Sometimes we must open our hands fully to let go of what we hold so tightly.
If you read Simmer, then you know how it stung to leave North Carolina. For almost two years, we didn’t go back to visit. The decision was one part necessity; one part self-preservation. Much of my heart still resided comfortably in the 919; I needed to invest fully in where we were– in sincere hope that it would become home as well.
After some time passed, we found ourself back among the oaks for, wait for it– a job interview. By then we were happy to call Augusta home but the job that had taken us there eventually placed us back in limbo.
We rambled to Raleigh in the frigid mid-January wind and pursued caffeine and warmth. One particular coffee shop opened shortly after we moved away and their instagram feed had taunted me for months. We sat with lattes & a liege waffle between us, this new place in our old comfortable town.
We sipped long and looked around for familiar faces. But of course, it had been a couple of years and the only familiar face I saw was the one across from me. We brought home with us when we sat at that tiny table.
The coffee was amazing, the day was gorgeous and the best part? It was all brand new– and it wasn’t ours.
Something happened in that short trip, a warmth in my heart beyond what coffee could produce. When I thought I wanted familiar, I found something better.
The knowledge that I was a visitor was stronger than my slight homesickness that I always carried with me. What I missed for ages, I came back to and realized– it wasn’t mine anymore.
Mine was a blue house in Georgia with two little girls and the man smiling at my deep-in-thought-ness. Mine was the sunny kitchen with the cabinets which we painted ourselves. Mine was the moonlighting barista I brought with me who was already figuring out how to recreate my drink. It was all mine. This town, this place, this seedbed of sweet memories– was no longer mine.
I do believe cities keep a slice of us when we go. I know that they wind deep around our hearts like our roots that go way back then. Perhaps it depends on the life that we lived while there, but I know that it etches just the same.
We hope we leave marks on these towns and coffee shops and churches, but the truth is– they leave their marks on us as well.
I may still grin when I sit behind a car with a North Carolina license plate. I swallow my wistfulness when friends send me photos of the neighborhood we lived in. I loved it then and I love it still. But as much as I adore the place of our beginning, I cherish where we are today.
I’m grateful we let go of one so that we could grab onto the next. With both hands and whole hearts.
For I know that holding on to one thing too tightly prevents us from wholly holding the next. That next thing which God has given us for His glory and our growth. And I want that, I want to hold on firmly, unabashedly planted in today– where I’ve been thoughtfully, lovingly, placed.
My dear husband (who, if you’re wondering, never did take that job but instead waited patiently for the right one in the right place,) makes coffee that would make you call your Mother. (I can’t say that other Southern phrase about slapping mothers, my Mother happens to be a faithful reader and I know better.) He made this lovely Brown Sugar Simple Syrup and creates beautiful lattes with it. Swoon.
This simple syrup is called that for a reason, it’s as easy as pie! Add it to your latte, Iced Coffee, or morning cup right out of the pot. I use about a 1/2 an ounce because I like just a hint of sweet, but you do you.
Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
12 oz filtered water
16 oz. brown sugar
a tiny pinch of kosher salt
Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil. Add the brown sugar. Whisk in and return to a boil for three minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes before pouring into a bottle or jar.
For a brown sugar latte or brown sugar cafe au lait– we add between a half an ounce and an ounce to the mug before the espresso/ coffee. We froth heated milk using a frother similar to this one, and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy!