Monday, February 20, 2012

Letting my guard down

We've been in Kansas for over six months, and every day it feels more like home.

For the first month or two, every morning I felt like I was waking up in a hotel.  Now it feels like our room.

It took until month three or four until the roads felt comfortable, and then we got used to the fact that we could get around the area about 10x as quickly as we could in Houston. 

My job has been pretty good all along but lately it has clicked especially well, and I feel at home every weekday with new responsibilities, new teammates and new surroundings.

But one area of adjustment has taken longer, and only now am I beginning to understand how profound an adjsutment it is. 

Our home in Houston was a closed-off existence in many ways:

  -- Physically, the house was well off the street and separated by a detached garage and a privacy fence.  That privacy fence surrounded the entire (small) property very tightly, and from most windows in the house you couldn't really see anything.  Many days our window blinds stayed closed.
  -- Culturally, we had very little in common with the community.  No matter how big a game I talked, I never really broke through the racial, lingual and financial barriers that separated us from our neighbors.
  -- Recreationally, much of our time was spent indoors, since it wasn't safe for the kids to play outside alone and for a good chunk of the year it was just too hot!  At night it was cooler but again, we didn't know many people in the neighborhood, and besides you couldn't even see any stars from the middle of a big well-lit city!

All of those things have changed:

  -- Physically, our house is right on the street and we have no fence blocking off our yard.  Kids from all over come to play on our swingset and are always welcome.  Every morning after I get dressed, the first thing I do is open the blinds on many windows in the house.  I can see dozens of other houses around us.
  -- Culturally, those houses are filled with families who look much like us.  There are far fewer barriers to cross, and as a result we have made fast and easy friendships.  Our kids already have more friends, and closer relationships with those friends, than they were ever able to develop in Houston.  It's just a matter of them being able to spend more time with friends, since they're only a short walk away.
  --  Recreationally, we're outside a ton.  Kansas actually has distinct seasons and we've enjoyed a fun summer, a gorgeous autumn and an uncommonly mild winter.  Some nights we just sit on lawnchairs in the driveway with neighbors.  Every night I go out on our back deck and let the dogs out, gazing up at the hundreds of stars visible from this less-lit suburb.

Obviously in many ways we're blessed and we are enjoying these changes.  The only downside I see is that it might be easy to live in a way that's less conscious, less purposeful, since for the first time we're surrounded by people who mostly share our values.  It could be easy to just go with the flow of our community.

That might be seen as giving in to peer influence.  At the moment, I see it as letting my guard down and letting new friends in.


Debby said...

How strange your title struck me. I've been thinking hard about myself, and have decided that really, I need to work on letting my guard down. It feels to me as if I interact w/ people on a superficial level, that they are allowed into my life just so far. I'm not sure why that is, but I feel that I need to look at it.

Bob said...

Sounds like a great move, Michael.

Steve H. said...

I want one of those burgers you're cooking...

Michael said...


In general I'm working on humility, but with the burgers I'm shamelessly prideful. Although formerly a purist who thought a burger should have nothing but pepper in the mix, I now have a blend of Big Rick's Chipotle BBQ Sauce, eggs, steak seasonings and break crumbs that all goes with the meat. Comes out juicy and with so much flavor.

C'mon sprint season, get here quick so I can grill again!