Okay, I have a really interesting update that feels like a huge deal to Darin and I more than other people, probably. I feel like the discussions we've been having and the issues we've been trying to address have really taken over a lot of our conversations since I've been visiting this past week, and yet I wouldn't be surprised if spectators answered back, "What's the big deal?"
The big question has been this: to live in the actual city of Detroit, or not.
It seemed kind of like a given at first. Darin has lived in the city for some years and enjoys the atmosphere, and is very involved in an awesome church on the east side that is very missionally focused towards their community. It requires a strong heart of compassion for a city that not many people feel compassionate about. Detroit does get a worse rap than it deserves, with many people fearing driving downtown to eat somewhere, even. (I've heard similar things about downtown Orlando and the area of Tampa where I live right now. Wimps! Hahaha.)
I have been viewing my transition to moving up here as a lose-all for winning one guy. Not that I was bitter about this, but that the fact of the matter was that I was giving up my familiarity, my weather, my family, my friends, my Publix and Chick-Fil-A (gentle sobbing), and some other things that would be a challenge to say good-bye to. Of course, not permanently, as I am sure I will be visiting my favorite subtropical peninsula sometimes and that some Floridians I love would perhaps pay me a visit in the Mitten, too. Yet I was faced with a huge sacrifice to make the wisest decision -- marrying my best man friend who has a stable job and a super family -- and tried my best to accept it and be at peace.
There was an itching feeling of uncertainty, though, about the caveat of living in Detroit. Now, let me make this quite clear: I have heard gunshots in my lifetime. Some kind of rivalry blew up in the parking lot of where I now live about a year ago and someone ended up with a big bullethole in his butt. (This kind of cracks me up, still, hahaha.) I grew up around and interact with all kinds of different people, not just typical suburban white people. I don't think I'm that sheltered! I guess I just felt like every last bit of comfort I could possibly have was going to be stripped away if I was living in Detroit. I didn't know where to get groceries or gas by myself without being afraid, or parking on the street and hauling patooty back to my house or apartment like I already do now in Tampa.
Darin knew about my discomfort. I wasn't very good at expressing it, either at all or in the right way, but he knew that I was a little less than thrilled at the prospect of setting up camp somewhere that was really unfamiliar to me. He correctly assessed, too, that being a girl, it's just different for me to imagine settling down in the so-called "ghetto" than a guy. He had a bit of a hard time trying to understand how I wouldn't feel safe somewhere if he was going to be there doing his best to protect me.
We had a bit of difficulty trying to figure out the right reasons to live where we would end up living. There are logical and personal reasons from both our points of view that made it hard to be sure. The biggest hurdle was Darin's involvement with his church, because he loves the solid biblical teaching and the community setup, with lots of opportunities to serve and be involved. While I really do like his church and always enjoyed visiting, I just did not have that same personal connection that made me completely devoted to the cause of Detroit and living there to be a good neighbor.
This whole week, we have been at dinner several times talking through our pieces, trying to understand each other while gently pointing out flaws in each other's thought processes. We really had a textbook-worthy series of peaceful, thoughtful, respectful, and loving chats about what to do and why. We both had stubborn little things that we stuck to and couldn't really see past, in some respects. But on Sunday, after Darin discussed these things through with his fellow childcare volunteers, he told me, "Lara, I am deciding that we will wait to live in Detroit."
I was a little relieved, but also nervous that Darin was just giving up things that he cared about and doing something that would make me happy but leave him a little resentful and discontent. I said so. He was still working through convincing his emotional self that he thought it was the right thing to do, but had made the logical decision to stay closer to where he works. He didn't ultimately think we needed to dive into Detroit right away, and that we would in a way be milking all the benefits from his church without fully participating and sacrificing for it, as many other families do by planning to settle down in the city for years, not months.
We are in agreement, and trying our best to comfort each other through our fears and frustrations. Darin keeps saying, "I have never had to make such a hard decision in my life! I'm used to making decisions for just myself." I can totally agree with that, and know that there will be other things we will have to work through to be at peace. And I do want to respect him as a leader, not trying to have two presidents running our family -- I willingly say that Darin is the man of the house and that I trust him to be wise. I know he cares very much about my feelings and opinions, and takes them into account. I want to be able to live this out for our kids one day so that they can rest assured that there are no power battles in our house; Mom and Dad respect one another and make decisions that stick.
In short, I'm thankful for this opportunity to work through something really hard with Darin, and see what it's really like having to live with someone else in marriage, eventually. We both feel stronger for it. So the name of this blog can still be "Living with the D," because we sure will be hanging around in Detroit. I really do love and enjoy it. It's just not where we'll be resting our heads at night for now. And of course, the person "D" is not going anywhere, either. ;)
I hope this encourages people in some way! Especially people who aren't sure that twenty-somethings can make a relationship really work, because they can and they will. Even when it's a little sticky.