In 2006, we said, “Hello, Grand Rapids, Michigan.”
11 years later, we are saying goodbye.
It’s been hard to write this post. How does one try to sum up over a decade of experiences into one post?
I’d like to say that it’s been a blast, but it hasn’t. Grand Rapids was not an easy place to live. Although much has changed, there is much more that needs to be done to make it more accessible to all groups of people. But I suppose that takes time, and I will have to read about those changes from the east coast.
RELATED: Final Farewell from Cyprus
So rather than harp on the negatives, I’d rather focus on the positives.
1. We began our life together as husband and wife here.
2. Our two boys were born and raised here.
3. We bought our first home here.
4. We were fortunate to cultivate wonderful friendships here.
1. I learned that languages are not for me.
I tried to learn Mandarin for four years. After retaking an upper-level course, I asked my professor and friend if this is it for me. He gave me some honest advice, and said, “Betty, you have given it a good four years. You’ve learned all that you could, and now it’s time to move on….” well, something like that anyway. It was what I needed to stop and learn that it was time to move on.
2. I learned that I love art.
I started taking photography classes because of blogging. I wanted to be a better photographer to take better photos of our children, but something in my introductory course sparked an interest in me. It ignited a desire to think and be creative in ways I had never explored.
3. I grew to love Grand Rapids or at the very least enjoy this city that God placed me in.
I don’t talk about my faith much on the blog, but I had become bitter about living in Grand Rapids – to the point where I put people at arm’s length, closing myself off. It’s not a healthy way to live, I know, but that’s how I preferred to protect myself from the world.
Cyprus helped to free me from my frustrations about the church and people in Grand Rapids, but it wasn’t until we came back from Hungary when I appreciated the place God placed me (our family) in. Hungary was even darker and drearier than Grand Rapids, and the refugee crisis brought about the difficulties of discrimination and insular culture even more. Thus, when I came back, my perspective about Grand Rapids changed. It wasn’t that the people of GR or the culture changed. It was me, and God opened my eyes to appreciate the place that He brought us here 11 years ago.
But God had other plans.
Prof got a job in NYC, and we were moving.
We are moving. In fact, as you read this, our family is making the cross country drive to the east coast.
I have no idea. And that’s okay.
Maybe I’ll take a trip to different boroughs of New York and share those experiences. Maybe I’ll get a full-time job and call Traveling Seouls quits. Maybe I’ll become an artist and take photographs of social injustices like Jacob Riis or creative images like Cindy Sherman.
As long as we are together as a family, it doesn’t matter. We are together.
Farewell, Michigan and friends. It’s never a good bye, but more of a see you later.