Unknown v. 2.0

August 3rd slipped by this year without a hint of fanfare (unless you count a dirty house as a celebratory tradition); it was a normal Wednesday in a normal workweek in a normal summer, and it completely slipped my mind that this normal was once the sheer unknown gaping underneath.

Four years ago, we packed our lives into a motley assortment of boxes and tracked a thing with feathers across the Atlantic. Through miracle and determination, Dan had found a job here that fit his abilities perfectly, and the opportunity to finally, finally take on our dream was marvel and terror at once. Some nights, we danced in a buzz of ideas, lit from the inside out with the champagne-glow of adventure. Other nights, we lay creased in thought, my hand resting on the precious variable in my womb as the whens and hows circled like vultures overhead.

There was no gingerly edging off the beaten path, no feeling out each new step from the safety of solid ground, no road signs assuring prosperity in 4,500 miles. All we had was the blank expanse of possibility and the faith to leap, spurred on by knowing our options boiled down to courage or regret. We took the leap, and on August 3rd, 2007, we landed on Italian soil to begin forging our new normal. In the four years since, we’ve settled into the comfort of friendships and routine, language becoming ever less of a barrier and the Italian culture sinking ever deeper into our bones. It’s more than we could have hoped for when we boarded the jet back in Philadelphia…

…which makes this new drop-off all the more dizzying.

Dan has turned in his job resignation. It was necessary for a variety of reasons, and it was time, but oh. We’re here again with the buzzing ideas and circling questions, minus one occupied womb and plus one meticulously written business plan, and while there are possibilities that make our heads spin with goodness, they’re still only possibilities. Our now-normal has a windblown pang to it. I keep taking mental inventory against my better judgment and trying to work out which facets of our life—home? church? friends? money?—will still be in place come Christmas. My heart balks as the calendar pulls us forward.

Never mind that we wouldn’t be here in the first place without that leap off the edge of reason; I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want that momentary weightlessness above the dark pit of my imaginings. I don’t want to have to rely so completely on a divine intention I still have difficulty trusting (and sometimes believing at all). I just want someone who can peek into the future and put a stamp of guarantee on our steps before we plunge into them. I would like the risk eliminated altogether, thankyouverymuch.

But if I’m honest with myself, it’s only the narrowest bit of my mind that’s clinging to the notion of safety. The broader scope of who I am recognizes that ours, like any good story in the making, runs on the cogs of adventure. These tenuous days swinging between doubt and hope are paragraph spaces in an unfolding work of art that teaches us to live as protagonists rather than as background filler, and the process is nothing short of exhilarating.

It seems clear that August 3rd has served its time as a memorial to our story and is now ready to pass on the honor to a new date, a new landing—whenever and however it may be.

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  1. Holy Crap! You are so brave I cannot even believe it. I am such a non-risk-taker, I have never even been to Europe!

    Here is what I feel: There is a safety net somewhere beneath you, I don’t know how or what or where, but I can feel it there. You and your husband are amazing people, and I think that being amazing is your guarantee. You make your own. Look at all you have survived. This is another step into oblivion, but you know your way there. You have already made your map. I am so excited about your new adventure, and I can feel in my bones that it will turn out just how you want it. Maybe even by Christmas? But even if it takes a bit longer, it will be worth it. Sending you LOVE!

  2. Sending love and hugs your way, and praying for you all. God is good and faithful! Please keep us posted. Thank you for sharing through your gift of writing (because it’s a gift, you know?)

  3. Wheeeeeeee! Nothing like giant leaps to make you feel alive, eh? Hang in there, Bethany! Your safety net is made of love!

  4. Bethany,
    I just came across your blog, and can I just say – I love it! I love your writing style and skill, your bravery, and your honesty. Such a refreshing piece of the web! Also, reading your posts, I’ve found myself nodding along and shaking my head in agreement and amazement – it’s like being inside my own head at times. (Only better articulated!)
    Thanks for writing 🙂

  5. darling, you just hold on.
    you know what i tell myself every time something tragic / difficult / ohmygodiwanttoripmyeyesout painful happens? whenever someone yells at me or sends me a sugar-dipped evil email? i say:
    this is the stuff of a damn good story.

  6. i know this kind of flying so well myself… even only 4 months ago me (9 months pregnant) and my little family packed our things to leave our apartment with no idea where we were going. our belongings sat on a trailor… under an open barn… for TWO WEEKS while we figured it out! i thought of abraham… “so they went out, not knowing where they were going…”
    this is the stuff of hebrews 11 kind of faith. a lot easier said than done and only some are courageous enough to face it!
    for now, for us, we’ve landed for a season, at brian’s sister’s house…
    we don’t know when we are leaving, or where to…
    we’re in that momentary weightlessness. and we’re safe.
    you will be too.

    love from texas!


  7. Praying 🙂

  8. indeed, yikes. cuz that’s what we’re supposed to do when the world turns upside down. although I don’t ‘know’ know you, I gotta agree with what megsie said. just on a strong hunch. 😉 it’ll all be good.

  9. Wow, I had missed this. Just, wow. Brave. Brave is good.

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