As I’ve shared my excitement over our impending move to North Carolina, it may seem as though I’m indifferent to leaving the Bay Area. Joy has been my overwhelming emotion, but that changed the day I flipped the calendar to November and counted the remaining days. That’s when the sadness began. Transitions are just plain difficult. I left the Bay Area once before, back in 1990 when I moved to Romania, and now I’m leaving all over again. My first sojourn, in Berkeley in the 1980s, was a fulfilling time without any dull moments. These last eight years, spent across the bay in Marin County, have never measured up. Maybe it never had a chance.
I used to be proud to say I was from the San Francisco Bay Area. I loved the quirkiness of Berkeley. What happened? Maybe it’s because this sojourn was always meant to be temporary so I detached myself. Maybe it’s just been too many leavings; too many good-byes. Marin County to me is colored by my grief over leaving my beloved Eastern Europe and my Campus Crusade family – made more poignant by being in a place with completely opposite values. (A place so unwelcoming that my neighbors collected $100,000 to sue Habitat for Humanity so they wouldn’t build in our area.)
Last week I visited the City by the Bay and looked at her through fresh eyes. Steve and I decided to take some time to be tourists again. (It’d been 33 years for him and 24 for me and we had a blast.) As I strolled around my favorite place, the Palace of the Legion of Honor art museum, I realized I will miss the Bay Area. That day, I forgave San Francisco for her lack of friendliness, and told her I’m sorry, too. I regret that I didn’t overlook more of the prickliness of the people, that I held back and didn’t give it my all. I made up to the Bay Area and we became friends again. After all, God chose this place for me to spend eight years of my life. I’ve lived many places. Some I love; some are so-so. But God is with me in each place and He always brings meaning and purpose, often in surprising ways. How could I not miss the place where I fell in love with Steve, where we got engaged and spent the beginning of our married life? Where my granddaughter was born? Where God gave me a book? The place where God provided many wonderful friends, at church and at the seminary where I worked, salt and light people who stand in sharp contrast to the norm, people I’ve come to love and admire very much.
I made my peace with San Francisco. But I’m not leaving my heart here. I’m taking it with me to invest it in our new home.