Three months ago today I began my journey from Phoenix to Murfreesboro, TN. The feelings of hope, excitement and anticipation for what awaited me left an indelible mark in my memory. I clearly recall the events leading up to my exodus. It was near record heat that day and the air was exceptionally dry despite the monsoon season had officially started. We hosted our final “ballet pool party” to give the girls the chance to say goodbye. It was a morning of hugs and tears for a group of girls that I have had the privilege to watch grow into beautiful young ladies. I hugged my daughter goodbye as she went with a friend and would follow me out to Tennessee a week later.
I pulled out of my local Starbucks at 1:30pm and hit the road. I was joyously leaving behind the 115 degree days, the dirt, the brown cloud and the hard times. But I was also leaving behind my Friday mornings at Einstein Bagels with Daysi, Ballet Under the Stars with Giselle, coffee dates with Janys, tap class with Starlet, daily walks with Claudio and Keelan and long talks with Lib and her beautiful kids. I formed amazing relationships with amazing people in Phoenix. I had no idea that the strength and love that they gave me would be the foundation in which my life in Tennessee would be built upon. I could not foresee that their influence in my life would be so necessary and so profound from 1600 miles away.
I arrived in Tennessee on Monday, July 20th. My first stop was the local Walmart in Shelbyville. Wherever you go in America, it seems a Walmart can be found. Walking across the parking lot I was acutely aware that I was not like everyone else, yet, I had a strong sense of belonging. Earlier that day as I crossed the Mississippi River, I realized that the 18 years I spent in Phoenix I spent waiting to exhale. I felt as though I was an unwelcomed, overstayed guest in Phoenix. Driving into Tennessee, I finally exhaled: a knowing I was “home”.
The past three months have been nothing shy of a roller coaster. It has been a time of heart break, financial instability, frustration, anger, empathy for my daughter and innumerable changes and upheaval. The one constant, my God, has never left nor been remiss to provide all we needed. Despite the tears that have been shed, I have maintained a peace knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Though I spent time friend-less, money-less, job-less and without our own place, I have had an unwavering joy and genuine happiness. And now, the tide has begun to turn. Though riches have yet to flow through my doors, a regular pay check does. I am beginning to build new friendships and I’m on the path of settling into this new “home”.