I realized I’d never find the salad tongs. Surrounded by boxes, I flung the thin white paper we’d used to pack our dishes across the kitchen, digging into every tight corner of cardboard to find the missing utensils. This was to be the first night serving dinner on real plates since we’d moved after two weeks of only paper and plastic. I’d bought new taper candles and arranged a fresh bouquet. The scent of skewers was wafting, fresh rolls were steaming and the salad was chopped and set, jewels of tomatoes and peppers glowing on the table top. But those tongs, the silliest of all kitchen instruments really, eluded me, and I was brought to tears that we’d have to use two big forks in their place.

It wasn’t of course, about the tongs at all. Or about the way I’d intended to serve up a salad. It was really all about being in a new town and a new home that both made me a stranger. It was about wanting to make our meal ‘just right’ so that I could fake a feeling of fitting there by posturing perfection. It was about wearing loneliness and adjusting to a new geography, about being forever the new girl and imagining that I could conquer the ache by the way I performed for my own family.

When you set the table, do you ever make it tidy and pretty, with everything in its place because of a hurt that runs longer than your tablecloth? Do you find yourself imagining others there, laughing, sharing and marking time together, but only picture the reality if its all arranged just so, with ramekins and chargers and…tongs?

Perhaps on this night, it was my dream of community and the thought of the one left behind that brought my tears. If my table was set fine, surely then, I was one step closer to hosting a feast and finding friends. Instead I tasted something bitter. A part of my heart’s expectations were exposed and I ate that meal right along with melancholy.

new in town

Not long after we settled a storm blew through leaving phone lines dangling in the front yard. After approximately 52 phones calls to various agencies, I’d given up and assumed they’d drag there as part of the scenery forever. They swung near the driveway and I chirped at the children whenever they edged too near. Can someone be electrocuted from a telephone line? I’d google again to be certain….What an eyesore too. Another piece of our home not quite in a row.

But it was those swinging lines that made Mary knock at my door. She didn’t know if we’d seen them hanging low as she walked by. It was cold when she stopped and I’d just warmed our kettle for tea. I sheepishly asked her in and the invitation felt brave. We talked about schools and churches and books we both loved. It was my new girl beginning- a fresh step toward a new friend, toward community and home.

The next week when the snow fell fierce and ice shut down the city, Mary texted an invitation to potluck with the neighbors on our street. Her home was so warm; soup and cocoa were simmering, music played and drinks were poured. There was joy in this kitchen so full of new faces, a gentle simplicity in how we all came trudging in with heavy coats over sweaters and our giant duck boots. I’d brought a salad topped with the colorful jewels of tomatoes and peppers. I was anxious to eat it with friends. “Oh how pretty!” Mary remarked. “But you know what….I just lost my tongs!”

Kristen Kill
Kristen Kill / Posts / Blog
Kristen Kill is a woman transformed by the delight of God. She loves coffee, gingerbread, and staying up late with her nose in a good mystery. She believes there is something sacred in lighting candles, in setting a beautiful table and inviting others in. Most days she can be found attempting to learn how to cook, redecorating any given room instead of cleaning her house, and homeschooling her five hilarious children. A contributing Editor at The Better Mom, and co-host of At Home, a popular podcast with Sally Clarkson, Kristen is passionate about encouraging women who feel stretched thin. She believes that tension is where we can learn to live expectant for the music and melody God is singing over of each one of us. She writes about home, creativity, and flourishing at her blog Hope With Feathers (kristenkill.com) After spending the last seven years in the hustle of New York City, she and her husband, Josh, are learning to go slow as they raise their family and walk their anxious hound dog in the Pacific Northwest. Her first book, Finding Selah is due from Zondervan in 2018.
  • Katie

    I can really relate to what you have shared.
    Could it be that we are most over-wrought by external things when we are under confident? I well know that sense of unease, angst, fear…when I am feeling lost or lonely.
    Whenever we have moved, I have found myself feeling unsteady/unmoored. Then. . .God reminds me that He is my anchor. When I pay attention and trust Him to help me adjust I feel more settled and whole. We truly are emotional beings as much as thinking ones. Thankfully He holds us in His arms if we will let Him, then takes us by the hand and leads us forward.
    Thank God, for low-hanging wires and observant friendly neighbors:) You welcoming Mary into your home at that moment she came to your door seems to have led to more open doors and hearts. And so it begins – two cups of tea, then a potluck. . .

    March 17th, 2017 9:57
  • Leah Adams

    I was right there with you searching for those tongs. Your story is a beautiful blend of hospitality and longing to fit in. So glad Mary found you and you found Mary!

    March 17th, 2017 12:42

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