I’m stuck in a place of melancholy lately. I’m packing up my home - the little yellow room I’ve called my own for the last two years and I keep stumbling upon old journals with quick thoughts scrawled inside, post-its from my roommates, or old photos of friendships throughout university. I also keep getting misty-eyed, much like the mist that’s settling in the air today.
April feels very different this year, and I think that’s because there are great, looming changes. I’m not doing the same things I’ve been doing for the last two years. I’m not working on orientation. I’m not going to continue putting wristbands on guest’s hands (which, by the way, is a great waste of my incredible talent because I am BOSS at putting those things on). I’m no longer living with my best friends: I’m moving from a place I lived in longer than I actually lived with my step-father.
And it feels a little bit like I’m losing my stability.
I’m not feeling off track, like I’m about to ride off the rails. But I’m not good at sticking things out. I’m not good at staying around. I never stay too long in one place. I flit and I flutter. I’m a little bit of a runner. I’m a short term person.
We moved around a lot when I was a kid - sometimes because our family had to run away from things, and sometimes because better things came along. My resume is chock full of different work positions, but generally for one year terms. I had a lot of baggage for a long time, and I never wanted people to get too close to me, so I’d run away from relationships.
Somewhere along the way, I developed an ability to push people away in such a creative way that they had no idea they didn’t really know me.
Needless to say, I don’t really do stability.
On a day much like today, a friend called me out on my ability to keep people away. We were walking through the sidewalks of Westdale when I turned a question back on him, and he cut me off.
“No! I promised myself, I would ask you questions this time.”
The lights reflected off the wet pavement and the subtle whooshing of cars driving over the damp streets was the soundtrack of the moment.
I responded quickly. “You ask me lots of questions. Don’t be silly.”
“No!” This time, his voice raised a little bit. Not because he was mad - because he was passionate about what he was saying. “I drove away from your house last time we hung out, thinking, ‘Wow. Hannah and I have a great friendship. She knows so much about me!’ And then I realized, I know almost nothing about you. So tonight, we’re going to talk about you.”
His response told me he’d been thinking about this quite a bit, and I was stunned. Because I don’t think anyone has ever quite so acutely summarized the dance I do - I ask the questions, I spin you around, I make you the focal point, but I always keep you an arms length away. I keep you dizzy, so you never think about dancing close to me.
I got used to 6 month relationships and year stints at different jobs. I got used to being the short term person that everyone thinks they know, but nobody ever really does, because she’s not around enough to be known.
And this is why it feels like it’s beginning to feel like I’m losing my stability. In the last two years, in my sunny yellow bedroom or in the dark living room of 336 Jarv; in the maze that is Kerr Hall or the rink of Maple Leaf Gardens; in streetcars or subways; in the kids castle of High Park or the crepe cafe in the Village - I feel like I’ve finally let myself be seen and known.
I’ve let myself dance with people. I’m learning to answer questions about myself. Heck, I’ve slept with Mel’s arm, which is really how you learn to get close to someone. I worked at a job for two years straight and am staying on for a fourth year at a department. I’m sharing my writing again. I’m still playing games of keep away with my feelings on certain days, but this little stable environment has helped me grow in ways I never imagined.
Seriously. Seven years ago, I was sitting in a home on Second Concession West & was thinking about how Love Story by Taylor Swift was the greatest song to ever be written. Now, I contemplate change in cafes while sipping on Earl Grey Tea, which I swore I’d never like.
…okay fine, I’m listening to the Taylor Swift discography as well but I now know every Taylor Swift song is the greatest song to ever be written. Maturity.
I’m learning this to be very true: just because the setting and characters are changing a bit doesn’t mean my growth has to stop.
I think I thought I would stop growing, that my walls would go shooting back up the second I left this comfortable and stable place. It took a long time to even want to let myself be known to people, and it took two years of slow growth to develop to where I am today. So, I somehow convinced myself that if I left where I’d learned so much about myself, about Jesus, about relationships, about vulnerability, about working, & about my family, I’d just stop growing.
But moving and change is a replanting of sorts and I’ve got very strong roots. I’m not losing my stability - stability just looks different than I thought it did. Maybe stability isn’t staying in the same place for a long time: maybe it’s taking steps to keep your roots strong amidst constant replanting, so you can continue growing in a new place. And I’m not talking quick growth either, like flowers that grow for a season. I’m talking about long term growth, one day at a time, like the giant trees that fill forests and look like fire in fall.
Most of the time, trees are the most stable of all.