The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner

Why I Stayed: Anastasia Bird

Having lived here for a year from 2005-06, I moved back to Wales, to get a degree in Biology and watch my siblings grow up a little longer. My degree took three years to ascertain and over the course of that time, I remained in a romantic relationship with a distinguished gentleman caller who lived in JPUSA still. We had a lot of ups and downs, and by the end of the three years we had broken up and gotten back together a couple of times. I had bought a plane ticket back to Chicago shortly before graduating and then breaking up with him yet again. Blue collar to the core, I couldn’t bear to let an expense out of my own pocket go to waste. I returned to JPUSA in the summer of 2009, “just to visit.”

I am still here. I’m no longer dating said distinguished gentleman caller, but I am still here. And a couple weeks in to my second round in 2009, a friend asked me if I thought I was staying. I exclaimed for all to hear, “Stay? Where I can be engaged in meaningful work, enveloped by loving, wonderful, wondering people, with access to all the deep conversation about things that matter to me I could ever want? Stay? Where art and music abounds for the taking? . . . Let me get back to you on that.”

That year was 2014. I have since stopped proclaiming my love, venting my love, for the community for all to hear. I have been changing as a person and the things I want out of life look different. I have experienced some disappointment and pain within the walls of humanity here and have done my share of tallying the days in charcoal. I have been introduced to dark, damp, fungi-ridden layers of myself and the people around me, the treachery and loyalty I am equally capable of. I have hurt and un-loved others.

But I still want this. I still want these people, these human walls off of which I bounce back when I lose myself, fall past my invisible ground floor, choose what is life-sucking. And these people, God knows why, still want me around. I am a problem they have chosen to endure and enjoy for a time, like a pimple nobody pops for fear of scar tissue. (The editor does not agree with this statement. Stasia is a wonderful person.)

I don’t know how long I will remain, but I know that this is a kind, quieter sort of place where people still read good books. And as Lemony Snicket would have us believe, those are the best sorts of places.

Stasia Bird
Latest posts by Stasia Bird (see all)