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Learning to Bloom Where I Am Planted

How I turned from the question of what I wanted from life to what life wants from me

Illustration of bathers in lake

Bathers by Olivia Wise

Thirteen years into our marriage, my husband, Chuck, chose the itinerant, public life of a Methodist pastor. As an introverted, spiritual-but-not-religious person, I struggled with his decision but was grateful that he was able to serve in Iowa City, where we were raising our two sons. But after 12 years in Iowa City, just as our nest emptied, the bishop appointed Chuck to a Methodist church in Ames, and I realized I was going to struggle with the “itinerant” part of my husband’s vocation.And then, five years later, DeWitt, a town of 5,000.The fact is, we do grow more vigorously in some places than in others. We can fall for a place just like we fall for a mate. It had been love at first sight with Iowa City, and even Ames had become a best friend. But as a writer who thrives in university towns, how would I survive little DeWitt?One day soon after our move, I picked up some smooth landscaping stones clustered around the foundation and made three small piles on the side of the step to the kitchen door. One cairn was for Iowa City—still Home-with-a-capital-H. Another represented Ames and its unexpected b …

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