I have an announcement to make:
Atlanta does brunch.
I mean, it really does brunch. In a no-mess-around, we-do-this-thang-dirty sort of way. I learned this yesterday. I get to report it as truth, as if I am some “brunch expert” that gets paid to eat eggs and smoked salmon (I wish) on the regular.
“I’m a New Yorker,” I said into the menu when he & I first sat down. “And this is actually terribly intimidating.”
The heavy brick lettering bulged off the page with options of grits and biscuits and french toast. You see-- we, New Yorkers, are prideful of our brunches. I can just admit that. Brunch is like a second religion in New York. We’re territorial over our bottomless mimosas and honey-glazed challah bread and I often have to go Hunger Games-style on anyone who tries to tell me they “brunch” in other cities. Call it a character flaw but there was literally this edging sense of competition within me while waiting for the food come out. I was ready to compare. I was ready to slam down over waffles.
Friends-- it wasn’t until the bacon drizzled in brown sugar was gone off the plate and the cups that once held honey vanilla lattes were sucked dry and lounging empty on the table that I realized you can’t really compare the two cities when it comes to brunches. It’s like trying to compare classical music to jazz. One has a funk. The other has a familiar feel. Each is beautiful unto it’s own style. Sometimes you just have to just bite your bottom lip and admit: I can take both. There is room in my life for both.
All this to say, brunch is just one of the many things that I am finding a hard time drawing a comparison between here and where a map would claim my home was located one week ago.
I’m a week into the south. I am a week in and comparison is really doing me no good. It’s all just different. Really different. It’s different to be surrounded by people you don’t know. It’s different to have to use a GPS for everything and feel helpless at the hands of Siri (she doesn’t even have hands, I don’t think). It’s different to suddenly have all these quiet, hollow moments where nothing can distract you long enough before something inside of you starts panting, “What am I doing? What am I seriously doing here? I know I wanted to be here. I said I wanted to be here. But why? What is really here? There’s no comfort here. There’s no ease here. Why do I have to start over? Why must I rebuild?”
That’s what we never plan for. We plan for growth. We plan (and hope) for acceptance. We plan for abundance. We plan for friends. We plan for adventure. But we don’t sit down and plan to rebuild. There’s that human thing inside of us that shies away from even the existence of the word “rebuilding’ because it’s just a hard thing. Seriously, everything about rebuilding feels hard. And I guess the human thing to do when the topic comes up is just put up our hands and say out loud, “Enough hard things. I don’t need another one.”
But those whispers are creeping in more and more as I get settled into a new home and I start to slowly understand that the suitcases must stay unpacked. Why do I have to rebuild? Why do I have to rebuild? Why do I have to rebuild?
I was standing in the middle of a beautiful church just this Sunday.
Like, really beautiful. Like, if you could mash the feelings you get when you hear Mumford & Sons together with the visuals from an Anthropologie catalog and call it “church”-- it was that kind of simple-beautiful. And I wanted to take everything in but I kept looking at the stage and wishing I was back in a place where I knew the people with the pretty voices and I could call them "friend." I kept wishing I was back in a place where you’d naturally feel someone put their arm around you in the middle of the service and it just felt safe-- like you were wanted in that place. And the whispers of my heart roared, “I don’t want to start over. Why are you asking me to? I don’t want to rebuild. Why am I back to feeling so small?”
The response to my questions was like a whiplash. I wasn’t even expecting an answer in that moment but it was like something made me snap to attention when out of nowhere I was smashed with an answer in the face. When something whispered back, “It’s because you are small. You’ve always been small. You are a fleck. You are a speck. But this is a different kind of small. The first time you felt small, it was out of the insignificance you used to make yourself wear. You felt small because you told yourself daily that you were small and unworthy and unlovable. This is a different kind of small. This is you, my dear, getting enveloped in something that’s bigger than you.”
I am small. I am a fleck. I am a speck. I kept saying to myself. That’s not to be misunderstood as insignificance. I carried the words out of the church with me: I used to be small because I made myself play small. Now I am small because all the best things are made up of something smaller. And I want to play my part. I came to a new place to play my part.
Speaking of small things, IKEA furniture is of the devil.
And if you wonder how I made the correlation between small things and demon-fashioned furniture then you’ve clearly never sat at the mercy of 6,349 screws and nails and other small parts that are supposed to all (somehow) get used to make a desk. Or a dresser. Or a table.
This first week in Georgia, I legitimately sat surrounded by a pile of pieces of wood and cried and made offerings to the ceiling and cut my hand open and screamed, “WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS?!” I was waiting for him to deliver some stupid metaphor to me that life is just about as confusing as IKEA furniture. But he didn’t. And he didn’t assemble the furniture for me (bummer, that would have been a cool miracle to share). He just sort of waited until the moment I humbled myself and I asked other people for help. It was a simple thing to do but the parts inside of me that are a constant feminist-Beyonce anthem on repeat wanted to do it all by myself. And I guess I was afraid no one would help me. But I asked for help. And, surprisingly, people helped. They helped. They showed up to my home. The girl brought me a bag of coffee beans and held it out to me, saying, “I heard coffee was your love language. Welcome home.”
And her husband rebuilt all the things I tried to build on my own while she and I just sat on the couch, pursing cups of tea, laughing and talking about mysteries like this one.
And just as they left my little home, and I placed the bag of coffee beans on my newly-assembled desk, the whisper came on back: “You are small. You are a fleck. You are a speck. That doesn’t mean you’re not capable.
Some things are just bigger than you. That’s why other people exist. It doesn’t matter “why” you have to rebuild. The real point is that you aren’t alone in a bit of it. You are not rebuilding alone.
You are small but you’re surrounded. Don't worry so much It's gonna be good.”
The following post was originally a part of the Monday Morning Secret Society Email Club Thang I send out every Monday. You should really get on the list. It received such an overwhelming response and seemed really pertinent to what a lot of people are going through as of lately so I made the decision to publish it here. Enjoy.