Texas, You Had Better Have Tissues

So, um... I'm moving to Texas.

Many of you who know me on twitter or were at PJs at TJ's this year probably already know that. But, in case you missed it, as many people in my personal life have, I'm MOVING to TEXAS.

Fair warning, this post is likely to be both CAPSLOCKY and incoherently babblish. Just FYI. Becaaaaauuuse: I'm moving to Texas in FOUR DAYS. And I have not packed a THING.

Here's the deal. Waaaay back in July (so like four posts ago on this here blog of abject neglect), I visited Linnea and her family in the DFW area. I got to meet her super cute, super schmooshy baby (who has grown into a super cute, slightly less schmooshy TODDLER, but that's a different story altogether) and her great husband and her sweet pets and her lovely friends. Through the planning phase of that trip, we joked about me meeting a cowboy/oil barron and getting married and just staying in Texas. And then when I got there, we joked about me finding a job there and living in Linnea's spare bedroom. And then about half-way through the trip, we kind of sort of somewhat a lot stopped joking. By the time I got on a plane to come home, I had half-way convinced myself that it was POSSIBLE to perhaps, SOMEDAY maybe try to sort of spend some more time in the general DFW area. Because I am a decisive person with a firm five-year plan for the future. Ahem.

Anyway, I got home and, as I had suspected, I remembered all of the reasons I love Far North and that I was actually very comfortable here, despite all of the REALLY GOOD reasons I had come up with while IN Texas for why Far North wasn't doing it for me anymore. Except. Those REALLY GOOD reasons wouldn't go away. Reasons like: I had not worked in a year; I'm overweight and struggling to lose weight in the cold and the dark and the land of expensive produce; I'm single and there are very few single, eligible men in this town; I'm afraid to drive in the snow.

So I started praying about it. And I started googling about DFW and jobs and housing. And then, in a fateful staff meeting in August about our church's growth and seating capacity, one of the pastors said, "I don't want to build a new building or move. I want to stay right here and keep preaching and just ignore the problem. But that's a terrible way to preach the Gospel and that's not what God is asking us to do." And all I could hear in my head was "I don't want to move to Texas and start over. I want to stay right here and keep failing to meet my goals and just ignore the problem. But that's a terrible way to live and that's not what God is asking me to do."

For those of you of the faith-y persuasion, this might be a familiar thing. But I know that this has to sound CRAZY to those of you who don't do church or faith. And, to tell you the truth, it's a little bit crazy to me, too. But it also feels so incredibly right. I didn't hear an audible voice from the heavens--that would either make me insane or...Moses and I'm pretty sure I'm neither. But I did know, deep in my gut, that it was the best plan and I could feel this tug on my soul to move and grow and change and see what this opportunity had to offer.

Now, as I am wont to do, I procrastinated and hemmed and hawed and just generally ignored that moment of revelation. Well, ignored it as much as I could while it was nagging in the back of my head and the few people I'd mentioned it to kept nudging me and asking about it and basically shooing me in a southerly direction. I went on more interviews here and failed to get each and every single job, even ones that seemed like sure things (THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A SURE THING). And I applied for jobs there, saying I wouldn't go without a plan and having a job there was part of the plan, no "plan" materialized. And then a house-sitting job came up and then the holidays came and then there was PJs at TJ's and and and AND AND I was a big chicken.

All of this to say that I am FINALLY taking the leap. I have a room and a car waiting for me and a hope of some part-time nannying until I can secure permanent employment. I have no idea where this will lead and I had a whole post planned about all the BENEFITS! and LOGIC! and WISDOM! of moving to Texas, but.

Instead, in the middle of writing this, I was called into our church auditorium (I'm writing this form the church office, since I've been temping here all week) and they made a "blessing circle" around me. Which sounds so much more churchy and mystical than it really is. I don't even know if anyone else does this, but my Worship Pastor (who also happens to be my best friend, which makes this all the more difficult) has developed this tradition of sending people off in TEARS. I mean... Wait.

You see, whenever one of us is going away (either moving or being sent out on the mission field or away to long-term training or anything longer than a few months), he gathers the whole worship team and forces the Leaving to sit in the center with everyone staring at them while each person takes a turn telling the Leaver how much they've been personally blessed by them and how much they'll miss them and how grateful they are for the Leaver's service to the church and basically GUILTS them into staying because how can you leave when everyone loves you this much?! And then, after you've done the ugly cry in front of everyone you know and you've had to figure up the appropriate facial expression to wear when someone compliments your humble spirit (there is no humble way to take that compliment and still, you know, TAKE it) and you've resisted the urge to look behind you twelve million times because a) they MUST be talking about someone else because while you are awesome, you do not feel THIS awesome and b) there are PEOPLE behind you waiting to say nice things to you and probably noticing that the shirt you chose that morning isn't really long enough to cover your lower back while you're sitting in a discount rolling office chair... After all of THIS, everyone stands up and puts a hand on you and prays blessings over you and your ministry and calling and new life.

And it is an amazing experience. It's humbling and beautiful and scary and powerful and awkward and abut eighteen other adjectives. And I was crying and trying not to be to noisy about it and trying to remember every last word spoke and also trying to perfect my spontaneous teleportation powers so I disappear on the spot because, man, I do not deserve half of the kindness that was given to me tonight. I kept thinking that there is so much imperfect about me and my walk with Jesus and if these people, these people who've known me most of my life and who know me so well, could ACTUALLY see my heart, they might run way screaming from the mess that I am inside.

But I think that's the point. We are, none of us, perfect. But it was amazing for just a few minutes, to see myself as others saw me. Not to build myself up and pat myself on the back for being able to cover my mess so well, but to see the way I HAVE grown and the ways I AM serving the Lord and loving people. It was kind of eye-opening in its ordinariness.

Whoa. Okay, before I sink too far into a nostalgic burst of self-inflated psychoanalysis, I should stop and get some sleep. There is a whole house to clean in preparation of my good-bye party (which I'm kind of throwing for myself, which is probably incredibly terrible etiquette, but Sister says its her house and she called to invite everyone, so SHE'S throwing the party, which, okay.) and I'm meeting a friend for lunch and I broke the church's copier today (how's that for being a humble servant, huh? I'm going out with a bang, I guess), so I'm going in to meet the copier guy in the morning even though the church is technically closed. Oh, and I have library books to return and a million other things to do and OH HEY PACKING, so I need some sleep.

But a post about moving to Texas would not be complete without at least a small note to say that this is ALL THE INTERNET'S FAULT. That's right--I'm moving to texas because of YOU! I never would have met Linnea or EVER thought about moving to TEXAS OF ALL PLACES if it weren't for the Internet. And more specifically, if it weren't for TJ putting a link to this blog on hers and if it weren't for Linnea clicking that link and finding me and if it weren't for TJ throwing a slumber party with an open invitation that made me feel welcome and brave enough to meet the Internet in person. And I think all of that is just a little bit nuts, but it's also just about the coolest thing I've ever heard.


PJs at TJ's Recap Year 2 (Because My Title Cleverness Escapes Me Today) (Again)

I'm not very good at recaps. Writing out "this happened, then this happened, and then that person did this..." seems to lend itself mostly to being boring or braggy. Or both. And probably the majority of you were there. I'm not sure who all reads this blog anymore, since I have so severely neglected it in the last few months year or so. So, this may end up reading a lot like, "Hey, you guys, you remember that thing that happened four days ago? Yeah. That was fun." But I trudge onward.

I went to PJs at TJ's last year, as some of you might remember. This year was a little bit different in a lot of little ways. First of all, I'd never met any of the women in person before I went last year. This year, I had met about 14 out of the 24 (the 25th one being me, whom I'm pretty sure I've met before--this sentence is awkward, but I'm 98% sure it's grammatically correct). By the way, I just did the math on that and I thought I'd met far more than that. I mean, Deja's in the not-met category, even though she was SUPPOSED to come last year and had to bail at the last second because she was ill. So I didn't meet her. But I ALMOST met her. So. I don't really have a point here.

I got a little lost there for a second but I think I'm here: The second reason the weekend was different from last year was that Sister got to come along with me. She wanted to go so badly last year, but she'd just started a new job a few weeks before and she couldn't make it happen. It was really nice to have a traveling buddy (98% of the travel I've done since I turned 18 has been solo, which can be fun, but is also lonely at times) (I apparently like to use 98% for my made up statistics). It was also nice to have a sort of touchstone at the party. Like if I got too overwhelmed, I could just look at her and know that there was at least one person in the room who was contractually obligated to like me. I ended up not needing that at all, because all of the women were really awesome and also because, as I said above, I'd met many of them before and consider several close friends. But it was still nice to have family near me. It was also fun seeing her experience the LIVE INTERNET for the first time. Her experience is not mine to tell, but I will hazard a guess that she had a great time.

Man, I keep getting all descriptive and tangential and I forget that I am trying to tell you how the party was different this year (and hopefully thus recapping without too much "AND THEN..."ing). Anyway, this year, Kelly rented a vacation-type home instead of hosting us in her house, which was easier to get to because it was not surrounded by armed guards. The house was beautiful and huge and kind of strange--we spent a lot of time speculating what kind of person the owner was, since some of the decor/building choices were strange (a giant painting of a very sad clown on the staircase, two (TWO) formal dining rooms, stairs made of death stone). But the house was very nice and served our purposes well and Kelly has told us that the owner was very kind and helpful and I'm very thankful he let us take over his home for the weekend.

With the addition of the house, there was the option to stay in the house instead of a hotel (like I did last year). Sister and I jumped at the chance and I am so glad we did. I'm sure that there were benefits to staying at a hotel (like sleeping more than a few hours a night because I couldn't leave the party and just go to bed like a NORMAL person), but it was the absolute right choice for me. I don't know if I'll be able to snag a place in it next year and I'm sure the weekend will still be fantastic if I don't, but I know I'd do it all over again. And now I'm chuckling at myself a little because I have no idea where I'll be living or what I'll be doing a year from now and it seems a little insane to be making plans this far out and yet. That is the magic of Kelly's party.

ANYway, Sister and I shared a room in the party house, which allowed us to get there on Thursday instead of Friday and I think it was a nice way for us to ease into the weekend. I'm a natural introvert (which many people give me the side-eye about, but I SWEAR I prefer to be alone or one-on-one, it's just that I have developed skills and mechanisms for being not completely awful in large crowds), so the extra day gave me a little time to get used to a smaller group of people before everyone got there on Friday. And actually, that's the reason the party house worked so well for me. There are other reasons I liked it, but the ability to pop upstairs for a break or spend some time with fewer people before and after the events really helped me a lot.

And while it was different, so much about the party remained the same--in the best ways possible. I got to eat insane amounts of junk food. TANGENT: I've been on WeightWatchers since December 3rd, so I just declared this a free weekend and ate whatever I wanted. And even though the scale was not too charitable on Monday morning, I don't regret it at all. I would have been miserable all weekend trying to make everything fit into the points system and I would have failed in the end anyway--I know myself and the program well enough to know that. And at some point, I'll try to write a post about my weight loss, if I can make it...not obnoxiously boring. But for now, I have to focus on recapping, because once I start writing, I get ALL THE IDEAS and yet I only post once a month or so, which I really have no explanation for.

So. I got to eat junk and talk to people that I really like and have even missed since last year (even though we chat on twitter all the time) and I got to meet new people who are MY PEOPLE and that's always a good feeling. I can't possibly name everyone or everything (especially since I didn't get to talk to everyone I wanted to), so I'm not even going to try. But there are a few things that stick out, in no particular order:

  • Kelly's book summaries and reviews, complete with hand motions and made-up terms ("lady-wife" being my favorite)
  • Deja's duck laugh
  • Lunch with Sister and Kammah and Linnea and our 6'7" waiter named Francisco (I wish I had a link for Francisco)
  • Shanghai-ing Ginger at the kitchen table with my terrible work stories and watching her face get progressively more shocked with each terrible story (and watching her kindly refrain from running away even though I could. not. stop. talking)
  • Gorging myself on the Edible Arrangement for two years in a row (Thanks, Kelly's mom!)
  • Kelly learning how to make a sympathetic face and Diane's wit causing Kelly to choke on her soda
  • Lara and Rachael playing with Penny, who Angry Eyebrowed us all into submission
  • Noemi's valiant efforts to get us to Chili's and being thwarted again and again by Apple Maps.
  • Keeping Diane awake after everyone else talking about a stupid "friend" of mine and also my terrible work stories (man, I need to shut UP once in a while)
  • Ranting and venting with Jules about being single and how people think it's such an easy thing to "fix"
  • Falling UP the stairs and bashing my toes, but NOT bleeding on anything valuable because I am talented and coordinated and not at all likely to be murdered by my own limbs
  • Getting to know Amanda and seeing her awesome Ravenclaw tattoo
  • Susie and Diane and their ridiculously small gin & tonics (Diane's was in a salt shaker with one ice cube)
  • Enpurpling the party house while Kelly introduced me to Alkaline Trio, who I really liked and I'm not sure how I've not heard them before
I know I HAVE to be forgetting things, but that's all I have for now and if I wait for my memory to catch up, I will never publish this and I'm tired of not blogging (a weird thing to be tired of, to be sure, but still true). 

I only regret two things this year: 1) not making more of an effort to talk to EVERYONE (although I wouldn't give up any of the conversations I did have to do so, so I'm not sure where that leaves me) and 2) keeping poor Kelly awake far past her bedtime (I was staying up because she was up and I didn't want to miss anything and SHE was staying up as a good hostess and basically I should have gone to bed earlier and we both would have been better off). Sorry, Kelly. Oh, and by the way, thanks for throwing a party and being serious when you said anyone could come. I'm so glad you did.