From the day we started looking for apartments in D.C., I knew this summer would be like no other. But I had no idea how it would all play out. I figured we'd find a little studio apartment in Northern Virginia we could rent for 3 months and live very simply. I figured I'd drive out here with Robert on an exciting road trip seeing lands I'd never before seen. I figured I'd get a great 12 week internship with a theater like Woolley Mammoth or Studio or the Kennedy Center doing marketing or PR or education. I figured Robert would make tons of money, and we'd get to spend a weekend in New York and go to the beach and go back to Illinois with more in our bank account than when we came.
I figured wrong.
A week before Robert left, alone, to drive out here to start work, I was a wreck. We were in the midst of a very chaotic packing process, we had no where to live, and I had heard nothing but rejection from the theaters to which I'd applied.
In order to keep my full time position at Barnes and Noble, I could only be on leave for 10 weeks. That meant I would keep my benefits and paid time off, but it also meant I had to stay for 2 extra weeks and come back 2 weeks early. Without Robert. Now, I'm a fairly independent gal, but 2 weeks alone in an empty apartment with nothing but a retail/food service job to go to everyday? Blech.
And why was our apartment empty? Well, we didn't want to pay rent on 2 places all summer, so we moved everything out (except for necessities) the day before Robert left and put it all into storage. I stayed until our lease ended and signed a new lease for fall. When I get back, I'll be in a new empty apartment until Robert gets back. Who in their right mind would want to unload an entire storage unit full of stuff alone? Not this girl. So, packing up meant dividing things into the following categories: 1) Send to DC, 2) Put into storage, 3) Bring to Texas, including Camp RYLA, and 4) Keep in apartment until I leave town, then put in storage. FUN, RIGHT?!
Somehow, by the grace of God (and the kindness of my friends Jen and Dan and the generosity of the Fosters), I made it out and back to my great home state. That time in Texas was the most amazing two weeks of visiting many friends, reuniting with my wonderful husband, and experiencing another fantastic week of camp.
When it was time to leave for D.C., however, the earlier trepidation of the near future returned in full force. It also didn't help that we arrived late at night, after a long day of travelling, to a part of the city that has some shady neighborhoods, through which we had to haul most of our belongings for about a mile to an apartment we were sharing with another couple. I still had no employment in sight, and Robert found out he, as a government employee, was going to have to be furloughed during the second half of the summer which meant a 20% pay cut. I was not excited.
I felt like I had no reason to be here. I felt so insignificant because I was only here because Robert had a great opportunity, and I was just tagging along for the ride, mooching off of his success. I didn't have anything to contribute, no income, no purpose. I couldn't even play housewife and run the home because we were leasing a room in a condo from another couple. Talk about bummed out. There wasn't much I could do, though, and sulking wasn't going to make anything better.
I resolved to not let my summer in the nation's capital go to waste. I started writing more, I kept running, we did some sight seeing. If you follow my blog at all, you'll see that I found things to occupy my time. I also decided that I had to do something with theatre. D.C. may not be New York or Chicago, but it's a great metropolitan area with a strong arts community.
This is where things get cool.
But first let me back up. How did we get from having nowhere to live to renting a room in a condo? Well, I searched high and low, but 3 month leases come with a hefty price tag. Craig's List was proving to be fruitless, but we managed to find a place that looked like it would work. Of course, it fell through at the last minute. Out of desperation, Robert asked his boss to place an ad on their employee network, and as luck would have it, we got a hit. I was incredibly wary about sharing a place with people I'd never met, but we had no other options so we took it.
Back to things being cool. It has turned out to be an amazing blessing that we live where we do. Although we are sharing the space, it is a huge space to share. Our roommates have been welcoming and generous and accommodating. We have joined their Bible studies on both Tuesday and Thursday nights and consequently, met other young people in D.C. We went camping together (which I discussed in my previous post), we cook for each other often, and we have gotten some pretty cheap gas because Aaron is always banking on the Giant grocery store gas points! We live within walking distance to Union Station, H Street Corridor, the Capitol and more. Robert's daily battle with traffic is half of what it could be because we live in the city and he's heading out. God certainly had His hand in where we lived this summer.
The first weekend here, we drove down to Alexandria and we passed a sign on the way for Synetic Theater. That was one I hadn't heard of. I quickly googled it on my phone, and found out it was a professional theatre company known for its physical and movement based performances. They were looking for volunteers. I sent out a round of emails to several theatre companies about volunteering, but only Synetic replied. I went in on July 1st. After going to the wrong location, walking around in circles for an hour, feeling like an idiot and so tempted to give up, I found the office and was immediately handed expense reports to sort through. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it's a start.
Three hours of work later, I headed home happy to have gotten the chance to work in a theater again and proud of myself for sticking it out. The next day, I received an email from my supervisor asking me if I would like to intern with them for the next month, and would receive a small compensation for my time. A paid internship with a professional theatre company receiving general management experience? Pinch me.
So, for the past month, I have had an amazing opportunity to learn about how a professional theatre runs. I received comps to the show, a silent version of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It's so beautiful. They tell the entire story through movement: dance, mime, acrobatics, slapstick, and it's amazing. I've also gotten real world theatre experience to put on my resume as well as a recommendation letter coming from my supervisor. The paycheck was miniscule, but hey, every bit counts! And I had something worthwhile to do during the day. I got to learn, to stretch myself, to pursue my passion, and make great networking connections, to boot.
What started out as a bleak summer turned into a bounty of God's blessings. One day, as I was walking from the train to the office, I thought about His faithfulness to me throughout this entire experience, and a verse of scripture popped into my head. Luke 12:6-7, "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Sometimes, I feel like just a sparrow. Insignificant. But God provides even for the insignificant. Along the same lines is Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they?" Sometimes, I feel like the answer is no. But even if I'm not, it doesn't matter, because I am constantly surrounded by God's unwavering faithfulness.
We watched the Oscar winning film "Life of Pi" this summer. Robert and I both loved it. If you haven't seen it, rent it! A moment that really struck me was when Pi was on the life boat (spoiler alert if you haven't seen the TRAILER) and he shouts to God, "What more do you want from me?!" The answer was simple: Everything. He wanted him to give up every last shred of his own self-reliance and trust in His provision. Shortly after, Pi loses the rest of his supplies and has to literally rely on God for his very survival. That is how I felt this summer. Out on a life boat in the middle of the ocean feeling lost and alone (except for a tiger, i.e. Robert, hehe) relying on the mercy of Christ for everything from a home to employment.
Now, I am so grateful that things turned out the way they did. Robert didn't make as much as we hoped, and we did't get to take weekends to travel, but we had budget friendly options and generous roommates who helped us experience the best the city had to offer. What an amazing display of God's love to give us the perfect home when we were at the end of our rope and to provide me with fulfilling work when I thought I was an utter failure. Every obstacle thus far has been an experience to learn, grow and mature. We are better for it.
So when I walk past security at the airport tomorrow after kissing my husband goodbye, I'll wipe away my tears knowing that it is all in God's hands. He has brought us this far. Even when I thought we were on the edge of a cliff with nowhere else to go, He found a way for us. For me. And even though the next three weeks will be excruciatingly difficult, I will find comfort in the fact that His provision is eternal and it is astounding. After all, He always has His eye on me, even if I am just a sparrow.