Last Saturday, the air smelled like smoke. Wildfires in Northern MN and Canada, sent smoke down to the Twin Cities, creating air quality warnings and filling the air with the faint smell of smoke. When I woke up I went downstairs to make coffee and with the windows open, the cool morning air smelled just like Uganda: a bit of smoke, the smell of burning, cool air, and sunshine. My mind and heart were immediately brought back to a place I call home. I felt sentimental all day, thinking about my Ugandan friends, wondering how they are doing, and missing East Africa.
Contrast that sentimentality with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude 3 days earlier as I drove home from dinner with friends at a local restaurant. Gratitude for the city we live in, the community we are developing, the green leaves, and warm weather. I just felt so thankful for where we are now.
It was strange, in some ways, to feel such love for two very different places within a couple of days. I almost didn't know how to hold my love for both at the same time. It made my realize that my heart lives in both places, here in MN and in Uganda. And, if I'm honest, my heart lives in many places.
Sometimes I feel sad that I am not one of those people that has lived in ____ "my whole life". I think about how last month we traveled to Tuscon to attend my husband's best-friend-since-Kindgerten's wedding. I don't have a best friend since Kindergarten or a friend I've known my whole life.
But I have something just as precious: friends around the country and the world who have shared their stories with me and been a part of my story during the times in my life I needed them most. I'm realizing that with all the moving I've done, including at least five places in my twenties, my heart lives in a lot of places. I've left pieces of my heart behind that say, "I was here and I love this place. There are people here that I love."
I'm also realizing that neither situation is better than the other. It's not somehow better to have lived in one place for a lifetime and it's not better that I've moved a lot. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and the situations are just different. No matter if someone has moved a lot or if a heart lives in one place, we all have the power and choice to tell a good story. I've chosen to tell my story in many different places. Some people choose to tell their story in one place. But I'm learning that it's not the setting that makes the story. It's the characters. Our stories are beautiful because of how we choose to live and love others.
Ultimately, my story and my heart are scattered around the country and the world. And I am grateful.