Standing at the corner of 25th and Geary I waited in frustration hoping the bus would get there faster than the predicted time and standing in the middle of the lane searching for a taxi. Taxis don't go to the Richmond on Sunday mornings, or at least they didn't yesterday morning. I was running late. I had gone to sleep at 2:30 Saturday night after working my new part time gig for a photo booth company. Four hours of sleep and a few early morning errands later the bus was making me late and I needed to be at church on time because my kids were singing during the service. The bus was not coming, in fact the predicted time was now later than it had been a few minutes earlier.
Finally it arrived. When it reached my stop I ran most of the remaining blocks, I was still late. The service had started and I needed to slip into the front two rows.
It was earlier in the service than I thought and I was there in time to settle in for a second. I found my seat surrounded my children that are not accustomed to sitting still during service. I took a deep breath and let the songs of advent surround me.
I have decided to stay in SF this Christmas. It will be my first Christmas day to wake up away from my family. Up until yesterday I faced this reality with nervousness, but yesterday morning something wonderful happened: I felt very much at home. I helped position a bunch of rambunctious children on stage to sing at church, I sat on the floor to help guide them as they sang and I realized what it meant to build a real life here in San Francisco. Specifically, I realized that building a real life is staying here. It is waking up here on Christmas morning and not missing a single Advent Sunday between now and then. It is running late and slipping in just in time and sharing moments with people, especially those awkward moments of slipping around the row of seats in a full sanctuary in view of everyone so I can encourage 2 small boys that hitting each other is not a good way to participate in service, even if the other boy is being loud. As I realized this I got excited. As I have posted many times it is a thrill to me that I get to live here.
Over the next few weeks the chaos of the city will ebb just in time for me to take some deep breaths before heading off to Christmas eve service. I will do some more Christmas decorating (I still need/want a tree) and I am excited about setting up a small orphan Christmas Eve late night cocktail party, but more than any of that I am excited about doing it all while I am at home.
Yes, I will miss my parents, my sisters, their husbands, and their precious children, but on Christmas I will wake up in my own bed, walk my streets where I live, ride my bike to a dear friends home, and see my city bright with Christmas lights. I will experience longing for the day my family joins me in my life here, but that bitter sweet longing will only enhance my appreciation for the families here that open their homes to me, it will also increase my empathy for anyone that has faced the challenge of creating a home away from home, it will enhance my love for the stranger amongst us.
I am excited to have my first Christmas here and to make this place home.