Living in Two Places

Enough snow has melted that I can see the flower beds in the back yard of my new home. This is my first spring here and I am curious to see what will be blooming in the weeks and months ahead.

The flower beds at my old house were well-established, and each spring, I anticipated the daffodils popping up, followed by grape hyacinths and red tulips. I loved those rare springs when all three bloomed at the same time—a profusion of color to mark the end of winter. Now I am in a new house in a new “plant hardiness zone,” a bit further north than I am used to. I’m not sure what to expect.

Moving has its own kind of loss and its own grieving process. Like all grieving, it is not necessarily rational and orderly; it can be emotional and chaotic. I can easily feel torn between what was and what is becoming. As I compare what I had before to what I have now, I experience a bit of an emotional tug-of-war—I miss my old life and can even feel a bit guilty when I am having fun in my new life, as if I am being disloyal to the old.

While in transition, it is as though I am living in two places. My old friends and my old life stay with me as I build a new life in my new place. Gradually I get involved in the new place and move away from the old. It takes time, though, and I try not to rush it. It is a process.

At this point in my transition, much of my life is still in Pennsylvania. I talk with friends there fairly often; they keep me company even from this distance. If I did not have them, I fear I would be terribly lonely. But I am not lonely; I have friends. They just don’t live nearby.

I was talking with a friend in Pennsylvania the other day and she asked when I would be back. “I’ll be home in April,” I said, and then corrected myself, “I’ll be there in April.” I live in Michigan now; this is my home.

I am curious to see what will be growing in my flower beds this spring and summer—and also what shape my new life will take.





9 thoughts on “Living in Two Places

  1. 375writersbank

    Madeline. I have a friend who I would love for you to meet. She lives close to you and I think you would have a lot it common You are both in transitional journey, both independent woman, I just have to figure out how to get you together!

  2. Sister Anne Marie Lom

    Having just moved from a small home I shared with one other sister to our Motherhouse of 200 sisters, I understand the time transition takes. The pronouns are telling: “we” from the last place to saying “we” in this place signals that my transition is not complete. It is in process. Thank you for linking transition to the season of spring and the blooming of flowers.

  3. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Anne Marie, I sometimes think that as a culture we don’t honor our losses, transitions, changes with the respect and attention they need and deserve. I think we tend to be more focused on getting on without allowing the in-between steps of transition. When I moved to l’Arche, I went from one housemate to ten–and it was a huge transition. I imagine 200 requires some sort of sub-sectioning.

  4. John

    I don’t remember ever seeing the flowers in your garden, Madeline, but I certainly enjoyed the tomatoes–red, ripe, and sweet. I’ve had to move several times in the past few years. It wasn’t easy, but I eventually was happy in each new place. The spiritual life is a journey; I want to keep moving. And, for the same reasons–new experiences, new friends, and new challenges–I see value in the physical journey as well. In reality, the two go hand in hand. But I do miss those tomatoes!

  5. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    John, I was going to post a photo of my garden, but…. Yes, the tomatoes. My mom has a big garden here, so I am blessed with fresh veggies (and a place to play in the dirt). I am sure Lancaster has a farmer market with excellent tomatoes–or maybe some plants in pots on the patio will work.
    I, too, think moving is important–if not physically, then at least spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. As I reflected on this post, I thought of people who are too afraid to even change anything or move anywhere–and how poor their lives must be. So many blessings have come to me through an openness to change.

  6. Tatiana

    Dear Madeline, I’ve been in the USA almost eight years and every time when I plan my trip to Russia I still say “It is time to go home”. I know exactly what you are going through. And I hope that one day we both call our places “home”. Can not wait to see here, in Pennsylvania!


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