We Were Here; We Are Here

Hello beautiful WordPress editor. Hello beautiful laptop and Photoshop and Chrome and all the other ingredients needed to craft a blog. I know it’s only been a month, but I’ve missed you like crazy. I’ve missed coming up with Inklings designed as trail heads to guide my lovely audience down their path to a complete piece. I’ve missed compiling my thoughts into introspective essays about my own life journey. And most importantly, I’ve missed you — my blogging family — and the always-encouraging remarks we all share with each other.

I’m a fan of short reintroductions, so instead of dwelling on the tamper-proof past, I’d prefer to jump right in, flip all the switches back to their online mode, and get to work!

What is it like to truly know a place completely and move away, only to come back later by choice? When we moved from Montgomery, Alabama to St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., I knew almost everything about the “Gump,” as it were. That’s the coolest nickname for Montgomery of a city fraught with uncool nicknames, so that will be its frequent designation on Normal Happenings. The history, the culture, the roads, and the geography of the place were second-nature to me, even if I spent most moments pushing against them with stubborn resilience. I never caught an American Southern accent — honestly my syntax fits far closer to that of an STL-native.

Still, the rolling topography of Central Alabama was my home, and among the historical infamy of the place, I also had history with the people. Family and friends had built their lives, core values, and houses upon the green hills, and, it seems, so did I despite myself. Before I knew it, I had become respected nonconformist who questioned established norms. I’ve been reminded frequently of late how “liked” I was — something I couldn’t really validate in the moment.

I carried those feelings with me to STL; but honestly being away from it all was a breath of fresh air to me. Sure, it took a while to find my footing in STL, but once I did I enjoyed being away from everyone I knew. We began making friends, and found ourselves being appreciated much quicker than before.

So, when this opportunity in Alabama came up, we were notably torn. On the one hand, this was a solid career-move for me, with better benefits and markedly lower cost of living. On the other, it would require us to leave the place we loved — STL offered us a place to heal from past wounds, and we did so with us much grace as we could muster.

Oh, and, it was the birthplace of Normal Happenings… so there’s that.

There is one thing about Alabama, however, that makes things not-so-bad anymore — and it’s not about the state. At the end of the day, home is not a place. Humans have moved beyond the need for the protection of a village, and the world is a lot smaller than it was even a century ago. Home is your values, your experiences, and the people you bring with you. Home, for me, is making an impact in people’s experiences and spreading positivity to those you meet as travelers through this life.

And so, though I would honestly rather be in St. Louis, I can say with sincerity that it’s good to be home.

That’s a wrap! | Completed 7/29/19 11:07 P.M.

Did you know we’re part of the best community of bloggers in the world? Now that the Normal Happenings Starry-Eyed Discord is up, we’re having incredible conversations every day! You can join us right now by becoming a Patron of Normal Happenings! Also, $5+ Patrons unlock Snail Mail Inklings and get featured in very special blog posts!


Goodbye St. Louis, You Gave Us the World

Over the last week or so, we’ve mentioned that we’d be undergoing significant life changes. It’s time to share those with our blogging family.

The Daily Inkling for January 16, 2019 was:
You return to your hometown or community after five years of being away. Give us a rundown as you rediscover things place-by-place with new eyes.

Let’s turn that into a fact.
We’re returning to our hometown after two years of being away. We’re preparing to rediscover things place-by-place with new eyes.

Such is life.

On July 1st, we’ll be moving back to Montgomery, Alabama U.S. I got a terrific position as a public relations professional – a career-advancing opportunity far too good for me to pass up. I don’t recall ever feeling such mixed emotions.

Let’s talk career. I believe in blessings – and that sometimes those blessings pay off as a consequence of hard, God-focused work. As such, I could not be more grateful or humbled that a 27-year-old could be entrusted with such a role.

Honestly and objectively, there’s a lot to like about a strangely thriving Sun Belt city, free from the stress of ice storms and a relatively short drive to the beach. The cost of living is low. The food is good-ish* – it is Alabama, after all. Let’s be real, Montgomery is doing some great things despite having a mixed reputation at times. Everywhere has darkness alongside the light.

*Sidebar: Alabama is known for its legendary food, but I’m not a fan of Southern food. Southwestern and Mediterranean food all the way for me. Though I admit I can make one heck of a poppyseed chicken casserole.

Yet, we’re sad. We have learned to love our home here in St. Louis. We’ve met some amazing people, and worked with three incredible bloggers! We’ve also done lots of healing here, because despite all of the positives referenced, we were both in a pretty dark place when we moved away. Such distance from our families and those we grew up with provided us with the one thing we needed most – perspective.

Our world bigger, we set upon casting off the opinions of others and finding our true nature. We like the people we’ve found, and are nervous we might lose them as we journey into the great unknown. I’m scared. I know we’ll be okay, but I’m scared. In many ways I wish we were moving somewhere completely new, but maybe the nearness is the next step in our healing process. I am, and always will be, optimistic in the face of a cynical world.

Now let’s talk about Normal Happenings. As we enter this time of transition, I actually feel I’m going to come out the other side with more time and energy to devote to my craft. As such, this might be a good time to go ahead and pursue another objective – that of transitioning to a self-hosted platform. More moving.

Such is life.

There are a lot of things we want to do design-wise regarding The Characters That Define Us! Normal Happenings is a blog of subtly, so don’t expect huge changes – just a few tweaks to change up the norm a bit. Bear with us as we build up our resources for a fantastic 2020.

We’ve ordering some special styluses laser engraved with The Characters That Define Us logo! Why? To reward our Patrons, of course! Any $5 and up Patrons by the end of June will receive one with their July Snail Mail Inklings! More on that in this post!

Did you know we’re part of the best community of bloggers in the world? Now that the Normal Happenings Starry-Eyed Discord is up, we’re having incredible conversations every day! You can join us right now by becoming a Patron of Normal Happenings! Also, $5+ Patrons unlock Snail Mail Inklings and get featured in very special blog posts!


Everyone Has Embarrassing Wedding Stories, Right?

Happy anniversary to us! Two years ago on a beautiful April Fool’s Day in a small town in Alabama, I married Nikki, the woman of my dreams. Thus, we signed our names to each other’s history and future — a decision of love I could never regret.

I’ve never heard a soul who is now married say that their wedding went off without hysteria. I suppose I am no exception. Seven-hundred and thirty days removed from the event, I think I am now ready to tell this story.

There are three generally accepted cosmological theories about how the universe will end. The Big Chill is the most commonly accepted, where over the course of deep time all of the energy in the universe will dissipate, leaving creation a void, lifeless, expanding darkness. The Big Crunch expects all matter will eventually coalesce into a point similar to the ingredients needed for a Big Bang. And then, there’s the Big Rip — not a theory. It happened on my wedding day. Continue reading “Everyone Has Embarrassing Wedding Stories, Right?”