I have been in Colchester for five weeks now. October has come and gone, and now we’re nearing the halfway point of the autumn term.
During my first week in Colchester, I remember feeling a bit disoriented. I was in Colchester, but I was spending most of my time talking to people back home. I’ve become increasingly aware of the importance of place. Grand Rapids. Oxford. Southend. Nashville. Colchester. Places where I have either lived or spent time in with people I care about deeply.
I used to think that where I was physically was what mattered most. While in Oxford, Grand Rapids was just a vague and cloudy image of a place I wasn’t in at that moment. But when I moved here, I didn’t feel like my feet were planted fully in Colchester. I wanted to be present here, but I also wanted to be present in those other places.
So I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on place and how it influences so many parts of life. In the midst of this reflection, I came to a strange new thought: I don’t know where I belong. Right now I know Colchester is where I need to be. But after that? I have no idea. In a world of my making the answer would be somewhere in England, but this isn’t my world, nor should I try to pretend it is.
Where is my home? Where do I belong? I feel at home both in Michigan and England, but in different ways. I yearn for stability. For community. A place to call home and people to share life with. But I also yearn to discover the world. So in a sense, I’m okay with not having my feet planted in one place. At least for a while. I’ve loved the experience of finding meaning and community in different places. But with the blessing of having people you love scattered across the globe comes the curse of having people you love scattered across the globe.
If anything, knowing that this is just one year in a life makes me want to make it count, to work hard and live well. So I’m trying. I’m learning. I’m slowly watching Colchester become a place on my list of places to call home. My feet might not be fully planted, but at least now they’re on the ground.