While I sit in the car, the traffic noise washes over me. Karen has a routine doctor’s appointment and we are in Green Bay for the first time since early March.
Door County has the same noises—cars rolling past, trucks rumbling about, even sirens in the distance rushing salvation to someone. Here, everything overlaps. I can pull the strands of each sound apart, but here, they combine to create a dissonant song. I have missed the city, not just for the Chinese food, but for the noise.
Not too long ago, friends brought Taye to Door County from Milwaukee. As night came, he finally said, “Man it’s quiet up here.” The rhythm of perpetual traffic, music, and conversation attuned his ears to that song. The noise in his life stood in deep contrast to the quiet of Door County.
How do we acclimate? How do we adjust? How long does it take to become comfortable and situated in a new environment?
Figuratively, we have literally moved residences in the last three months. Most of us live at the same address, but our location has changed. Most of us have not literally moved to a new place, but we have all figuratively moved to a new place. We find ourselves in completely foreign territory, even on such familiar and holy ground.
As someone who has relocated often, I share two pieces of advice. First, upon arrival, unpack ASAP. Getting settled can only begin by getting unpacked and getting rid of the boxes—boxes symbolize transition. (This is a do as I say, not as I do rule. We still have boxes in the basement that landed there ten years ago.)
The second piece of advice—learn the secrets of your new home. Exploration and experience provide a sense of familiarity which grows into comfortability.
Case in point, when we moved into the parsonage in Hope, a strange contraption in the basement ritually made A LOT of noise every three or four nights around 2 a.m. I called one of the Trustees to help me understand this magical beast. It was a water softener. I grew up around some of the softest, naturally limestone filtered water—no one I knew had a water softener. That house was always full of surprises—salamanders in the summer, mice nests in the dryer duct, etc. Each new place I’ve lived in brings a new set of sounds, sights, smells, and textures with which to contend. 2020 is not different. Despite the relative familiarity, we are in decidedly unfamiliar territory.
Unpack ASAP. Unpack your baggage, your emotions, your assumptions of normalcy. Unpack what you think you thought you knew about 2020. Hold on to your hopes and dreams but let go of your approaches to achieving them.
Learn the secrets of this new, old environment. Experience and exploration will give us some good stories AND provide us all with some much needed security and comfort. The secrets of this new era will befriend us and guide us.
Hang in there, friends.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.