Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Promise

When I made the decision to have a baby on my own, I knew that it would probably mean moving back to my hometown of Phoenix. I had assumed, correctly, that having a baby would seriously limit my funds.

I left the golden state of CA for the deserts of Phoenix on a scorching hot day in July 2001, with my best friend in the passenger seat and my 2 month old baby girl in the back. I cried when I crossed the stateline.

I came back to a place where nothing had changed except the friendships I had forged during my teen years. My youth group friends, who I had spent so much time with in high school, were strangers to me. They didn't know how to react to me, an old friend with a new baby. I remember feeling completely alone.

My high school friends, however, did welcome me back. And because several others of them had also had young kids, we were able to bond over that. But they had never left Phoenix. I don't think they understood my perspective of someone who had left and was forced to return.

That first year of my baby's life was one of the hardest in the sense that I didn't feel like I knew what I was doing and I felt completely alone in my experience.

Your hometown is supposed to be the place you can always come back to, but what if you've changed completely while you were gone?

As I made new friends in Phoenix, many of them new parents and one of them also a single mother, I gradually found a community for me, peppered with a few high school friends from the past. I had my first taste of the career I would later have for 8 years. I slowly collected a variety of regular hang-out spots that my baby and I could frequent.

Then in the Spring of 2002, I decided to apply for a teaching internship in the SF Bay Area. At the time, I really wanted to be back with my college friends in the culturally, ethnically rich city I had left.

I made a plea bargain with God. If He would let me return to the Bay Area, for just this one year, I would return to settle back to Phoenix. Just one year. Being able for my toddler to grow up with her aunties nearby.

Well, I got to live that one year back in the Bay Area. And, it turned out that I even got to go to New York for two years after that. Still, after New York, I found my way back to the Bay Area to San Francisco proper.

San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A city I had taken for granted because I lived so near it in college. Five years of living in San Francisco has spoiled me with its food, weather, and artsy opportunities. And now, when it seems like my life is on the cusp of change again, I'm reminded of my promise in 2002:

"If you let me live back in the Bay Area for just one year, I will come back to Phoenix after that."

2010. Eight years after my promise. I had been living on borrowed time... and I had forgotten my promise.

So, if life does bring me back to my hometown, I feel like I should be ready to accept this fact. And welcome the opportunity to raise my daughter in the grounded place that formed me.

I will always have the experiences from outside the state border. And my eyes have been opened to different perspectives that Phoenicians may not have even considered.

But I can bring those perspectives back home. And continue to improve the place where I belong.

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