Make Yourself at Home

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It’s almost been a year since our move to San Diego

With this week’s sweet dosage of rainfall, I’m totally brought back to where I was a year ago: Oregon, waiting to hear back from job prospects and to find out where I’d be living next.

A part of me really wanted to stay in Oregon. Maybe find a different place somewhere around Portland. When I moved there initially, I thought it could be a long term home. The nature, the creative culture, and the simpler way of living were right up my alley. After living there for a few years, Deanna and I had started to feel more connected. Then we learned we’d be moving.

The opportunity to join the Plant With Purpose team was the sort of thing I couldn’t say no to. And living in San Diego was an appealing thing we’d also considered. Deanna was drawn to the idea of living closer to our families, and there were some things I really missed in California– namely a bunch of old friends and the cultural diversity that Oregon lacked.

We moved here nearly a year ago. I was mostly excited, though when I left San Diego as an 18 year old, I never expected to return. It was the origin point I was supposed to leave in order to make a different place my home. I had done that in Santa Barbara already. I was in the process of it in Oregon.

Now that I’ve been back here for nearly a year, I’ve started to understand that just because I grew up here doesn’t mean it’ll automatically be home. 

Home is more than just an address line. Home is why Sacramento felt like a supporting actor in Lady Bird and why the Gilmore Girls just wouldn’t work in Miami. Home means community, belonging, and setting. These things don’t happen by default. They’ve gotta be built.

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Building community matters to me more and more

The closer I creep toward 30, the more I feel a sense of urgency to go beyond discovering the sort of life I’d like to live and to actually build it. At this point, I’ve had enough of a sample size to know that the happiest seasons in my life were ones where I’ve felt the richest sense of belonging. Times where I was a part of an active community were extremely life giving.

I also know that there’s nothing like a rich, rewarding friendship that has lasted for years and years. I get to tap back into that, mostly at people’s weddings now. We’ll finally get all the long lost friends in one place and in one night it can feel like picking up right where you left off. It’s like that LCD Soundsystem song says– you spend the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again.

Maybe that decade referred to shows up somewhere between your 20s and 30s. One night, you’re all sitting around somebody’s crappy apartment with cheap beer talking about the places you’d want to see or the jobs you want to apply for. It’s hard, but you’re eventually successful. You get jobs and degrees and new opportunities. And everyone’s happy for each other, but also miles and miles apart.

The challenge shows up when most of my deep relationships are spread all over the map. It puts a good incentive on going to travel, but it does make it harder to experience that deep connection on a consistent basis.

While I’m thankful for connections that cover the globe and don’t want to stop putting in the effort to maintain them, I also realize that it’s time to build some right where I am.

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Making a big impact calls for a long-term investment

One thing I know that I for sure want out of life is the opportunity to have an impact on the place I live and the people around me. I want to wake up to things being different in ten years than they are today, and I’d love to have played a part in making that change.

I’ve spent the past several years moving frequently, traveling often, and seeing life look totally different on a yearly basis. I have no regrets about that. I learned more and lived more than I ever thought possible. I am excited for what’s next, though.

I've met so many amazing people who were doing incredible things in the places where they poured into deeply. The Teacher in South Africa who poured everything into making sure the kids she looked after were getting the best education they could get. The Family in Mexico who opened up their doors every year for the whole community to celebrate. The Evangelist in Thailand who rode his motorcycle up and down the river every day, teaching villagers how to read.

These examples, among many others, reminded me that impact rarely comes in a single moment of heroism. Most often, it looks like showing up to do the hard work, day after day.

It’s really hard to do work that involves consistently showing up without a home base. The more and more I encountered people making this sort of difference, the more I kept thinking to myself– one day, when I know where I’m gonna live long term, I’d hope to be that sort of person in the community.

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It’s exciting to know the best versions of ourselves are yet to come

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve lived somewhere long enough to really dig in deep. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived somewhere that didn’t seem to come with an expiration date. I think the last time might’ve been in Santa Barbara, in 2012. And that was college… so, that kind of was an expiration date that I tried to ignore.

Anyways, it does feel really good to be living somewhere without having to think about moving out at some point down the road. Which isn’t to say it’ll never happen, but it’s not set and not intended and would be quite a surprise.

I think that people become the best versions of themselves when they are able to plug into a community and start giving of themselves. I think you often see a person’s deepest values and truest nature when you take enough steps back to get a look at the things they’ve shown up for, perhaps quietly, every single day for a very long time.

It’s exciting that even though we’ve been in San Diego for almost a year, it’s still a beginning stage. And I know there’s a lot of work to do and patience required when it comes to building a community and building things here that are meant to give back. I’m still trying to gain a sense of community out of a random selection of friends who know each other from totally different parts of life. But it’s also an exciting stage. One that calls for a little more saying yes. A little more inviting others. A little more wonder at new sights and sounds.

Philippe Lazaro2018, blog, blog18