Coming or Going — After March


by Judy A. Knox

Written in Illinois for an assignment in 2015 (my first snowbird year) called: “Springtime in Arizona”

Well, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it, and this year it fell to me: being the first “Joy of Writing” snowbird to fly the coop and migrate back to the chilly Midwest. This assignment reminded me of those “what I did last summer” compositions our teachers had us write every year when school resumed in the fall. Each of those teachers probably thought she’d come up with a new and different assignment for us, but it was what we actually came to expect.

I’ve been on many trips in the last three years, which means I’ve also experienced the joy of coming home the same number of times. No matter how much fun the trip was, how horizon-expanding, how valuable in building relationships with friends or family, the home-coming was always the same. I would breathe a sigh of relief as I entered my building, glad I’d managed to make it all the way to wherever and back without losing the key to my apartment and the fob that would let me into the building.

Upon entering my unit, I would look with satisfaction to see that my lovely home was just the way I had left it. Everything was in its right place, welcoming me into my own special part of the world. Seeing my furniture and pictures and other little treasures filled me with pleasure. I would think about the nice trip I had just enjoyed, but this was home and I was glad to be there.

This year, though, I experienced something a little different. When I returned home from Arizona, the joy of not having lost my key was the same as with any other trip. But as I entered the building, I noticed that it smelled strange. A building that is closed in to keep the weather out where it belongs is typically a little stuffy, smelling a bit like rubber and wet wool, nothing like the nice fresh air I had been enjoying in Arizona. All buildings smell that way in the winter, and when you live in the Midwest all the time, you don’t even notice it.

Then I opened the door to my unit. My kids had come over and taken down my Christmas tree for me while I was gone, but the furniture wasn’t put back quite the way it had been, and there were tree needles scattered on the floor in every room, even the bathroom – not those impossible-to-get-rid-of needles from a natural tree, but little green plastic strips, everywhere. I felt as if the unit was letting me know it did not appreciate my long absence.

I aired out the place, vacuumed up the needles, and rearranged furniture that was out of place, and soon everything was just as it should be. But why this unusual reaction? Well, I had become so at home in my house in Mesa that my Illinois abode felt strange at first. I hadn’t simply been on a trip. I had been living life, a very comfortable and satisfying life, down south. I have two homes now. The house I rent in Fountain of the Sun is home just as much as my condo in Illinois. How I will negotiate and navigate this snowbirdly existence is yet to be seen, but I know what I’ll be doing for the next few months: figuring out how to make it all work.

Everyone asks, “So how was Arizona?” What can I say? So I just telll them, “It was awesome!” That’s all most people want to hear. Because I missed most of the bad weather, the cold doesn’t really bother me. People seem glad to see me back, but obviously life has gone on very well without me, even as life in Fountain of the Sun will proceed smoothly without me now. 

Yes, I was only there for two months, but it was enough. I am hooked. I had expected to enjoy the weather, but God had lined up blessing upon blessing for me. I didn’t expect Him to provide me with a fun, friendly group of writers, a new friend to play music with, and an overwhelming sense of joy and peace that had been missing from my life lately. Up north I had become so busy with all my responsibilities that I hadn’t taken time to smell the flowers (well, there weren’t any to smell!) During my time at Fountain of the Sun I found rest for my mind and heart, something I didn’t even know I was needing.

I know God is always waiting for us to come quietly – or not so quietly – before Him and listen to His voice. Somehow I found that easier to do in Arizona. I am trying to maintain that attitude of peace and rest as I resume my life here. We’ll see how that goes.