The little blue car that barely ran.

My best friend in college drove a little blue car that barely ran. To this day, I’m still convinced there was a hole in the floorboard that we kept covered with a mat. But she had a car, and I didn’t, and she was my best friend. So her car was family. It was small and rusty and faithful. It took us everywhere, most often to hardcore shows. One weekend, we wanted to get to a show a few hours away but the little blue car needed an oil change. We did what all broke college students do and did it ourselves, with the little blue car up on the curb of our apartment building.

The little blue car that barely ran took us to visit boys we hoped might save us from ourselves, and it helped us escape when we learned we were terribly wrong. That car taught me how to take quick and efficient naps when others are driving around town, a skill for which I’m grateful now. The little blue car that barely ran taught me how to harmonize. I will never forget what it feels like to sing at the top of my lungs, windows down, heat blasting on a cold winter night. That’s when you know you’re living, when you look over at your best friend and she’s singing right along with you and the world could end right then and you’d never even notice. The little blue car that barely ran taught me about community, friendship, and generosity, and about all of the yummy late-night eateries in town.

My last memory of riding in the little blue car that barely ran is perhaps my fondest. I’d recently signed up for a six month missions trip and was planning to take a semester off of school. I had moved out of our apartment and back into my parent’s house to get ready. My best friend was leaving me behind in school, and I was leaving her behind to travel the world. I’d met a man I knew I wanted to marry, too. My best friend and I, we knew things were changing and they’d never be the same again. So one last trip we took, in the little blue car that barely ran. It was June, and it was hot. The windows were down and it was loud on the highway, so we didn’t speak. It was too loud and windy for music, even. Both of us leaned forward slightly, trying to keep the sweat from seeping through our clothes. Nearly two hours passed, and not a word was spoken. As I turned my head to pull window-whipped hair out of my mouth, I caught her eye. We cried together, in that little blue car that barely ran. She was the sister I never had, and our lives were about to change forever.

Five things on a friday.

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Recipes to help you stay out of the kitchen:

1. Chicken lettuce wraps. I’m using this (inappropriate but accurately titled) recipe. I prepare it in the morning, and it only requires fifteen minutes or so over the stovetop! I don’t usually buy the butter or iceberg lettuce either, because it doesn’t keep as long. Try using Romaine, and if it’s too messy… present the whole thing as a salad.

2. Homemade pizza with Trader Joe’s dough & sauce.  I’ve heard from-scratch crust is cheaper and just as easy, but this is where I am these days. I serve it alongside carrot sticks and whatever other raw veggies we have lying around. Don’t forget the ranch!

3. Fancy salads. I always add kale to the lettuce, and then whatever toppings fit the theme – black & bleu, Southwestern, etc. My favorite combination is one I threw together from leftovers – chopped egg, shredded chicken, raw broccoli, and an Asian peanut vinaigrette.

4. Baked ziti from this site. It only needs half an hour in the oven, so prep it whenever (even days before) and then store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Per usual, salad is my go-to side.

5. Grilled chicken & pineapple kabobs with corn on the cob. I slather butter and parmesan cheese and garlic onto the corn, lay it on foil, and grill it alongside the chicken. 15 minutes or so and everything is done. Serve with… you guessed it! A salad.

I listened, and so I’m leaving.

It’s been years since I dusted off my resume, or interviewed for a new job. I love where I am and I love what I do, and there was just no reason to change it. But then suddenly, there was.

Suddenly, there were too many schedule conflicts with family events and work. There were weeks I didn’t see my kids for three days straight. There were nights I’d kiss a head in the dark and hear, “Are you gonna be here when I wake up Momma? I just like to know.”

Suddenly, this idea of online life as a hobby flew out of the window. Being online is literally a job for me now, one that is life-giving and hopefully very permanent. There were weeks I stayed up too far past my bedtime, trying to beat deadlines and answer emails before my alarm went off for work. There were nights leading up to the conference where I looked at my husband and shook my head from behind my computer screen, as he got up to make me another pot of coffee.

Suddenly, there were aches and pains. There were weeks I worked three in a row and wondered how on earth I’d done it until now. There were nights I’d limp in from work and collapse on the couch, unable to muster enough energy for so much as a conversation. My days off became a blurry blend of recovery and productivity, and I couldn’t seem to nail down a rhythm anymore like I’d done so easily in years past.

But I fought it all off, for what seemed like months. I love where I am. I love what I do. I love my patients. I love my surgeons. I love my team. I love my facility. I love my company. I am good at this. This is what I do. This is where I work. This is who I am. There was just no reason to change it. But there was.

As the school year swung in, I couldn’t ignore that voice any longer – the one that said, It’s not about you and what you love. It was time to explore other options, options that would give me a slower pace, a more structured routine, and more time at home with my family and other responsibilities.

So I dusted off the resume, and I interviewed for a new job. And I got it. I’ll be managing a patient caseload for a hospice agency here in town, doing weekly home visits and coordinating services for families in my county. I know that working with dying people is something that’s made me come alive in the past (a little ironic, I guess), so I’m trusting it will be a good fit for this next season.

Crying as I write this, I’m headed into my last week of work at the hospital. It feels weird to even type it out clearly. I’m leaving my job. I’d be lying if I said I felt great about it. I’m worried about what people will think. I’m worried about not mattering anymore, about starting over in a new environment where I’m new and unsure. I’m worried about losing touch with what has become a second family to me.

But I literally don’t have room for the worry. Not a spare inch. So I’m going to fill that space with lovely things instead, things that are pure. I am excited about being obedient. I feel great about listening to the still, small voice. I look forward to learning something new, and of course… being home for dinner every night. This new chapter feels brave, so I’m going with that.