And so the next act of my life in Philadelphia begins.

There was, first, a trip to the Netherlands and Eli's ordination, which was a joy. It is an unusual thing, to be witness to the ceremony through which someone gives their life to God. And, as with a wedding, I think there is a tacit sense of the community giving them as well, though most of us have less skin in the game and therefore can give gladly. I don't quite know how to phrase that well, so I'll leave it there before I bludgeon it to death.

Then, rested, refreshed, and at peace (okay, after a looooong day of travel, maybe rested is a stretch), I began the new job. I tend to report things conservatively and cautiously, I think, because I wanted to begin this sentence instead by leading with one or two things that have been hard for me in making the adjustment. But I apparently gave Rick the impression it was off to a hard start by doing that, so let me lead with enthusiasm for once: I cannot overstate how thrilling it is to be treated like an intelligent, thinking human with diverse strengths and abilities. Do I have to do some tedious things? Yes. Punching holes in paper and binding books of briefs is not exciting. However, there is no expectation thus far that that is the sum of my value to the firm: to be a brainless hole puncher. I have no idea how I'm measuring up to the tasks that have been set to me thus far (see aforementioned one or two hard things), but I have seriously enjoyed some of them and don't even mind when I'm puzzling about work things outside of work hours.

And, not gonna lie, paying bills out of my first paycheck was practically a delight. I've never been so excited to write up my budget for the next few months. It's not like I'm raking in the dough. But I have the satisfaction of knowing that I'm being paid enough to do a job that involves some challenges and where the days are not predictable. Occasionally my coworkers complain and I just sit at my desk and smile, because hell is located at 123 South Broad Street and I got out.

Which leaves the other part of this next phase of life business: moving house. Today, Ryan and I went to pick up the keys for the new place. Molly is at a wedding all weekend, so a doom is upon us to clean the house up to her standards (and let's be honest, mine too -- I have a Mennonite farmer's wife for a grandmother, and I don't like living in other people's filth).

I am currently exhausted just from cleaning the windows and walls on the first floor, and cleaning the kitchen cabinets. I've also spent half the evening measuring everything and plotting possible combinations of furniture: it's amazing how hard it is to find room for bookshelves when there are windows everywhere. I may have to re-evaluate the respective weights of my desires for sunlight and reading material...

But, conclusion, I am prepared to be deliriously happy living in this house. We are not exactly an intentional community, so much as a happy accident of willingness to abide together, but I have chosen these people and for better or worse they've got me. Also, I am super close to Wissahickon Park, within walking distance of good pizza and a nice Episcopalian church, within an easy drive of a Canter Hill-attended farmers' market and St. Paul's for evensong or choral vespers, and my street is lined with gigantic trees. I feel like I'm living in Fangorn. I fully expect one of the ones by the house to lean up close to my bedroom window, peer in with huge gold-green eyes, and politely wish the best water to my roots, or however it is that Ents greet people they don't think are orcs.

In short, it is a good beginning all around, and while I have my nerves and my doubts, they are thus far outstripped by my satisfaction in this place that has been set for me.

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