It is bizarre to me that this was my last day at CHAT.
I still remember my very first moments here...
Walking into the backyard of The Lighthouse tutoring site, running around with kids tossing jump ropes and balls, dashing up the back steps and into the tight hallway of the house, thinking to myself...
What is this strange place, and how does it feel so like home?
Home is the best way that I can describe my time here. Maybe it has reminded me of my childhood with its messy, free-spiritedness. Maybe the small houses and spaces that hold programs remind me of the little downstairs apartment that I grew up in, when it was mostly just me and my parents — a couple in their early twenties, just starting out, content in the little two bedroom apartment in that little New Jersey town, before my father's job and my incoming siblings gave way to nicer, roomier homes.
I miss that tiny apartment though. I was such good friends with my neighbor next door, Matthew — I’d play basketball with him when I got home from school and saw him in his driveway, dribbling and shooting. And I was good friends with my neighbor upstairs, Matty — I’d run up the tall, thin staircase in the front hall and stand on the little ledge before their door, knocking, “Can Matty play?” And Mrs. McGrath, the old woman next door, gave me cookies when I saw her, and let me help her in her garden. And there was the girl who lived down the block, and my best friend lived down the block the other way, and then the twins, my age, who my mom watched after school. And I could go on.
Yes, this must be why I fell in love with CHAT. God designed it that home would not become, in my heart and memory, the place where you go mostly to be alone and quiet, though I had and loved those moments too. Home is where you share your life, and laughter, and loudness.
And learning, like sitting on the living room playing Hooked on Phonics games with my father. And exercise, like jumping around in the living room doing TaeBo. And spiritual growth, like sitting on the living room floor praying that Jesus would enter my heart with my mother. And being corrected, like when I lied about my bad grade on my third grade test, and had to face both of my parents in the harsh light of my pitiful, poorly-formed lie. And succeeding, like when I learned to ride my bike in the street right out front, without a hand holding behind me. And dreaming, like running all through the house pretending to film a movie with my sister and my younger cousin.
For three years, I have watched all those aspects of home unfold here.
I see children sitting with tutors and reading, jumping around in Wacky Wednesday classes and recreation, engaging with and learning about scriptures shared and discussed around and with them, standing in the spaces of firm, compassionate correction; and I see these young people succeeding — I see them in the workshop building beautiful items, and in the gardens brining life from the soil, bringing poetry and yearbooks and even museum exhibits(!) into existence through classes and programs they participate in, and I see them in the grocery store and at Target, working jobs they applied for and received and have thrived in. I see them on Facebook, talking about the college courses they’re taking, and posting pictures with their children or younger family members who they love and now guide, as their families and people in this community once guided them.
Home. I'm a little amazed at myself.
How can I leave this place? But I know that my time here has reached, if not an end, an intermission. It’s something of a feeling, and it’s something of a series of practicalities too. I have chosen to say — not goodbye, but — see you around, I suppose, is a better fit. I'll be here in the neighborhood, and I'll be interacting with my coworkers and these students and programs for sure, but my path is turning some.
Starting in January, I will be nannying for two families. For one family I will care for two of their children, ages 4 months and 2 years; and for the other I will care for one child, also age 4 months. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this opportunity.
You may wonder, what are you doing, Cheyenne? Aren’t you a designer or a photographer or a doula or a writer?
Yes. I am. And in January, I will be a nanny. Not in addition to all the other things, though I know I will have tidbits of them mixed in here and there, when I am able to mix them in.
I told my mother recently that I don’t feel like a career person, and her incredibly funny (and totally unexpected) reply was, “Do you feel like a homeless person?” I laugh, because she’s hilarious and I love her, and I understand that I need work to support myself, obviously! (Insert Destiny Child’s Bills, Bills, Bills, here.)
But I know in my deepest heart that I am not wrong to not feel like a career person, at least, certainly not right now. What the world considers success, I do not. Sometimes I mourn this, because how much easier would it be if I did. I could be working some job aligned with the normal degree I got in college. But then I wouldn’t be me.
Some people see me as quiet and reserved and therefore unadventurous. These people misunderstand. Every season of my life is an adventure in drawing closer to my purpose, to my reason for being created, and to the One who created me.
In the past three years since college, God drew me to this place of home, where I have grown immeasurably, and been blessed with so many beautiful moments, joyous and difficult.
I love my kind of crazy, scattered, nonconforming life!
I’m so excited. I am so excited. I am SO excited, to see where He takes me in this next season; and I’m pleased as peaches that I get to begin it caring for three beautiful little children in the city I love.
Thank you all for all you've done to support me. Thank you for all you've done to support this organization, which I love. And don’t be a stranger, now. Please feel free to reply, comment, call, anything!
I wonder if others feel similarly to me, excited for that first breath of 2017, if for no other reason, simply because it will no longer be 2016.
Do you feel like that? Do you feel the new season’s wind blowing? Are you excited to? What are you excited for? I'd love to know.
With all my love,