I Always Turn Left
By Marie Schrampfer
Every day on my way home from work, I find myself sitting at the stoplight at the corner of Newell St. and S. Salina. And every day, I also find myself with a choice to make: left or right? Turning left would mean taking Salina through town all the way home. It would mean stoplights and traffic and more time on the road. Turning right, on the other hand, would mean taking the highway back. It would mean 55 mph speeds and fewer cars and getting home in half the time. So every day, when I sit at that stoplight, I have to decide: left or right?
It sounds like an easy decision. I mean, why turn left and take all that extra time when I could zip home so quickly?
Well, because I’m an introvert. Because sometimes, I want that extra time to myself after being around people all day. It’s not that I don’t want to get home, it’s just that there’s so much about this volunteer experience that’s so new to me – new people, a new culture, a new way of seeing the world – and sometimes I need that time alone to process it all. And so occasionally, I turn left instead of right.
Except that’s not true. I’ve never turned left. I mean, I’ve thought about it. I’ve even come close to doing it, but I never actually have. For even as I flick on my left turn signal, I remember the community waiting for me at home. I remember Ana, Blake, Corrinne, and Joe, and I turn right because I can’t wait to return to them. It’s true, I am an introvert, but I know they understand that. And although – or perhaps, because – they care so deeply about me, they won’t push me to talk about how I’m doing if I’m not ready to. They’ll give me the time I need to process all that is so new, and they’ll support and encourage me through that by simply being there. And that “being there” is what I really need. Something that my community gives so freely that all the driving in the world can’t.
I turn right for another reason, too. It’s because coming home to this community also means returning to an overwhelming and contagious joy – a joy that buoys me up no matter how rough my day was. Not a day goes by that we don’t find ourselves laughing together over a funny story (or pun), a noble but unsuccessful attempt at adulthood (Cooking? Paying our own bills? Filling the gas tank?), or one of Joe’s famous one-liners (famous here at the FC house anyway…) And often, the smiles and the laughs come from simply being together. For that same “being there” that encourages me every day also brings us all a joy and laughter and love without which, we couldn’t do the work we’re doing.
It’s a community that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, and so when I get to the corner of Newell and Salina, I turn right.