Long Ride Home

Currently returning from a trip to New York City visiting my friend Emily. The night before I left, I was tired and not terribly enthused about departing from home, but I had purchased bus tickets when my spirits and energy levels were high, so I was going regardless of my current feelings on the matter.

I stepped off the bus into a sea of humidity and grey rain clouds, and was greeted by Emily’s smiling face. My initial hesitations over the trip vanished as we embraced and began making plans for the rest of the day. We began by walking through the gardens of the High Line. The sun came out and a breeze whipped up, clearing out the humidity and the clouds. And then began the dominating activity of the next three days: exploring and imagining myself living an everyday life in each new spot.

I chose the bench on the High Line walk where I would take my journal to write in as I looked over the water. I made a list of the restaurants in Chelsea Market which I would systematically work through until I had tasted all the flavors it had to offer. I saw the bookstores I would frequent and the farmers market from which I would walk home with wildflowers and fresh vegetables. I picked the apartment rooftop where I would host lively dinner parties, and the fire escape where I would sit in the mornings with my coffee. I eyed Emily’s apartment and determined where I could make space for my KitchenAid mixer, and made plans for how I would store my Christmas decorations. My fantastical New York self would fit right in here; I was sure of it.

Best of all, this life had no complications. Faceless friends would populate it, but as I didn’t know who they were, there were no worries about finding them and no danger of their leaving afterward. I had all kinds of time in this picture– never a dull moment but never one too busy either. My bank account obviously would stretch to accommodate all the things I wanted to do and try. In this life I was always happy and carefree.

I’ve gone through this exercise often enough to see the escapist tendency that lies behind it. I know my ideal picture is truly a fantasy–expanded and overblown to the point where it is entirely unrealistic and unattainable.

Riding back to D.C. forces me to remember that my fantasy has no real bearing on the reality of my day-to-day. I’m attempting to avoid thinking about the slow drains in the bathroom, or the headlight out in my car, or the loneliness I felt last week. At least, I’m trying not to focus solely on them, these reminders of a less-than-perfect life. There are other glad things to return to as well: my own bed, my overflowing bookshelves, my deck with its herbs (hopefully) surviving the rain, my church with my Scottish pastor, and my very real friends who have faces and who love me in my weaknesses. The Good, Very Good, and the Less Than Ideal are all joined together into a real and concrete state of blessedness.




If Callie Feyen tells you to go to a coffee shop, you go. The woman has a sixth sense when it comes to finding fantastic places to consume caffeine.

You’ll commit to it early in the day, when you find yourself with a grey afternoon of hanging clouds and scattered rains. You’ll encounter traffic, because this is DC, and the highways are never as clear as Google Maps make them seem. You’ll wonder if you’re being ridiculous. You’ll very nearly turn around. But the idea of going home to chores and the same furniture you always sit on will keep you driving west. You’ll have the right music playing, and soon you’ll realize your shoulders feel a little lighter.

You’ll walk in the door of Trinity House and a smile will break out immediately; this building was meant to have a coffee shop within its walls. The floors creak loudly as your steps take you to the kitchen in back,full of food and drink made just for grey Saturdays like this one. You’ll look at the menu and know you need tea and a grilled cheese, and soon you’ll have both and it will be just as comforting as you hoped.

imageYou’ll sit on the mustard yellow couch in the corner, near the window. You’ll read a little as you eat and collect your thoughts.Then you’ll settle in to write; you’ll try to wrap words around the vague calm resting across your back. Your pen won’t stop for a while, because this place makes you think about what beauty is and how peace and grace come in the moments when you most need but least expect them.

Before you’re ready it will be time to leave. You’ll hesitate and think about staying longer, but you’ll remember the drive is an hour long, and that time to rest in the quiet of roads through mountains is another gift today is waiting to give you. So you’ll drive on one-lane highway for miles, and it will take you past hills with hay bales placed just so, and in the background, mountains sporting little wisps of smoke from chimneys hidden behind pine trees. You’ll think of the word “glory”, and you’ll gasp with joy, even if that is cliche.

The road will widen from one lane to four, and you’ll start wishing you hadn’t left. But you can’t turn around, so instead you’ll cup memories of the day in your hands and remind yourself of last night’s prayer filled with quiet nouns: peace; contentment; calm; rest. You’ll think maybe this is God’s way of listening to you, and then you’ll smile.