Four Seasons Later

I wore a sweater to work the other day.

I climbed half-naked out of bed with a shiver and noted the morning temperature a brisk 49 degrees. So, I grabbed a light sweater from my closet — the first time I’ve worn one since March or April. Since I first moved to Asheville.

Winter.

Spring.

Summer.

Autumn.

I’ve now called the Blue Ridge home for all four seasons. I remember sitting in training for my job as snowflakes fell outside the window, and now here I am amid the falling leaves of autumn. It is a strange feeling, having survived those winter nights sans heating to humid summer days with open windows and fans and tanktops.

Strange, yet accomplishing, yet all the more strange.

I don’t tend to stick around. I’m a drifter by nature, someone prone to wander.

That I’ve seen all four seasons of the Blue Ridge is significant. The leaves are falling and changing, and I see their transformation as a visible sign that I, too, have changed. Changed for the better.

I need to tell myself this often: I’ve changed. Changed for the better. Because, all too often, I don’t think I have changed. Or, rather, I convince myself I have changed — but for the worse.

I’ve become more cynical about community and belonging. More helpless. More prone to isolation than outreach.

And while this hasn’t been a picture-perfect year, it’s been a year of bountiful firsts.

I invited an old roommate to be my new roommate again. Together we’ve launched a podcast and a Patreon campaign, and we’ve ventured deeper into creativity, ministry, and brotherhood.

I’ve become a host on Couchsurfing, inviting over a dozen strangers into my home. We’ve traded stories about travel and life, and I’ve lived vicariously through their epic journeys around the continent and globe.

I’ve worked the same full-time job for 7 straight months, a first, and a true testament of God’s grace and provision. Despite some hard days and crazy moments, my job remains a blessing. Both financially and personally. I’m learning so much about addiction, recovery, coping, identity, and life from these little teenage whirlwinds.

I’ve dog-sat for several co-workers and started riding a bicycle through town. I frequent the coffee shops and local grocery stores, and these little things help me feel more connected to this city.

A city I’m trying so very hard to call home.

It’s tempting to leave. It really is. I feel like a wind-up toy, having been revved up seven months ago and now running on my last clicks and legs. I get tired of the same-old, and the more I work on my #RunningTo book, the more I miss the spontaneous man I used to be.

What else is out there? Who else?

But I do see the value in roots. I see the value in planting and prospering.

It’s been four seasons in the Blue Ridge, and they’re the most beautiful seasons I’ve seen anywhere. I don’t know how many more seasons I’ve got here, but after a sucky few weeks I want to finish this year strong. I want to take more initiative in the next 90 days, like a resolute Tom of old.

I want to commit to a church.

I want to join a weekly men’s group.

I want to join a Christ-based recovery group.

I want to finish writing my #RunningTo book.

I don’t want to just cross days off a calendar. I want to add moments to each day and live a full life with no regret.

Maybe I am meant to meander from this place soon. To wander again. Gosh, I (still) miss the road.

But if I ever leave these beautiful Blue Ridge seasons behind, I can’t stand the thought of leaving any cards on the table. I must give this place a fair shot — the place, the people.

The seasons. From the height of springtime to the chill of autumntide and everything in between.

  • Red

    Keep it up Tom, proud of you man. I will be praying on the items you mentioned above.

    • Thanks for those prayers, Red. Greatly appreciated and needed. You’re awesome, brother.

  • Kevin Browne

    I’m so looking forward to trying out that couch of yours this week Tom, and contributing to some fine encouraging conversation 👍 !!!

    • Can’t wait to host you, Kev! Forget the couch; I’ve got an extra bed made just for you.

  • Kirin Pandit

    Catching up on your blog now and this post really speaks to me! I’m job searching right now and in the news industry you have to sign a 2-3 year contract with your job. This has been really scary for me because the idea of being locked down somewhere for a certain time is extremely unappealing. But your post reminds me that it’s not the worst thing at all! It gives you time to really build relationships and fall in love with the community around you, and that just because you’re in the same place doesn’t mean you’re not evolving.