119. crib

Standard

cribverb: To pilfer or steal, especially to plagiarize; slang: One’s home; pad.

Regrets collect like old friends,
Here to relive your darkest moments—
I can see no way, I can see no way.
And all of the ghouls come out to play.
— Florence + the Machine, Shake It Out

Change is inevitable. That’s the way of evolution. It’s the driving force of the universe. If things stayed the way they were, nothing would exist.

I’ve called Minneapolis/Saint Paul home since August of 1993 when my family moved here from central Kansas, where we’d lived since 1986. Ever since we came up over a hill and the skyscrapers of Minneapolis came into view, I’ve never wanted to call anyplace else home—even after visiting England and Ireland in 2003. This is where my family is from, where my friends are, and where a million memories are connected to.

But over the past couple of months, like a person gradually losing their mother tongue and having it replaced by an alien language, it’s felt less like the home that it always has been.

A similar thing happened in 2007 when I left the church that had been home for 14 years and went off by myself to another church, where I’d be for the next three and a half years until finally becoming an atheist.

When we moved here in 1993, we quickly decided on a non-denominational church in Saint Paul. Everything about it felt just right—the people, the teaching, the Christian education programs for both adults and children. And we got involved right away. We got connected with the active homeschool community at the church, and soon we were there 3-4 days a week, including Sundays. There were music practices, AWANAS, clubs, and regular events.

Later I would join the adult choir at age 15, which became my special church family, and I honestly cherish every memory I have from that group. And we were good. We were not your typical warbly church choir. We were an auditioned ensemble—and voiced. Our music director was incredible, and we were seated according to how our voices blended.

Needless to say, there were a thousand things about that church that I loved. But then our pastor left after a coup of sorts by the executive pastor who was hired to basically turn us into a mega church. That eventually led to the installation of the pastor who is currently there, a much younger guy who had his own “hip” ideas about church. The sermons were watered down in content and quality. Services started resembling rock shows, with one of the pastors shifted over to overseeing production.

And then one day I was standing in church, looking around, and it suddenly hit me. “I don’t belong here anymore.” I couldn’t put my finger on it, but so much had gradually changed that it no longer resembled the church I had grown up in. It was someone else’s church. At the time I was working at the church as a custodian, and I continued to work there while going to Saturday services at the church I would eventually move to.

In the same way, Minneapolis and Saint Paul have ceased to feel like home. Only nothing about the city itself has changed. The people have. And I have.

For many reasons, this past Christmas I cut off all contact with my immediate family—my mom and dad, two younger sisters, a brother-on-law and a nephew.

Many of my friends have also either moved away, or gotten married and/or started families of their own. A very close-knit group of friends of mine scattered last year after about half of them moved away. I lived with two guys for about a year and a half until one of them moved out to move in with his girlfriend, and then the other guy was getting married so I moved in with my parents for a bit until I found a new place to live. They became my “church” after I left the other one.

Then there’s SafeHouse, the church that my friends are starting. For those of you who’ve never been in a church, there’s a closeness that comes with being part of one that makes everyone on the outside feel a bit alienated. It’s not intentional on their part. They’re just becoming a tribe. It’s basic sociology.

… there’s also Seth.

It feels like playground politics to say it, but he’s really become the line in the sand with my old group of friends. Before the night of my birthday in 2011, I had grown incredibly close with that set of people, and Seth (at least for me) quickly became the center of it all. He’s incredibly charismatic and likable. From the first time I heard about the kid who had been kicked out of his Christian parents’ home when he came out to them, to when I read his blog and fell in love with his words, to when I actually met him for coffee and fell in love with his personality and his incredibly piercing, beautiful blue-grey eyes, I was taken.

Then it all fell apart. Now he’s my friends’ pastor, and on one side of the line is me and on the other is all the pain and ugliness that lies between him and myself, as well as anyone who calls him “friend.” And I miss him terribly. There are few days where I don’t think about him or wonder what he’s up to, and wish things happened differently.

So I’m seriously contemplating relocating to Seattle this summer. It’s pointless to run from your problems, but neither is anything getting better; and sometimes a radical change of scenery can help, like women in Jane Austen novels vacationing in Bath.

There’s the need for physical distance between myself and Seth, from SafeHouse, and from the people in my life who I just don’t belong with anymore. And I can’t figure out who I am now as an atheist when I’m dragging this horse around with me.

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