  I decide on the apricot scent and remind myself that it's my one splurge for groceries.

I keep trying to pinpoint why living here would be that different.  Well...I miss my life.  Everything about my life has changed...and it's been hard to figure out how to adjust.  I miss having tons of friends around me.  Christmas break filled me with joy because I loved having friends scheduled every day of the week to visit and catch up with.  We laugh our faces off, we adore each other, we share a past, we'll always be friends.  I miss them.  I don't have those here--at least not near as strong of friendships as I have at home...yet.

Missing my family is a given.

I miss the feeling of home.  It's really awkward not knowing where I am.  I need a GPS to get anywhere more than 4 miles away from my home.  But I'm working on it, trying to explore, things will get better.

The new job and housing arrangement is obviously an adjustment.  Naturally starting a new job adds stress and one needs to figure out how to do everything and become comfortable with that adjustment.  I think that's fairly normal and to be expected.  But it just contributes to the lack of familiarity in the my present life.  But it will get better.

By this time, I've checked out at the register, scanned my recently acquired VIC card, which saved me approximately $7--making my apricot facial scrub splurge less of a blow to my wallet, and am now driving home.  I park in front of the house and the once watery eyes have now spilled over and a few crying noises begin.  Oh great. haha  Inside I feel the fight between telling myself to knock it off and allowing myself 15 seconds to be upset.  I give myself 15 seconds.  That's plenty.  I then pull myself together and open my scriptures on my phone.  I had last been reading in 1 Nephi 4 in Italian.  I came across these verses which were just what the doctor ordered.  The ever famous verse 6 but followed by the first 4 words of verse 7.

"And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.  Nevertheless, I went forth"

Oh Mal, you know that you're supposed to be here.  Stop fretting about why.  You're not the first nor the last to be unsure of the path ahead.  Just go forward.  Have faith.  Keep moving.   If you felt good about it and the Spirit led you to be here, than keep moving and go forward.  In time the purpose will be clear, but until then, take heart in the fact that people have faced greater unknowns.  See the good.  Choose to be happy and love each day you are given.

Mmm...okay.  Carried my groceries inside, made some gluten free muffins, and prepare for bed.  Definitely need to thank God, as always, for the comfort given in scriptures.  I'm thankful that I know that everything will be okay, even if my current pathway isn't clearly marked before me.  I'm very berry blessed.  I do love my life and am thankful to be here.  Til next post, Mals


  1. This was just what I needed to read tonight. Thanks!

  2. A good swift kick in the conscience, as always. You're amazing Mal. It's sometimes hard for me to remember that even you can have hard times because you are so solid. I love you. I'm glad you found a bit of comfort. I miss you a lot, but am so happy for you that you get to have this adventure and that you're making your way. Love you.

  3. Loves to you Mal! I love you so dearly and want only the best for you. You are so amazing and have such a great insight. I'm glad you allowed yourself those 15 seconds because sometimes those can help more than we know. I usually take a lot more. :) Love you!