I realized this morning that it has been two months since I returned from my road trip. I honestly cannot believe it has been a full two months — a sentence usually followed by a photo of a baby wearing a “2 mo.” sign or a regram of a couple’s wedding photo. In my case, it’s just been a whirlwind period of time in my general life. In fact, this whole year has whizzed by, and I’m dizzy from circling around trying to figure out what to do if I were to stop spinning.
For Christmas last year, Nathan gave me a trip to Puerto Rico. Seriously, he’s the best. I’ll leave the sap here, but I’ll say it again, he really is the best. So in January, we took to the sky and landed in San Juan. We walked through Old San Juan, ate amazing mofongo, listened to the ocean crash against the shore, and hiked through a rain forest.
We returned to New York City, where we continued to live for a few more months and where we decided that the city was just too expensive. [I would like to add here that we loved living in New York. Our reasons for leaving were purely financial/work-related. If I could afford to live there comfortably without having to work myself to death, I would. I did feel “at home” living there and made some incredible friends in the city. I miss it every day.]
We moved back to Jackson, Tennessee at the beginning of April for a temporary stay as we explore the idea of living in another new city.
As you may have noticed from my blog, we took an amazing road trip at the end of April, starting in St. Louis, driving through Kansas, stopping in Denver, picking back up by hitting a few National Parks (Arches, Canyonlands, and the Grand Canyon), camping and freezing in Monument Valley, sweating in Phoenix, resting in Dallas, and finally returning home. We visited cities Nathan and I had never visited, ate like the locals, visited some friends and family, and explored and explored and explored.
The road trip ended in mid-May, and I was lucky enough to land a temporary job to hold myself over for the next couple of months while Nathan and I looked for new jobs in a new cities (and our search is still underway.)
I cannot continue to describe the rest of this first half of 2017 without stopping to say that God is at work. He’s always at work, but I feel like He’s guiding me in ways for which I’ll be thankful for the rest of my life.
As we planned to move back to Tennessee, I was excited to spend some quality time with my grandparents. My dad’s parents, both 97 years old, and my mom’s parents, both 94, were doing well, but I had not seen them since my very quick trip home for Christmas. I visited both sets of grandparents and told them all about my adventures. Then I took off again, this time for our road trip adventure.
A few weeks after we returned from the West, my grandpa, Tom (97), began complaining about his back, and his doctor discovered some spots on his back following an x-ray. At the time, we weren’t sure if he had an infection or cancer. A week or so later, he fell and broke his hip. He grew ill in the hospital and nearly a week after his surgery, he passed away. I could easily have been living 1,000 miles away, where my most recent visit I would have seen him on Christmas Day. Thank God and praise God that I was able to spend some quality time with him while he was still in good health. I’m not even sure how to thank Him for that special time. My grandpa was a character, full of travel stories and terrible jokes. Occasionally, he would call me while I was in New York to tell me about how he could take a train from Manhattan to Coney Island for five cents when he was stationed in Long Island. He and my grandma were married for 74 years. I feel equally as grateful that I’m able to be here to spend time with her.
The week following his funeral, I traveled with Nathan’s family to Figure Eight Island, North Carolina, where we enjoyed a week at the beach. One photo my grandpa was particularly proud of was taken beside the North Carolina state sign standing next to his motorcycle. A few years ago, he wrote out the details from his trip from 1939 and asked me to type it out [pictured]. So when we crossed the state line, I decided to get my own picture with a state sign.
For 30 years, I had all four of my grandparents. My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by a family who knows when to love, when to laugh, when to advise, when to work, and when to rest. I have a God who loves me unconditionally, and sometimes I’m not sure why. Even when I forget about my faith, even when I’m confused about the church and its followers, even when I act before thoughtfully praying over my decisions, He continues to catch me. I feel like He’s been catching me a lot lately and that I don’t deserve His help at all. I hope that in these coming months, years, and onward, I can give back to Him as He has given to me.
As long as this post is, I’m leaving a lot of trials and challenges to myself. This has not been an easy year. It’s been exciting, but it’s also been difficult. Six months into the year and I feel like I’ve never experienced so much personal growth, particularly unintentional personal growth, and I am no where near finished growing. My current challenge is finding a job (and relocating), which I am hoping will be Part B of 2017.