This post is by Abby Hollingsworth, our May Pilgrim in Residence. Each week this month, Abby is sharing about a recent journey she never wanted to take and how she turned it into a journey of intention. -Lacy
I don’t remember what prompted my sudden act of boldness. I just remember sitting on the edge of the bed in a towel, still dripping from the shower, rocking back and forth in tears. I’d been in Palo Alto about six months, and I’d just booked a one-way ticket to Nashville. I wasn’t coming back without an answer, one way or the other. I was crying because I knew what the answer might be.
This would be the first leg of my walkabout that felt completely on my terms. I looked at the stars. I saw the signs. I’d reached my capacity for uncertainty, and I needed an answer. We both did.
I left for a month in Nashville—a city I knew and loved, where I felt I’d be safe if I came completely undone. My sister Emily welcomed me with open arms—as did her roommates and her guest room and her closet. It was June, and we distracted ourselves with summer adventures and long nights cooking and eating in the house on Oriole Place. We dubbed it Sister Month, pretended we were on vacation, and only when I was ready to offer them willingly did she ever ask for answers. Like all who welcome weary travelers, her patience and hospitality were a gift I didn’t know I desperately needed.
This point in my walkabout felt like summiting the highest peak, looking back to see the trail of my wanderings stretch behind me from far above. I saw my path zigzag back and forth across states and states of mind. And for the first time, I saw another route appear ahead of me. One hot summer night, watching fireflies in Emily’s front yard, I began to truly believe I could be okay in this parallel path. More than okay, even. Healthy. Loved. Whole.
Sister Month passed and the parallel path became the only option forward. My time away prepared me to accept this as the right choice, and I flew back to California to pack up my life for one more cross-country journey in a loaded Civic with everything I owned.
If you’re counting along with me . . . that’s three moves in less than one calendar year. My right foot ached from the constant acceleration. The adrenaline of a decisive action—the physical act of leaving California and a marriage behind—carried me most of the way. I made it nearly to Amarillo before I began to crash, finally sputtering into Nashville on emotional fumes. But I made it. My new life would start here where I first believed it was possible, with the girls on Oriole Place.
This move was home to a familiar but changing city. Both Nashville and I grew up a good bit in the four years since college. The city felt more alive, less embarrassed about it, and ready to push me to be the same. Nashville turned out to be exactly where I needed to land, and I couldn’t have been more surprised.
Without a map, without a plan, without the control I so craved, I found my way to this new and nurturing home.
In the first months of settling, I felt my walkabout begin to move inward—muscles used in the repetition of physical relocation now ready to do the hard and healthy emotional work at hand. As I started to unpack the implications of my journey in a more stable environment, I knew I couldn’t let go of the spirit of walkabout I’d found.
Could I continue to meet uncertainty with openness?
To trade anxiety for a willingness to be surprised by what is completely out of my control?
I wanted Nashville to be a place of mystery this time around. To lean into the unknown as it became a less threatening force in my life. For mystery had been a trustworthy guide on the journey so far, and I had a sneaking feeling we weren’t saying goodbye just yet.
What brings you life and clarity in the midst of uncertainty?