One year


It’s hard to believe – impossible to believe – but one year ago today I moved away from Seattle. I just went back and re-read the entry I wrote that day, and it remains one of the most honest things I have ever written; it hits at a deep place, even 365 days later… excuse me – 366. It was a Leap Year.

When I left, I didn’t have a real sense of how long I would be gone, but at my core, I hoped that it would be less than a year. You know: go find myself, get it over with already, and then quickly head home – preferably to get married and buy a house and have babies. The past year has exposed the extent to which I have desired the American Dream – I didn’t realize how much I wanted it until I willingly chose such a solo and unstable lifestyle. In my discomfort, I have longed for comfort. In my confusion, I have longed for clarity. In my chaos, I have longed for calm.

In my anonymity, I have longed to be known.

Moving is, if nothing else, very lonely.

But the past year has also taught me that life is not a checklist; it cannot be a checklist. I cannot look at my circumstances and think, “Once I get this-and-that,” or “When I achieve such-and-so,” I will be one step closer to success, wholeness, and legitimacy. I cannot expect that the American Dream is going to make me happy, because honestly, I am watching it fall flat for people all around me. A home does not equal stability. Money does not equal contentment. And most tragically, love does not necessarily equal forever.

I still hope for these things. In my most honest moments, I have a deep desire for a good and honorable man to share my life with – one whom I will love wholeheartedly and unequivocally. I want babies of my own. I want family vacations and birthday parties and a Bernese Mountain Dog and all of the wonderful goods damnably reserved for wedding registrations. I want a car with keyless entry and a house with a walk-in closet.

Maybe these things are in the cards for me. Maybe not.

But more than anything, I want to walk the road intended for me. And right now, that road continues here in Nashville. It’s all that I have, and it’s all that I am, and despite all feelings to the contrary, I am never alone.



  1. Sarah on September 10, 2008 at 9:32 AM

    Well said.

    You remind me that in the ways I am waiting for my life to start, currently “when I get the h— out of nursing school…” – and how my life is happening now, so I had better be doing what the Lord has for me.

    Hope to come visit you in the Nash soon!

  2. Deborah Barnett on September 10, 2008 at 9:42 AM

    your final comment: “And right now, that road continues here in Nashville. It’s all that I have…”

    Actually, the world is your playground. You can go anywhere you want. So, Nashville is not all you “have”… it’s all you “choose”.

    And I for one, am glad. o)

  3. Case and Los on September 10, 2008 at 11:06 AM

    YOU want a Berner TOO?! Those are my fave dogs! Not quite as portable as Burly the Pug, but I will have one some day! (in the super distant, like 3 decades distant future).

    Your move day is our anniversary, how romantic:)

    Never settle Annie. No ‘american dream’ is worth it. Just ask for pots/pans/good linens for xmas and your bday:)

  4. luke on September 10, 2008 at 11:07 AM

    yeah that’s so good. it’s crazy how we so want those things that we know won’t satisfy–but even as we say the good christian thing “they won’t satisfy” a part of us knows that they will. and they will for awhile. and if they keep coming out with good new tv shows and ipod touches and sleek cars then it can propel us forward for quite a long time.
    but you said it, it’s about the road. that is the most important thing. and sometimes i realize that i should probably pack a little lighter.
    and it’s always good to know that “jesus is a friend of mine”!

  5. Emily on September 10, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    Congratulations on making it a year dear friend!

    “Moving is lonely”

    I’m discovering that change in general is lonely. Happy and lonely are not mutually exclusive. Am I happy married? You bet! Am I happy as a mom? Absolutely! Am I lonely sometimes? Yes.

    With each new season, I have to rediscover the words to express what I experience, to invite companionship and understanding. Until I come to terms with where I am, it is hard to accept friendship that is extended. It is impossible to feel “known.”

    But you are wise and courageous and clever. You will find the words and you will hold your beautiful head high as you exit this season of loneliness. The day will come soon.

  6. giving up slowly on September 10, 2008 at 6:15 PM

    Wow. Maybe it’s just me, Annie, but I was very moved by that. Even though I’ve never met you I can feel that you’ve grown a lot in the past year and your experiences have really shaped your character. Is it silly to say I’m proud of you? Maybe… But I am and I really look up to you!
    My friend shared this with me (pardon the fact that it’s a t.v. reference): “…most of the time the greatest rewards come from doing the things that scare you the most. Maybe you’ll get everything you wished for. Maybe you’ll get more than you ever could have imagined; who knows where life will take you. The road is long and in the end, the journey is the destination.” – Coach Whitey from One Tree Hill

  7. bec on September 10, 2008 at 8:39 PM

    i say this at the risk of being hunted down and shot by your fellow nashvillians (nashvillains?)…but if you want to move to seattle, i would probably go with you.

  8. Lyla on September 10, 2008 at 9:51 PM

    I love Bernese Mountain dogs, too. HOWEVER, they lead to heartbreak. They have an extremely high cancer rate.

    To the rest of your American Dream, though, I hope that you do eventaully find all of the pieces when you’re meant to find them.

    You are a really smart and strong person, so I have no doubt that you will get what you seek.

  9. jjkissinger on September 10, 2008 at 10:14 PM

    ANNIE! I wanted to let you know that, when we opened your card in our mailbox a few days ago, we were both SO ENCOURAGED that you thought of us. I’m realizing now that I feel a MUCH deeper connection with all of my friends who have moved to new places…I feel very understood in my current place of lonlieness. I mean, don’t these people know who I am!? COME ON.

    Anyway…thanks for being a great friend. And get your ass up here…STAT.

  10. Terry McNichols on September 11, 2008 at 8:46 AM

    But the best part about living in a place that is so popular is that visitors will continue to come and see you and “help” with the loneliness factor. Imagine if you lived in a very small town in the middle of nowhere. Lonely is lonely, but at least you can be lonely in an exciting place! Thanks for setting us up with a great night at the Bluebird, the tour of Music Row and the special pop in to a recording studio. May the Bluebird of happiness bring you many new friends….
    Did you know that in magical symbology, bluebirds are used to represent confidence? You rock!

  11. Rebecca on September 11, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    I’m kinda speechless right now. In a good way, of course. I think it’s more of a deep desire to just sit with you and say things out loud…and either let them hang there or talk about them. Whatever we feel like doing. You know? You are a true kindred spirit friend.

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