David and I have been talking about moving since before we got married. At first the mere idea made me feel like kicking and screaming. I have incredible job opportunities here, (some of) my family is here, our friends are here, we love our neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine leaving it all. But as the weeks turned into months, my heart got softer to the idea. I’ve always wanted David to have the opportunity to learn in a classroom at a school he really wanted to attend. Finally, one day in January we were eating breakfast, and I said, “David, do you think we’re going to move this summer?” & he said “yes” and I said “me too.” Even though it decided nothing, it felt really final.
Eight hours after that breakfast conversation, we were driving home from our favorite sushi place. As we pulled onto Duling we spotted my little brother standing in the middle of the street. We yelled hey and rolled down the window and he told us that tonight was a concert we had completely forgotten about. We went home and changed and came back up to Duling to see friends and hear Seryn.
That night the room felt so full… and not just because lots of people were packed in to hear a great band. The room was overflowing with beautiful music, with precious friends, with love and joy. I sat in the middle of two chairs, squeezed tight between my husband and my sister. Our little brother was at the front of the crowd with friends from the college we all went to. Our friends from small group were spread all around the room, listening and laughing.
I watched the band play, letting the music wash over me, and my mind drifted back to our moving conversation. I thought we would be so crazy to leave this love, this community. We walk to the same coffee shop for breakfast every Saturday. The woman who brings us Gouda grits also cuts our hair (not at the same time). We have a huge network here, both personal and professional. We go to Fondren After Five every month and see dear friends all over the place. Students yell HEY MIZ MOSS from the other side of the street/grocery store on at least a weekly basis.
But then I remembered something that’s easy to forget: it hasn’t always been this way. I first experienced the Jackson area as a scared 18 year old whose parents had just dropped her off in her dorm room. No family, no friends–and no idea how to get anywhere because this was before iPhones. And then fast forward seven years, and I’m sitting in that big beautiful room, full of love and loud music.
We will miss this city we’ve come to love so much. We’ll miss it deeply. We’ll be the scared kids in the dorm room for awhile–no friends, no family, no idea which pizza places are good and which ones suck. (At least we have iPhones now; we can check Yelp.)
But in this season of uncertainty, I keep coming back to the idea that this city, this life… it didn’t drop down from the sky like magic. It started in that lonely dorm room. And what we’ve had these past seven years, well, it’s proof that with the grace of God, a meaningful life can be built, one step at a time. Friends can be made, one meal at a time. Neighbors can become family, one front yard picnic table at a time. Community can be built, one moment of vulnerability at a time. A beautiful, connected, deeply good life can grow anywhere.
I’m preaching this to myself, praying it for myself. I know there will be hard days. But I want to remember, I have to remember that if we want a good life, we’ve gotta dig in our heels and start praying for it, creating it, asking for it, building it. It’s time to start building. We can’t wait. Birmingham, here we come!
David will start at Beeson (Samford’s divinity school) in the fall… and I’m still on the job hunt! If anyone has connections in the Birmingham education world (nonprofits, faith-based organizations, public schools, etc) I’d be so thrilled to chat.