Cornerstone Magazine Fall 2015 - Page 14

Finding Providence JENNIFER CURRIER Long ago I made an agreement with God, that if he wanted me to do something, he would have to give me obvious signs. Of course, I’d prefer burning bushes that are not consumed, and doves that descend while a James Earl Jones-like voice narrates, but I’ll settle for road signs and online magic eight balls. Now, to be clear, I don’t ask for signs because I’m “testing” the Lord, and I don’t actually make demands of Him; I only ask for signs because I don’t trust the decisions I make—are they of God’s will or my own desires? When something outside of my control agrees with my inclination, it’s just one of the ways I affirm the still, small voice inside. I think God understands this and meets me where I am, and the fact that I am here, in Providence, working at Brown, is a testament to God’s answer to my request. Two-and-a-half years ago, I quit my job, packed up my Prius, and drove across the country to live in Rhode Island. The most pressing question I receive when people find out I did this is “Why would you want to move here?” as though I’ve chosen to live on the surface of the sun (which, for the record, sounds quite nice with winter approaching). They assume I came for work or for school, and because I did neither, and because I am not married to someone who came here for work or for school or is a native Rhode Islander, I am an enigma. But it’s hard to explain in one sentence why I came to Rhode Island. I did not create an Excel sheet with color-coded columns and square little boxes to rationalize my move. I used gut feelings and inner voices; I spent time praying and fretting and, of course, looked for signs. But in the end, I admit that it was Providence who brought me to Providence. ** I am originally from Roswell, New Mexico, a city known for UFO incidents and little else. It’s located within a state that’s often confused with a foreign country, so regularly, in fact, that I’ve stopped correcting people when they compliment me on my English. I discovered New England because of graduate school, where I attended Dartmouth College, but I discovered Rhode Island because of a boy. I fell in love immediately with his writing and with his accent: he sounded like he was orchestrating a mafia takedown whenever he’d talk to his parents on the phone. It was a mixture of Rhode Island and Boston and Long Island—something so foreign to my ears that listening to him felt like watching a movie. His dark curly hair was 12 CORNERSTONE Magazine kept back with a headband, and he had the palest of blue eyes, the color of morning sky through a layer of mist. He had a scar near his right eye that would disappear in the wrinkles of his smile, and features so chiseled they could have been cut from stone and brought to life. The students in our program likened him to a Greek god and nicknamed him “Hot Dan from the MALS department,” which I shortened to HD. He was mortified when he found out. I learned that going where there is peace is the same as going with God. In the summer of 2011, he brought me home for the first time. We watched fireworks on the 4th of July from a mansion in Jamestown; we dug sand-couches in Charlestown beach and drank craft beer out of red plastic cups; we played paddleball by the ocean and soccer in his parents’ backyard. We kayaked and visited tourist destinations, walking the Cliff Walks in Newport, and he introduced me to true Rhode Island cuisine: Del’s lemonade, stuffies, clamcakes, grinders, and coffee milk. He even drove me through College Hill, around Brown’s campus, a place I’d never been but I knew I’d return to someday. I’ll never forget the way I first saw Brown as a secret garden, green and gated, with magic hidden behind its walls, but at the time the observation melted into the rest of summer. It was the type of summer that love stories are written about, where dreams and reality blend until you aren’t sure which is which. And perhaps for that reason, our story had to end. I knew the end was inevitable because I knew him, but it broke my heart just the same. ** I was living in Roswell again when I first considered moving to Rhode Island. I don’t remember how or when it happened, but the image of Rhode Island popped into my head like an advertisement flashing on the television screen. Did I really just see what I thought I saw? At that time, HD and I were no longer speaking, and the idea of relocating to a state in which the only person I knew was my ex-boyfriend seemed absurd. I had a great job; my apartment was perfect; my parents lived nearby and I had a routine. I had no reason to leave. But on New Year’s Day of 2013, I woke up as if from a nightmare, unable to fathom another year in Roswell. A paradigm shift occurred overnight—suddenly I dreaded