Saturday, September 3, 2011

Moving Day: Finding Hope in the Dumpster

In a week and a half’s time, I secured an apartment in a new city, packed up my belongings and moved into a new home with a friend of mine from college. It didn’t hit me fully until I was taking one last look at my room and closing up the house that I was leaving my childhood home…possibly forever. Will I ever return to live there? Maybe, maybe not. I shed a few tears to let go of the home where I grew up since a baby. The rain was soon replaced by the brighter and more penetrating sunshine…

I love my new room, my new home, new town and the start of a new life. Some things are the same, like living in another rural Wisconsin city, but it is noisier here than in our quiet neighborhood, where I used to take evening walks or sit out front and watch the stars with my cat in my arms. Peaceful. The universe felt so big then. Today it feels so small, a good small, cozy, warm, my apartment nestled up here on the hill, overlooking restaurants and the main highway, surrounded by trees.

My desk is near the window – just like before. I can look out and nod my head at the trees that wave their limbs and shake their tousled heads back at me. Will be strange to call this “home,” although I feel comfortable here. No, upon further thought, it will never be “home,” defined as that place where love is nurtured by parents and brothers and sisters, the place of childhood play, teenage dreams and the home base of young adult exploration. A new kind of love must grow here, the love known as friendship.

The city noises will take some getting used to: the honking of the train that passes by at least once a day and the lulling melody of a neighbor's New Age music that drifts up to my bedroom window every evening. It's not obnoxious music, but the melody is repetitive and gets old real fast.

A surprise came from Dad. I hadn’t even been thinking of him yesterday at all, and then he showed up…

As I'm putting the pizza in the oven, my mom's friend asks if I have any tin foil or a baking sheet to put over the coils to catch drippings. Nope, don’t have tin foil. Nope, don’t have any baking sheets either at this point. So I decided to just throw it in, and, if necessary, clean up afterwards.

Dan decides to go take the paper garbage outside. When he comes back, he says, “Guess what I saw in the dumpster? …a cookie sheet!”

Yes, really. It was an almost spotless, shiny cookie sheet! So I tell him to bring it up, figuring that baking it at 400 degrees would sterilize it.

It was a Dad moment. You see, Dad’s favorite spot in the world was the Town of Empire dump! He’d always be over there seeing what treasures he could bring home and surprise the family with. The man at the dump would expect him and even save the best items for Dad. Dad brought all kinds of things home, including a bowling ball that doubled his score, a yellow checkered dress for me, and occasionally even presents for other people. We’ve always teased about the dump closing at the same time that Dad died.

As soon as Dan mentioned his find in the dumpster, I thought of Dad and knew in my heart that he wanted to be a part of my moving experience. He was watching me all grown up moving out on my own and wanted to say, "I'm proud of you, and I'm right here if you need me." Do you think he was sitting in spirit at the table with us, as the four of us, Dan, Mom, Marie and I ate pizza and corn on the cob? Was he sitting there, laughing with us? I believe he was, and he wanted me to know it.

There’s going to be new challenges now, but I’m trying to trust in the Lord. He has provided; He does provide; He will provide. There are a whole new set of worries that come from being on one’s own, supporting oneself, and I am only staring into the beginning of them. But it’s a happy time, a grace-filled time, one that calls for action, diligence, strength…and hope. Lots of hope.

In just the past few months, some of my friends and fellow bloggers also picked up and moved to new houses. Have you moved in the past year? If so, what things have given you hope in your move?


  1. What could be a better sign from Dad than a gift found in the dumpster? Too perfect. So happy for you to take this next road on your adventure, Sis. I'll be humming The Dump Song all day in honor of you and Dad.

  2. Hi Christina! Congrats on moving on to a new stage of your life. I'm sure that my own experience won't be long in coming ;) In addition to action, diligence, strength and hope I have been learning much about trust. That was probably my greatest lesson from my trip to World Youth Day (by the way, I'm so glad that I found you, haha :P). I think we all struggle with trust in the divine, especially in new and uncomfortable situations: going to another country, moving to a new town, starting college, even developing a new friendship! I could also identify with your "Dad" experience. I often look for such moments in my every-day activities in order to feel close to my sister. God is good! Much love and many blessings to you always!

    Veronica <3

  3. Jennie, thank you for your touching note...yes, you would understand quite well, sis. You remember the dump more than I do! I had forgotten about The Dump Song...haha! I just sang it for my roommate. I'm thankful to have older sisters who have done these big things before me.

    Veronica, I'm so happy we ran into each other randomly in Spain! It sounds like your pilgrimage experience was also stretching for you in many ways and you are "firmer in faith" because of it.