The husband and I in Bernal Heights, San Francisco
Since I was a kid, I've envisioned myself settling down comfortably in a Victorian townhome in San Francisco-- after traveling the world, winning an Oscar, and marrying Jonathan Taylor Thomas, of course.
Childhood dreams aside, the Bay Area is a truly unique place, full of diversity, life, and an amazing balance of cityscape and natural beauty. So it seems logical that over my entire life, I would develop such a deep, James Joyce-ian affinity for my hometown. And while some grow weary of returning to the place where they grew up once they've seen life in "the big city" or "the real world," my love for the Bay Area grows with every visit back home.
The husband and I still in Bernal Heights, San Francisco
This past stint back home made my childhood dream seem even sweeter. Driving through all the different districts of San Francisco, the East Bay, and down the Peninsula portion of I-280 made me long to forgo my world travels (and my Oscar, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and settle anywhere in the Bay forever. To finally feel "at home" in my favorite place in the world.
Bay Bridge Pier on Embarcadero, San Francisco
Yet this idyllic picture of my future weighed heavy in my heart, and I couldn't understand why. After getting married, isn't settling down the next logical step? Is it so wrong to desire to own property, to have a place to hang my hat and kick the boots of my feet?
Then it hit me. No, it's not wrong to desire to settle down, or to love my hometown, or to know how awesome the Bay Area is. But it is a burden to have my mind set on something that may not be in the plan God has prepared for me. It is a burden to feel that I have a right to the privilege of a comfortable home. And it is a burden to think that I actually need to own property to take off my hat and boots when I can just do it anywhere.
In less than a week, I will be returning to China-- a place that I have a love-hate relationship with. People keep asking if I plan on living there for much longer, to which I reply that I certainly hope not. But what I really should say is that I really have no idea, simply because it's not up to me.
And living with this mentality of not knowing is also living without the burden of trying to figure out how I'd manage to be able to afford a Victorian townhome in San Francisco, what district I'd like most, where I'd find a job to pay my impossible mortgage, and if living in San Francisco was the right move for my husband and me at all.
I can't say that I feel completely free of my desire to stay in the Bay Area, or in the United States for that matter. Leaving home has never been easy, and I don't expect that it ever will be. But I look forward to the day when leaving home is marked also by the great expectancy for what is to come, rather than the burden of fulfilling my expectations. I am grateful that we've been called to a place I really don't like at all, because I know that God will be faithful in showing me how small minded I am in the midst of His great plan. And I know that He has long prepared for me a home that far exceeds anything I could find in San Francisco.
Photos by the illustrious Emily.