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“Thank God for arrivals,” I text her.

I’m not really here, at her house. But the bursting out into the polluted air of the Big City that will soon cause my throat to burn feels like an arrival. It’s a relief, at least, from the belch-filled, body-odor scented air on the train, created by my seatmate.

We cram into a line to get an auto so we can actually arrive where we want to go. It’s tight and we guard our spot jealously, positioning elbows and luggage to ensure no one slips in ahead of us. I stand closer to the man in front of me than I would ever stand otherwise. My scarf flaps in the face of the man behind me, but he won’t move back. We watch suspiciously anyone who comes past us along the line.

There is not enough room.

***

“It sounds like you’re in a tunnel,” she says from the other end of the line.

I’m here, in my house. It’s the first time in a year that I’m in a space that’s mine. That I get to design and decorate. My personality, my goals, my style will fill this place.

Eventually.

For now, we sit on the floor, our legs sprawling. Suitcases serve as tables. Anything that can’t live on the floor is piled on the bed, the desk, the one shelf. I’ve made the space livable – a hot water heater, a fridge, plates. I’m overwhelmed by all of the space there is to fill. There no longer seems like enough of me to fill this place. So it’s left stark – like a sparse, budget motel.

There’s just too much room.

***

“I’ve really appreciated your last blog posts,” she writes in her email.

It has been so long since I’ve written anything. Ideas echoing in my brain like notes in a vacant opera hall. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, haven’t sat down to do it a hundred times. It’s that wringing out a coherent sentence has felt like trying to get comfortable in a room with no chairs. An unsettling emptiness that pokes in all the wrong places.

Instead, I’ve been sucking in words. Books like The Handmaid’s Tale and Rumors of Water and Spiritual Formation. Audiobooks and podcasts and sermons by David Platt. Feeling again the rhythm of story; running my mind over the arc of character; soaking in other places, other suns, other gardens. Letting truth seep into my hollowness. If none other, then the truth that in the broader story these moments of stress are only a page – perhaps only a paragraph.

Sitting in the sparseness, waiting to see what can be learned. Remembering when I lived in a one-room apartment with three other women, our different languages bumping into one another and I longed for space. Now embracing the echoing of my own voice back to me, knowing the season of fullness will arrive again.

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