We have each other

We got married between our junior and senior years of college. No long after our wedding we began applying for graduate schools and generally knew that our first choices would be Boston, Chicago or San Francisco, based on the fact that those three cities had consortia of theological schools working cooperatively that would allow the widest range of faculty and educational contact with other denominations and religious traditions. Before we reached our first wedding anniversary we had made the decision to go to Chicago.

I had visited Chicago with my family once more than a decade previously. We had stopped in Chicago on our way home from a family trip to Washington DC. My family mostly traveled by airplane as it was my parents’ business, but we had made one cross-country road trip by car when I was a teenager. Just driving the 1200+ miles to Chicago was going to be an adventure. We made a commitment and decided that this was our adventure, but we had never before done something quite so big.

A few weeks before our departure, I helped a new employee to my father’s business move his household goods to Montana. I loaded what few household goods we had into the back of his pickup. We loaded the pickup on a company truck and drove to Minnesota. We unloaded the pickup and while the new employee loaded his household goods into the big truck, I drove into Chicago and unloaded our things and put them into a storage locker in the basement of the apartment building where we would be moving. I had never before driven in city traffic, and I arrived in Chicago following paper maps in the days before GPS. I arrived at the apartment building in the early afternoon, unloaded all of our things by myself on a hot and muggy day, and got back on the road to return to Minnesota. It was about 5 pm when I left the University area and before long I had taken a wrong turn and was wandering in an unfamiliar part of the city looking for a gas station. Eventually I found my way out of the city and got a motel for the night before returning to our employee’s home and driving the big truck back to Montana while he returned in the pickup.

Soon we launched in our little car for Chicago. We took three days in the time of 55 mph speed limits. We were able to stay with relatives on our way to Chicago. I remember driving into the city for the first time together. We knew we were in for a big adventure. The huge buildings, the dense traffic, there was a lot that was totally unfamiliar to a couple of kids from Montana. That evening, after checking into our apartment and carrying up our things from the basement in a building with no elevators we were exhausted and fell into bed listening to the sirens in the background and trying to adjust to the entirely new environment. “We have each other and we can do this,” we reassured ourselves.

And we did. We learned how to live and learn in Chicago. We learned how to ride the trains. We learned where it was safe to walk and where it was not. We learned how to drive in traffic. We learned how to do light maintenance of our car in a parking lot. We made friends and we learned how to manage graduate education. We learned how to move our household goods, living in 5 different apartments in 4 years and moving out of an apartment two of the summers to return to Montana to work.

I look back on those days and I am impressed that we found the courage to do what we did. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own. There were days when I was totally overwhelmed by the city and living in a place where you had to unlock a door to get into the building, unlock another to get into the stairwell and unlock a third to get into your apartment. I had just learned to lock my car, and kept locking the keys in my car over and over. I got good at opening the locked door with a piece of wire. It seemed like when one of us would get down and wonder if we were doing the right thing the other would find a new challenge or a new opportunity and cheer the partner up. We seemed to be able to keep our spirits up by encouraging one another.

Since that time we’ve been through a lot. We’ve moved to three different homes in very different circumstances. We’ve lived in three different states. We’ve traveled to Canada, Europe, Central America and Japan. We’ve raised two children. We’ve become grandparents. We’ve faced seasons that were more difficult than others. “We have each other and we can do it” has become a motto that has gotten us through a lot.

And now we find ourselves in a whole new situation. The final months before our retirement are not at all what we expected. Who could have known that we would be figuring out how to guide a church through months of social distancing? Who would have thought that we would be learning how to produce videos for broadcast every day? Who would have though we would be creating mailings for distance learning of faith traditions? We simply were not able to imagine what this would be like just a couple of months ago.

And we are not alone. Across the world this pandemic has left millions and millions of individuals and families of all shapes and sizes wondering what will come next. Jobs have been lost. Family finances are in disarray. Fears of illness overwhelm at times. People are trying to figure out how to survive in circumstances they never expected.

We have each other and we can do this.

Like two Montana kids trying to figure out how to live in Chicago, we are a world of people trying to learn how to live in a whole new set of social rules and circumstances.

It is a good thing we have each other.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!