Wow, you can really see the stars out here. My thoughts echoed the words of my friends as we sat outside on my family’s little back porch, huddled in blankets with our hands cupped around mugs of coffee and hot chocolate. Finally, cooler weather had made its appearance and my heart was full; I had missed chilly nights and cozy winter clothing.
There’s something about the holidays that makes me feel so at home.
It’s been seven months since graduation. I’ve moved back to my hometown to live with my family, driving an hour to and from work every day, and it almost seems as if I’ve had to search to find my place in the world all over again. I’ve had to come to terms with friends moving away and getting engaged and married and life changing so quickly.
Five years ago what I wanted most was to be out of my hometown. My parents told me this would happen. They told me that I would come to appreciate this place I now call home again, and I am; I really am. There’s a beauty here that I just couldn’t see a few years ago when I was so eager to leave.
However, this transition has been much harder than I anticipated it to be. I’m not sure what I expected working a full-time job to look like, but I do know that I quickly found myself dreading the everyday routine that had become my new normal. Currently, the majority of my days consist of waking up early, running late to work way too often, driving lots of miles to and from the city, sitting in my cubicle responding to emails, then driving home to wind down before waking up to do it all over again.
What a life.
I couldn’t have imagined how much I would struggle to feel at home in the day-in, day-out pattern of “adulting.” But then, something began to shift and somehow I’m now finding comfort in this season. Life has become a whole lot simpler lately, making even the smallest things seem that much more special. Like coming home from work each day to a delicious meal and the promise of a Netflix episode or two. Like spending Saturdays shopping with my mom and Sundays reconnecting with friends at the church I grew up in, but never thought I would return to.
And then there’s Red Cat. That’s the name of a little coffee shop just down the street from where I work. There’s a couch perfectly positioned against the back wall of this coffee shop, straight ahead once you walk through the doors, and that’s my spot. It’s right next to a big window, and if you happen to get there at just the right time, the sunlight pierces through that window in the most beautiful way.
Sometimes I go and just sit on this couch after a long day at work. Over the past few months, Red Cat has become a place where I go to write, to dive into a good book, and to dream about things to come. There’s something about this place that feels like home. It’s the kindness of the people that work there, it’s the way that the cozy couch seems to invite me in, and it’s the windows that I can look out and see just how beautiful the city is around me.
It’s all of these things, but more than that, it’s the fact that I’m also finding these same joys in my hometown again. The kindness of my family through this season of transition, the warm invitation of old friends and the surprises of new ones, and the simply beauty of country roads and star-filled skies.
I’m learning that we can be more than okay through the shifts and shuffles of transition. Life is no longer endless hours in my favorite coffee shops and midnight drives through the city streets. Life is different, and that’s okay; and even on days when I have to keep reminding myself of this, that’s okay too.
But tonight, as I sit beside my two, now long-distance friends underneath the night sky, I am ever so thankful. We are together for this moment, soon to return to the new normal of our day-to-day lives, but we are more than okay.
Home truly can be wherever we may find ourselves, whether it’s cozied up on a little couch in a corner of a coffee shop or soaking up an evening amongst treasured friends, if only we will pause, look up, and choose to see the stars.