on traveling & staying put

We didn’t mean for this to be the summer of travel–it’s just kind of how it happened. In the months of June and July I slept in my own bed approximately ten times. We went on our honeymoon (three years late) to Europe. We had a picnic on top of a hill in Nice, climbed a mountain in the French Alps, went to a gorgeous open-air market in Barcelona, biked along the river in Lyon, and ate amazing food in Paris. When we got back to the states, David left for Chicago and I went to Austin, where I had so much fun with my sister Hannah, trying new restaurants, kayaking the Colorado River, and swimming in Barton Springs. Then I met David in Chicago, where we saw the Robie House, played in Millennium Park, and went to 10 bookstores in 6 days.

We had an early morning flight from Chicago to Birmingham and as we rode the L to the airport, we could see the sun rising over the city. It was so pretty. I kept thinking about a story that one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, tells about her brother. He took a year and sailed all the way around the world with a friend. People would often tell him how brave that was… and he would respond, “you know what’s brave? Staying put and making a meaningful life.”

Traveling is fun. Sometimes it’s frustrating (like when you have to wait 30 minutes for a bus late at night, the AC doesn’t work in your AirBnB, or someone steals your cell phone in Paris), but mostly it’s really fun. I’m thankful for this beautiful world and the privilege to see bits and pieces of it. But so much more than that, I’m thankful for the life we’re making here in Birmingham, in our tiny townhouse with the old brown carpet smack in the middle of a big public housing development. I’m thankful for home, for community… a place to come back to, dig into, and work hard for.

Staying put and making a meaningful life is not usually sexy or photogenic. It looks a lot like doing dishes, taking people to the airport, having hard conversations, and doing one more thing, even when you feel real tired. But when I think about the best, deepest experiences of my life, that’s right where they happened… in the glorious mundanity of everyday life. So whether you went halfway around the world this summer or spent it at home, know this: the bravest thing you can do is dig your heels in and make a meaningful life, wherever you are.

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