Friday, August 7, 2009

The Gypsy Child Finds Her First Home

Part 2 of this story series ...

May 1987.
Asbury College.
Wilmore, Kentucky.

I am 22.

For the past four years, I have finally sunk my roots deep into a community, surrounded by people who care about my spiritual development as well as my intellectual and career advancement.

Here at this small private school in the rolling green hills of central Kentucky, I have found a home. I even feel like this place is more of a home than my parents’ homes. While I have sublimely settled in among friends of my age, the same people I see year after year, my mom and dad have moved four times.

One joke among my college friends is to ask me the same question each September:

“Where are you from this year?”

And each year, I am from a different state. My freshman year, Upstate New York. My sophomore year, Peoria, Illinois. My junior year, Manchester, Connecticut. And now, my senior year, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I think to myself, “My parents may be moving around, but I have friends now. I can stay here for four whole years!” Every morning when I sit for my prayers, I thank God for these friends, for this place where I can finally belong and be known.

But today is graduation day. I stand on the lawn that stretches before the campus chapel and gaze at my classmates, all preparing to flee this nest. They are happy. They are surrounded by family. Some have jobs. Some will be returning here again in September. Some will be getting married.

And I … I will be going with my parents to a house I’ve never seen and to a city I’ve only visited once. I have no idea what is in store. I have no job prospects. I have no friends in Philadelphia. But I have nowhere else to go. I stand among my peers, trying to seem happy but choking back tears.

I don’t grieve the fact that I’m jobless. I grieve that it may be years before I see these people again. And who knows when I will feel this same sense of community? Maybe never.

I load myself into my small brown stickshift Dodge Colt and follow my parents’ car down the highway, away from the place I have loved more than any other. I cry the entire way. When we finally pull into the driveway in Philadelphia, my head is throbbing and my nose and eyes are swollen.

“Have you still been crying?” my father asks me, shaking his head.

I don’t answer. I just grab my small pile of things and head to a compact upstairs room with a twin bed. I face the wall and cry myself to sleep.

I do that for the next three weeks.

And my self-prediction is fulfilled. I enter a career and a lifestyle that further isolates me from those in the Christian community.

I continue the road of the Gypsy Girl. It doesn’t take long for me to build walls in my heart, to isolate myself from others and to become a self-subsisting creature, one that exists completely alone. And I become very good – very good – at believing and acting like I need no one else in my life.

Why is this tale of the Gypsy Girl important in a Christian safehouse? Tune in tomorrow for the next part of the story.

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