In the Midwest we are intimately familiar with the feeling in the air before a tornado. The mixture of the warm and cool air combine into the maelstrom that becomes a descending spiral. The air both still and crackling with energy.
This is what the inside of my chest felt like when I thought of the move to Austin. My heart swelling in excitement over new potential and contracting in pain at the thought of leaving everything I know behind, creating a swirling mess of emotion which prevented me from sleeping at the most inopportune times.
It wasn’t so bad during the day. In my insomnia induced undead state I was able to keep busy with work, with packing, and with the ever present side projects I can’t seem to stop starting. But at night, when the streetlight filtered through the blinds like something out of film noir, it wasn’t so easy. The dark night confronted me with all of the doors that were closing and things I would have to say goodbye to.
Omaha has been my home for the past 17 years, but only recently have I felt like I have been putting down roots. I grew up moving every two years, so for the longest time I kept waiting for another move to happen. I kept thinking that Omaha was only temporary. Last summer, I spent two weeks near Cape Town, South Africa. One day, during my trip, I spent a morning walking along the beach outside our residence. The sand was cool under my bare feet, since we were in the middle of Cape Town’s winter, but the sun was shining and the day was beautiful. As I walked along the shoreline, I decided I wanted to try and teach abroad. I wanted to get out of Omaha.
I don’t know for sure why, but that sentiment changed when I was confronted with the reality of graduation and moving on to a career. I decided then that I didn’t want to leave Omaha after all and my husband and I decided to stay for at least one more year. I didn’t think I was ready to leave yet. But I guess God had other plans.
After the rush of last minute packing, we finally loaded up our Budget truck and were ready to drive to Austin. This was going to be a crazy trip since we were driving down, dumping our stuff in our apartment (an apartment we would be seeing for the first time), driving back, running a debate camp, and then Bryan would drive back to Austin again to start school while I stayed in Omaha for a bit longer. All of this was supposed to be executed in 1 week with little room for error. As we passed over the boarder into Texas I felt like I did when I was 9 and my brother pushed me over while I was rollerblading: my breath suddenly disappeared from my body as I tried desperately not to cry. Emotional sobs and driving on interstate are not a good mix.
The view before me was both familiar and foreign. The flat expanse of Texas was similar to the flat expanse of Nebraska, but somehow flatter. Leave it to a Nebraska girl to notice variations of flatness. For me, the browns and yellows of the flat Texas plains represented every change that I was going through and I fought to keep my emotions in check. But just as I began to wonder if I should pull over and let myself have a good cry, I saw a sign for a church which read in big, white cursive letters:”You belong here.” This literal sign from above brought me the peace I needed to continue my trip.
The worst Nebraska storms bring with them destruction. Hail leaves craters in cars, rain water floods basements, and unrelenting winds uproots seemingly sturdy tree trunks. But usually, when a tree is uprooted, it’s because it’s old. It’s roots no longer belong in that soil. Instead, it is time for a new tree to take its place. This move is sad, but it feels right. It is time to carry away the remnants of the old branches and plant a new tree.