Lost in the Land of Plenty

A lot has happened since I posted the beautiful piece from my daughter about falling in love with your neighborhood. We moved. Those two words are loaded with weeks of uncertainty, days of planning, and hours of conversation. We took all our earthly belongings out of a seven by ten foot storage unit and began to unpack in our little red house. We unpacked books and set up a kitchen. We made sure we had electricity, gas, and a parking permit so that the difficult Boston parking could be a fraction easier. We carried boxes upstairs and downstairs, unrolled rugs, and filled out a damage claim for a moving company, ruefully shaking our heads at broken glass from a favorite picture and favorite piece of furniture.

We took walks in our neighborhood, marveling at the old gas lamp posts that light our way at night and the church bells that ring on the hour. We hid boxes and hosted our first guests – and all of this in our first week. When you move a lot you know you have to plant quickly and pray that the transplanted roots take in the new soil. In our case, we wanted to make sure we started in the strong soil of hospitality.

The words and recall sound easy and pleasant, but along with that, every day this week I have gotten lost. Every day.

Last week I didn’t get lost. Last week my husband, who has an uncanny sense of direction, was around. If you take him to a city anywhere in the world and allow him to explore for half an hour, you can then blindfold him, turn him around three times, and tell him to find all the land marks within a 10-mile radius. He will be able to take you to said landmarks, even if he doesn’t speak a word of whatever language is spoken in the area. It’s remarkable.

I am not him. If you take me to a place I should know (like Boston) and you turn me around three times with my eyes wide open I will get lost.

So every day this week I got lost. I got lost in a land with English signs posted everywhere. I got lost on street corners and highways, around rotaries, and in grocery stores. I made traffic mistakes and wandered dazed through stores. I even got lost after I asked for directions!

It is uncanny how easily I become lost in the country that holds a legal claim on my life.

It was (of course) in the grocery store where the “lostness” manifest itself most profoundly. I wandered around for many minutes, only to get stuck between pasta and tomato paste. The cereal aisle I would understand. Many of us understand paralysis in the cereal aisle. But pasta? Tomato paste? You can find those things in almost any little grocery store in the world. We have found it in tiny shops in Egypt and tinier shops in Kurdistan. It’s everywhere. So how did I get lost?

Eventually I found my way out, only to get lost going home. To understand the severity of my ‘lost’ syndrome, you need to know that my new home is only a ten minute walk from the grocery store.

Here’s the thing: I did not only get lost – I AM lost. I am lost physically and I am lost metaphorically.

I feel lost in the land of plenty. Lost in choice and direction; lost of ideas and dreams; lost of context and future.

I am lost in grocery stores and I am lost in the online search for meaningful work. I am lost in job descriptions and legalese. I am lost in questions.

As I look for the next right thing, I am achingly, painfully, humorously lost.

I have been in this place before, and I know it can’t be rushed. I know that I need to stop, pull over, and breathe.

So that’s what I’ve done. At one point I pulled over to the side of the road and I took a deep breath. I looked at my phone to determine directions. At the grocery store I headed towards the floral section. There in the midst of the beauty of bouquets and greenery, I took a minute to breathe. Again, as I found myself going around a rotary when I should have been heading to the highway, I had to pull over. Only after I pulled over and took a moment to breathe could I move forward.

This physical, mental, and emotional sense of being lost? It’s going to take some time so I’d best stop and breathe.

As my friend Neil says so well:

home’s the skin we live
in, moving its shedding; you
now new and tender

they say you leave your
heart, i say your lungs; it may
take some time to breathe

From Haiku on Moving – For Friends Newly Moved by Neil Das

12 thoughts on “Lost in the Land of Plenty

  1. I moved to Boston for grad school in 1986, single and on my own, away from everyone I knew for the first time. Getting lost was a daily occurrence for me as well. Driving from my work at a hospital on the south side to my house on the north shore was a work of determination and exercise in trying to find a shorter route. Grocery stores were confounding. My first 6 weeks were nothing but tiring as I learned the landscape of my new home and realized how much I had taken for granted. Those sweeping changes are tough, but I think it helped me grow in ways I never would have had I not taken that leap into the unknown.

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  2. I completely understand. We bought a house in Michigan, sight unseen, except for some photos on Realtor.com. I thought we might need to do some remodeling, not a lot. Well, suddenly we were faced with a major renovation when hubby wanted an addition to the back, which then became tear the back end off the house and build from foundations up! So this summer we have been lost in meetings, plans, colours, fixtures, lighting, and a billion other details. Most of the time I’m fine, but last night it all got overwhelming and I felt like I might never find my way to the end. The building actually starts in April, but we have to have it nailed down by December, because we’ll be in another state for the Spring.

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    1. So sorry I am late in responding, but thank you for this. I feel like I’m in the midst of a life renovation so can relate so well. Good luck seems inadequate to say to you. I’m so with you on the difficulty of this.

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  3. I have a terrible sense of direction so with you there 😂Feeling lost however can happen anywhere & at the minute my lost ness is due to my youngest daughter leaving for uni across the sea.Pray we both find our feet in this confusing season- 🙏🏻

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  4. Oh, dear Marilyn, I’m so sorry it’s so hard! And I’m so glad for myself that I don’t expect to move again until the good Lord calls me Home. There will be no feeling lost there – I will instantly know I’m Home for good and always. Until the confusion, this uncomfortable newness, is behind you, I’m thankful that each time you arrive back home, you have this lovely place of peace, your new home. Love you so much

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  5. I can only imagine. And I wonder when it will be our turn. Thanks for sharing. warmly Donna in Istanbul

    On Fri, Sep 13, 2019, 11:59 AM Marilyn R. Gardner wrote:

    > Marilyn posted: ” A lot has happened since I posted the beautiful piece > from my daughter about falling in love with your neighborhood. We moved. > Those two words are loaded with weeks of uncertainty, days of planning, and > hours of conversation. We took all our earthly ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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