I graduated college (by the skin of my teeth and the grace of Deborah Huff and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ hallelujah hallelujah amen) in May 2015.
Then I moved to Colorado for the summer. Then I moved back to Lynchburg. Then I moved to Austin. And then I moved to Katy! And now, I'm moving to Dallas (Allen/McKinney, actually, if you want to get technical), where the Lord has informed me we will be staying a while. For real this time.
But my point is, I've moved a lot.
And honestly, I've gotten pretty good at it. I put down roots quick. This is partially due to Jesus and necessity, of course; and my close friends (most of whom are avid stayers, not goers, and for whom the frequency of my moves would be an utter nightmare) swear it's simply a personality thing. (To put it like a family friend/mentor once did, "You're like a cockroach — you could survive anywhere!" Thanks, Clay Barton. Really appreciate the comparison.)
But on a purely practical level, there are also some things I've learned along the way that allow me to set up shop quickly in new surroundings. Since I'm once again in the process, I figured this would be a good opportunity to share some of those.
First things first: get your bearings.
What places do you need to feel at home? Where do you go over and over, wherever you call home now? Prioritize finding their equivalents in a new place. It gets your basics covered.
The first two practical places I have to find are my church and my grocery store, for obvious reasons. Community, for the former — a certain level of familiarity even in the unfamiliar — and the chance to serve, since rolling up my sleeves is the quickest way to feel like I belong somewhere. The latter because A) I kind of need food and B) knowing the fastest route to weave through aisles to the coffee creamer is a comfort and confidence booster when I don't know the fastest route to anything else in a hundred-mile radius. (I may be low man on the totem pole everywhere else in this city right now, but this Kroger is mine, peasants!)
Then, the personal trifecta. I need to find my:
- Coffee shop. Must be independent, not a chain. The only exception to this rule would be a Tim Hortons, and there are no Tim Hortons anywhere I have lived, so it stands and stands firmly. The coffee must be good. Atmosphere is a plus, but not a necessity. Beggars can't always be choosers, depending on the location, you know? (In imaginationless, chain-run Katy, for example, I don't think Cocohodo's atmosphere is all that great, but I spend a lot of time there, because their espresso is awesome. Proud Pie's atmosphere is better, but the espresso isn't as good. And those are the only two independent options I have. You feel?)
- Green space. I'm an Austin girl. Take me to the trees. I need a park, a trail system, some expanse of minimally landscaped land where I can get some sunshine and some breathing room. In Colorado, all that required was walking out the door. (A moment of silence for the mountains I miss.) Lynchburg's Blue Ridge Mountains are no Rockies, but they more than got the job done. In Austin, it was Zilker and Town Lake — though the Greenbelt was always there when I felt more adventurous or, this last round, Bee Cave Central Park in a pinch. Not to be dramatic, but George Bush Park is the only thing that makes Katy as a geographic location tolerable. You get the point. This is important to me.
- Running route. For mental health and happiness. To allow my body to catch up with my brain and bring it all in balance. And because it's the cheapest, easiest workout, and therefore my inevitable go-to. (Major bonus points if it's within the aforementioned green space!)
In every place I've called home, these are the three places that have most made it feel so. They're the touch points I look for and the places I need while I'm finding my place. (What are yours?)
Figure out your places, then go find them. That's how you get your bearings.