The Year I Stayed

This past weekend, my roommate and I went to my coworker’s house for a scrapbooking day. Call me corny, but I love scrapbooking–it’s a way for me to remember all of the phenomenal experiences I’ve been blessed to have. I’m not a phenomenal scrapbooker and don’t go all out, but there’s something sacred about putting a picture on a page and memorializing it.

My coworker and roommate were looking through my life¬†scrapbook. By the time we flipped to my college years, it was fun to hear my roommate go, “Hey look, it’s me!” We’ve been friends since freshman year of college. “I like seeing where I appear in cross-sections of your life,” she said later.

As I thought about how so many of the people who are important to me reappear in random places, I was reminded again how blessed I am to have sustained relationships with so many people across the globe.

But I also realized that sometime it doesn’t take cool stories to have a meaningful life.

A few weeks ago I got a card in the mail from a friend who’s baby shower I’d attended a couple of weeks previously. She’s a friend I met while I was student teaching, and somehow kept in touch with after I moved to North Carolina and made an effort to see every time I came back up to visit. I was flattered when I read in the card that she felt I’d become one of the closest friends she has.

As a TCK, I tend to measure my life by travel, countries, and cool stories (how many other people can say that they’ve lived in a 700 year old monastery??). These are the stories that make people ooh and ahh around the table, and give you cool points in a social gathering.

But realizing the impact that simply being present in a location for a year can have made me realize that life’s value extends far beyond where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Life’s value also comes from the relationships that are built. When you’re building them, it doesn’t always feel like you’re doing much. They don’t always come with cool stories that start with, “That time I was in Thailand.” But they mean that people matter.

I almost moved abroad again this year. I think I would have had a lovely time in Turkey if I had. But I also think I would have missed out on some meaningful relationships from this year. And for those relationships, I’ll be forever grateful.


2 thoughts on “The Year I Stayed

  1. Amanda says:

    Wow, this really spoke to me! We’re living in the US for the third time on this adventure called military life. I know so many other Australians are using their time here to travel and see the country and take the opportunity to be so much closer to the rest of the world than we are back in Aus. Their many vacations sound amazing. This time though my family are making the most of the “everyday”- playdates, the PTA, hanging out at the pool, local sightseeing, big get togethers at our house, weekend trips to the snow and beach, visiting our family on the West Coast and my new favorite hobby of running with my running group. Sometimes when I have the occasional catch up with other Australians I feel like our life is far less glamorous than theirs but then I stop and realize how much all of the things we’ve done and the people we’re doing them with mean to me and the memories we’ll take with us and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • lowen17 says:

      Thanks for sharing Amanda! I’m glad to know these thoughts run through other people’s minds as well. This is definitely something I’m still learning (especially since it took me until March to start to figure it out!).

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