The Cost of Leaving Home.

I have never lived anywhere other than Florida. My mind may have sweetly dreamed of London streets or frosty, historic Boston in my early 20’s, but alas, it was never meant to be. My loyalty always resided by the folks I held nearest and dearest to my heart (minus a few cool kids living in other states and overseas). Don't get me wrong, I both admire and support those that have a desire or even a bit of a wanderlust drive to them. I used to, too. I had lots of opportunities, but never the peace. It just always felt a bit too much for this Type A brain to take. What seemed like a massive undertaking, adapting to new cultures, surroundings, weather, and social mores, felt too difficult for me. These were the kind of thoughts that rattled relentlessly through my brain. "I could just take whatever ‘cool’ job presented itself" or "maybe I’ll just move in with a friend for a while and see what comes around." These were lofty and far too laid back thoughts for my kind. These dreams settled and were quietly nestled into the deep parts of my mind, I imagine close to the place that still continued to fund my childhood dream of being a comedian (I'm hopelessly awkward on stage in front of people... so no bueno). Three years ago I imagined there was no other place for me than where I was. I was (and currently am) happily married to a guy ions cooler than I, deep in the trenches of a career, and within a forty minute drive of just about everyone we love the most in this great big world.

So here I am, sitting in my mildly disheveled shared office with my husband, writing from a cute sixty year old house, in a small town in Southern Mississippi. When the calling on our hearts came to move to this sweet place, it came hard and relentlessly. So much so that the months prior to moving were some of the hardest my husband and I had ever endured in our marriage. Not because we were unhappy with each other but that we felt so strongly that we were not where we wanted to be. We experienced something miraculous though. At the same time, my husband and I felt the exact same calling. Like, the exact same. I mean, after just visiting my sister and brother-in-law’s home for a brief twelve-hour stay, we would catch ourselves saying things like, "wouldn't it be random and cool if we moved there?" What!? Who does that, right? In what felt like such a brief amount of time, sparked the kind of one-dimensional focus in us like we had never seen or felt before. Well, two years of praying, planning, and crying have finally led us to the place we are today, and we feel deliriously unworthy for such goodness. But with all this grace and perfect timing, we have slowly begun to measure the true cost of what it means to move away from people you love and care about so deeply.

The process of moving away from people I love has meant a lot of things for me. It has meant independence, feelings of disloyalty, fears, and lots of positive self-talk. It has me telling myself things like, "distance is the true test of relationships" and "we can always use one of the million communication platforms out there to chat." Life is never as simple as you desperately need it to be at times. Amidst those conversation, we fail to recognize that people have jobs, live on the other side of the globe, have families, or more importantly, have lives built around the exact same place you have chosen to move away from. Having distance does not guarantee a strengthening of relationships, but what it does insure is that there are now several hundred miles between you and the people you love, and pending hell or high water you need to be intentional about the time you are still investing in them. The cost of leaving home is this: not being able to have your weekly breakfast with your grandparents, having to schedule a phone date with your sister when previously all you had to do was just show up at her house to watch another episode of Deadliest Catch (it’s the only reality show I watch), watching through pictures as your best friend’s kids grow up and become awesome, and seeing my daughter play with and learn from her wonderful grandparents. These are the hard realities of swallowing the decisions that we have made, despite how purposeful and peace-filled you feel about those decisions. I am paying this price willfully, and for as much as my bouts of homesickness plague me, I am equally filled with a host of reasons to press on, to continue to live in this new season I have helped create with my little family. Much of our lives are factored with this give and take; we fear it, and sometimes take advantage of it, but it’s always there. I have left my home but I will continue to strive to fill my life with new moments and memories with those I love incessantly from a distance.

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Travis Cooper