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Leaving the Familiar

It’s the middle of the night, and I’m lying in bed just staring at the ceiling fan.

Actually, let me clarify a few things…

I’m not lying on a bed...I’m lying on an air mattress. The same air mattress I’ve been sleeping on for the last month as my wife and I eagerly await the day that we’re allowed to move into the house that we bought 2 months ago...and to which we’ve already moved most of our possessions...including our bed. To be fair, this is a really nice air mattress, and I’m grateful to our friends that loaned it to us...but my back and my soul miss my real bed.

It’s not the middle of the’s more like 9 pm. The work of preparing one house for sale and the other for arrival over the last 2 months is wearing me out! I’m going to bed before many of my friends have even settled into their nightly Netflix marathon, and I’m not ashamed (much) to admit it!

I’m not really staring at the ceiling fan. Rather, I’m staring at one of the few things in this home that has remained completely unchanged over the last 11 years of occupancy. Walls have been painted, a deck has been built, flooring has changed as have appliances, countertops, faucets, and fixtures...just about everything, actually.

Except for this ceiling fan.

And as I look at it now on one of the final nights that I’ll ever spend in this house...this home that sheltered and frustrated me during one of the most pivotal decades of my life...I’m aware of something that’s mostly lain dormant and unmolested over these last couple months.

I'm leaving the familiar and heading into the unknown.

And I’m scared.

I've been wanting this move for years. I had a love/hate relationship with my house from the moment I bought it, largely because my reason for buying it was necessitated by my first marriage ending (against my will, but that’s a story for later) and I needed a place to live. And this rinky-dink little townhouse was all I could afford. And I hated it. I hated that it wasn’t what I wanted. I hated that there was so much that needed to be fixed, changed, removed, or upgraded. It seemed like an insurmountable task. My hatred grew as what was supposed to be a 3-5 year transition home turned into a seemingly inescapable real estate purgatory. But mostly I hated it because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. My life felt like it was spinning out of control and this was a crappy band-aid on a whole lot of pain and uncertainty.

No one is more surprised than me that this rinky-dink little townhouse also became a place of incredible redemption. It gave me a low-risk sandbox in which to develop my budding handyman skills, and boy did I have some adventures. You know the kind - what you think will be a one-hour project turns into a two-day ordeal that includes a dozen trips to the hardware store. It became a place of memories as I shared it with others...first with 2 great friends who supported me through dark times, then with my younger brother as he began his life on the east coast, and then finally with my new bride as we began to turn that house into a home 8 years ago.

And now the day has come to turn the page...and I don’t hate this little townhouse anymore.

That alone seems like a minor miracle!

But there’s something deeper and far less glorious being uncovered as D(eparture)-day looms.

I'm a little afraid.

Because I had this old life figured out.

I have the situation under this roof under control...which is a total illusion but one I can more easily believe because the adventure has become familiar. I know what the budget looks like here. I know what’s fixed and what’s likely to need repairs. I know my surroundings and my neighborhood and my neighbors.

And this seems so symbolic of so many other moments in the past and so many other parts of my present.

So many other places where I hedge because I’m unsure if I have what it takes. Where I stick with what’s comfortable instead of accepting the invitation into something that, at worst, promises a valuable lesson learned, and at best, offers levels of joy and adventure and excitement that simply weren’t possible in the land of comfort and safety.

So here’s to the unknown.

Here’s to a new home and new memories and new challenges.

To a new chapter.

To uncertainty.

To a loss of control...which I never had anyway.

Let the adventure begin.

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