At least once a week someone asks me, “Are you feeling settled yet?”
“The moving boxes are all unpacked,” I’ll say, “And we figured out the back roads to avoid weekend winery traffic on 99W.” My answer implies a positive response, that we are indeed settled. In truth, I know that it will be months and years before we deeply belong to this place.
One night in early September we gathered with other school families to eat hamburgers and hot dogs, to mingle and chat for an hour before entering our children’s classrooms to sit in small desks and be oriented. This is not so different in Oregon than it was in Texas. With few exceptions, I know the drill. I can read the surface. What I don’t know is the deeper history.
My fourth grade daughter has a morning and an afternoon teacher. On orientation night these two women worked as a team, smoothly passing the baton back and forth as they briefed parents on what to expect for the coming year. My husband, who is their new boss, told me later that these women have taught as a team for something like ten years, and they’re the best of friends. No wonder they spoke so beautifully together on orientation night. There’s a whole lot of history between them, probably struggles and triumphs, too.
We were still on campus later that evening after most families had left. Standing under the porch light outside the school office, a different teacher asked me if I felt settled yet. I told her about the boxes and the back roads—but I didn’t stop there. Maybe it was me extending my heart, trying to go deeper. I told her my feeling that we won’t be truly settled until we’ve lived here for years, until we have logged hours and months and hardships and joys with our friends and neighbors. Although I long for that depth now, I know it doesn’t come quickly.
The teacher nodded. “Anything worth having takes time,” she said.
It will be a while before we’re truly settled. I will watch and wait for opportunities to extend hand and heart, but some of what it takes to develop deep friendships is purely the passage of time—living life together in community. Yes, it will take time. Anything does that’s worth having.