Several of my friends have been asking and asking again about how are we adjusting to life in Michigan.
For Barb and me, this seems like such an odd kind of question. It is asked so frequently that it almost seems like some sort of group obsession. Right there, I’m trying to understand why people are so very interested.
The first thing is that some people just can’t understand moving such great distances. There are some people for whom great change is a very frightening prospect. I remember when we were living in Santa Maria, California in the late 1980’s and I’d made the decision to move to the Thousand Oaks area to attend law school at nearby Pepperdine University. One of our friends, who couldn’t have been 30 years old yet, was simply amazed that we would move “so far” to do something “so different.” This guy was so rooted to the area – even the valley – that he was born in that he couldn’t imagine relocating. I was struck by the thought that this 28 year old guy was already thinking like an old man.
Even when we candidated for this church, one of the questions that was asked was, “How can you move so far away from your friends and family??” That is, from Washington to Michigan. There are several answers to that question, but the primary one was that Jesus wanted us to. Beyond that, the reality is that real friends stay your friends. Our society is more connected over farther distances than at any other time in history. It is a relatively trivial thing for me to be in immediate contact with a friend in Southern California. Distance isn’t the issue. Actually, time zones present the greatest challenge!
Additionally, we are located nearer the bulk of our family now than when we were on the west coast. The hardest thing, in terms of family, is that both of our daughters are on the west coast. As parents, we can no longer respond as quickly or immediately as we were accustomed to. However, that separation has more to do with our daughters’ stage in life relative to our own. We are becoming empty-nesters.
Even more so, unlike my young old-man friend above, Barb and I have always had an adventurous streak in us. We have always relished travel and the challenge of adapting to new places and people. We’ve moved several times now and realize that, wherever we go, we’ll make new friends, keep the old ones, and enjoy the new place. We’re pretty resilient.
The other part of the insistent question, "how are you adjusting?" is just the nature of relationships here in Michigan. The vast majority of people that we know here are in our church – the church where I’m a pastor. They really can’t ask about my work because I can’t tell them that much. They can complain about the jerks and idiots who they work with. I can’t complain. (snicker) That last sentance is pretty ambiguous!
Additionally, lots of what I do can be confidential in nature and there’s only so much I can share. Even if I chat with people socially, they tend to steer away from talking about my ‘work.’ So what’s left to talk about? Well, I’m new to the area so … “How are you settling in?”
I’ll blog a bit more about our transition as time goes on.