I’ve been counting down for months now. December rolled into January and the move back to school loomed ever-closer. Nine days. Eight. Seven. Six. Little by little I packed my life into bags and bins and suitcases. Tape screeched as I stretched it across the cardboard boxes of books I was sending ahead. I loaded the car, hoping against hope that everything would fit. When I shut the hatch for the last time on Friday night, I could finally breathe again.

And then I woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning and pulled out of the driveway with most of my earthly possessions in tow. Tiny towns interrupted stretches of field and forest as I followed the interstate north. By Saturday evening, I was back in the mountains.

The next afternoon I got back in the car, hundreds of miles under my tires by then. I wound through valleys and around ridges right into Tennessee. And as I crossed the state line, I wept.  

Ten months.

I’d been gone for ten months.

Never did I imagine when I left that it’d be so long. But after all that time, after all the things that should have been but weren’t, all the sorrows and joys that have marked this year, my heart has come home. Nashville is teaching me what it means to belong to a place, to know deep in my bones that this is where I’m supposed to be. The mountains and the trees and the coffee shops and the cityscape and even the rush-hour traffic—all of it feels like home.

I’ve spent the last week unpacking, settling in, and putting up a few decorations. Most of the work is done, but I’m still hunting for the perfect table. And a few chairs. And a rug. And . . . Well, maybe it’s not as done as I’d like. So in spite of all the settling, I’m still feeling a bit unsettled, running around, trying to put all the pieces in place.

It’s part of my perfectionistic bent, I suppose. I want things to be right, but I also want them right now. If I’ve learned anything this year, though, it’s that good things take time. Healing, beauty, belonging—all of these things take time.

More often than not, I still pressure myself to get it together, whatever it may be. To snap my fingers and turn my life into the one I want. But I’m finding goodness these days in the slowness of becoming.

Over and over I remind myself that right now, my health is more important than my GPA. It’s okay to rest even if all the things on my to-do list aren’t done.

I suppose that’s one of my new year’s resolutions: to slow down and be present where I am, imperfect though it may be. This work of healing, of becoming whole, is long and slow and difficult and beautiful and so full of grace. So for today, I’m doing my best to not rush it.

So here's to you, 2016. May we do the best we can with the days and hours and minutes in front of us this year. 

Photo by Carol VanHook, Creative Commons