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Another Life: If I Stayed in Peoria

Shelly, a man from my church, is letting me use his house for my yard sale this weekend.  He’s moving out, and when I first showed up to start unloading people’s donations, my mom and I took a quick tour of the empty rooms.  It’s an old person house, for sure.  Lots of carpeting, small rooms, individual fix-its.  I fell in love immediately.

“Look!  The sink is in the corner,” I breathed.  My mom nodded in agreement.  Yes, the kitchen sink was in the corner.

Then she laughed.  “There’s a toilet back here!  With just a curtain.  I think I’d rather have a door.”

With the unthinking ferocity of the newly obsessed, I insisted, “No, this makes perfect sense.  When you have to, like, go to the bathroom really badly, you don’t have to deal with….doors.”

We moved on, and with every room, I fell more in love.  It is an extremely small house with surprisingly roomy closets.  With custom-made shelves, always a weakness of mine.  Outside was even cuter, with lots of trees and landscaped flowerbeds.

“Mom, I love this house.  I love this house.  I want it.  Will you buy it for me?”

My mom side-eyed me pretty hard.  “Tricia.  You’re moving to Greece in four months.”

“Yes, but.  After that?”

“I guess you could just tell people that you’re taking the money they’re donating and using it to buy a house instead!”

“Psyche!”  I laughed.  Then I considered this.  Could I convince everyone that their thousands of dollars were better spent buying me a house rather than enabling me to teach and befriend women who have been sexually trafficked?  ….Probably not.

We went back to loading the garage with donated goods and planning the yard sale.

***

The next day we were back.  Shelly was there, clearing out things from his back patio.  We made some small talk, and I mentioned how adorable his house was.

“I wish I could give it to you,” he said, unprompted by me in even the tiniest way.  “I’d love for you to stay around here.”

My mom must have seen the gleam in my eye, because she reminded him (and me), “It’s too bad she’s already decided to move to Greece.”

“Yes,” I agreed sadly.  “I’m moving to Greece.”

I mean, obviously I’m super excited to move somewhere new, make new friends, get better at my job, and contribute to the world in a really meaningful and intimate way.

BUT.

All this dreaming about owning my own tiny house, within walking distance of my beloved church, stocking it with junky furniture and too-few decorations….I found myself wanting a home.  Wanting this home.  It’s hard not to love my hometown, where I can fall back into friendship and productivity with church friends while also reconnecting in really great ways with old high school friends.  It’s so easy.  People know my skills, they ask me for help, they help me in return.  The enormity of the support I’ve felt in fundraising for Greece has made me fall in love with Woodland all over again.

BUT.

I want to move to Greece.  I want to be the sort of person who chooses the harder thing, who forces themselves to adapt and grow.  I want to be brave.  I want to be friends with everyone on the entire planet.  I want to see every beautiful landscape and cityscape.  I want to eat all the foods and take all the pictures.  I want to use my knowledge and education to do something emotionally and mentally draining.

I want both:  the safe and the dangerous, the comfortable and the exciting, the established and the new.  I can’t have both, except in these few months when in between moves when I settle into “home” all over again.  And since I have to choose, I choose Greece.  Even though Shelly’s house is SO. INCREDIBLY. CUTE.

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2 thoughts on “Another Life: If I Stayed in Peoria”

  1. If you really like this house, why not stay in Peoria, get a job, buy the house and live with folks who know you and love you. I know you want to go to Greece, and I know it is none of my business, but if I were your father or your grandfather I would strongly urge you to reconsider this choice. You can do just as much good if not more here in Peoria, you would certainly get more bang for your buck here and you won’t have to learn fluent Greek. Your family and friend love you and want you to stay around. OK…off the soapbox, Tommy.

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    1. Sure I could, but I would always regret it. My rocking chair test, given to me by my counseling supervisor, is this: picture yourself at age 85 and ask yourself which you would regret more: leaving Peoria or not going to Greece. Eleven months ago I immediately knew I would regret passing up this opportunity, and that has never changed. I’m allowed to be sad over the things I am choosing not to do or have, even as I am excited about the things I will do and have.

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