On Moving Home

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A few months ago Kamel and I were driving around our neighborhood, coming home from something or other. It had just started becoming spring, the sun was out and everything had that almost neon green color. The green of new, like a giant sign on the highway: LIFE IS HERE. We were pulling around a curve, I remember exactly where we were and I said, “You know… only good things came of us moving here. Only good. I can’t think of one bad thing.” And Kamel said, “Yeah, you’re right,” in that easy way he has.

I did have some fears about moving to Seattle, some anxieties. I worried after that long long hunt to find a doable 2 bedroom that we really really loved, we wouldn’t be able to find an apartment that felt as good. I worried, no I knew, that we wouldn’t be able to find a daycare that was as nurturing, as loving, as supportive and wonderful as our daycare was. I worried that, alone, would be a great disservice to Gabe. I cried over that fear many times.

I worried about balancing family expectations after spending 10 years away. I worried about the weather and whether or not Kamel, who grew up in tropical Miami and mild Mexico City, would be able to adjust. I worried that Kamel would end up hating Seattle, and then my big journey home would not only be a burden, but would ultimately have a detour. If Kamel hated it, how could we stay?

And as much as I had pushed and pushed to come, as much as I had prayed, cried, crossed my fingers, lamented about ho I “just want to go HOME, Kamel!” As much as I felt like Odysseus never quite being able to make it back, there was this little voice in the back of my head asking, “Is your adventure really over then? I this it? No more cities? No overseas living? No Boston apartment blocks from the commons? This is it, Miss Wanderlust? Roots, you say?” I couldn’t help but second guess it. We’re doing this? We’re doing this.

So, we did it. And it has been about 90% amazing. A solid, big picture and day to day positive. I feel like the weather is such a massive part of Seattle, but also a huge factor in happiness no matter where you’re from and yes, there is weather here. But I am relieved to say it delights us. Kamel often marvels at how beautiful it is, continually shakes his head at all the warnings and anxieties we all had, at how he would handle the cold of the winter, the darker days, the rain. Though all of the bad exists, thankfully there is a beautiful balance, there is a pay out of 10 fold. There is no way I could have appreciated the beauty here without living in other places.

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Even our daycare, which is different, not necessarily better or worse, than our daycare in the Bay Area, has been a good transition. Our apartment was a fantastic find, like it was meant to be. Sometimes I still miss our old neighborhood, I miss an apartment that had windows on 3 sides, I miss hard wood floors and having now one above us or next to us. But! I love having a remodeled unit, views of Lake Washington, being across the street from a park with a playground and a wading pool, and and and the perk of two bathrooms.

There are some things that overwhelm me sometimes. Kamel and I were an island in the Bay Area. We were our little family and that was it. Weekends were ours to do as we pleased. We lacked a strong social community, and the only family we had was an 8 hour car ride or a 2 hour flight. At times it was really isolating and difficult, especially with a new baby, but being home I sometimes feel pushed and pulled in too many directions. It sounds like I’m saying, “ohhh the perils of being popular! SIGH!” but it’s not that. It’s a lot of balancing, it’s a lot of juggling. A huge reason we moved home was to be with my community, to build our own community, to give Gabe a village. It’s part of the transition. Before it was just us, and now it is still us but us means something a little different. Now I’m home for mother’s day and father’s day, now I get to be present for birthdays and retirement parties, for the every day things like the occasional Sunday dinner and walk in the park. Now we have people to be with Gabe so we can go to the movies, or the Sounders game. We have resources. We also have responsibilities.

There are still work struggles, there are still bathrooms to clean, and clothes to wash and professional ladders to climb. But being here makes those things better. It makes looking 5, 10 years down the road easier, more attainable. We can actually discuss the neighborhood we’d like to buy a house in. We don’t have the “what-if” dangling in the back of our mind when it comes to going for a promotion or the possibility of a career change. The birds sing in the mornings and we shake our fists at the construction on the way to work, and our social calendars and our weekends are packed full to the brim and sometimes I want to hide, but mostly I marvel at how we live here. How this is our home and that is the park Gabe will one day say, “I played there when I was little.” And it happened. I am still amazed it happened.

14 thoughts on “On Moving Home”

  1. I totally relate to this. We’re still in that “what if?” phase because my husband’s faculty position is just “visiting,” and I’m pushing hard for us to move all the way back to Boston (we’re in Western Mass now), but there have been many adjustments to coming back to New England. Almost all of them have been amazing, but moving to the area that makes us within easy reach of my husband’s family has been both great and challenging. 😉 Mostly great. 🙂

    But man, I cannot wait to be out of the “what if” phase! Hopefully in a year, we’ll know where we’ll be living forever. Hopefully soon I can daydream about house buying around here (or somewhere else) or apartment hunting in Boston, I can do my planning about where Avi will go to school and how I’ll commute to work (or if I’ll still have to work from home). Having our entire lives up in the air is so hard (for me), so I’m happy that you get to feel that settled down feeling. Not that it doesn’t mean that you can’t have adventures, but for me — a person who loves to plan — knowing which airport I’d fly out from and what home I’d come back to makes the planning that much more fun. 🙂

    1. I totally totally TOTALLY get that “what-if” phase. It feels like everything is on hold until…. until… until……. WHEN? I am hoping that everything comes together for you sooner rather than later. <3

      1. My husband doesn’t understand the “what-if” phase feeling. He (for better or worse) is so easygoing that he’s happy wherever he lives, so he’s mentally settled down already. But I can’t! How can I settle down when I can’t imagine what area we’ll buy a house in, or where our son will go to kindergarten… or alternately, what area we’d live in Boston, what daycare would our son go to (and how in the hell would we pay for it?!)? My husband *only* lives in the moment. As usual, we balance each other well, but it would be nice for him to get where I’m coming from! (He tries… he tries…) <3

  2. Oh Lauren! I struggle with this so much. We are stuck in Cincinnati for at least two more years, and after that I don’t know where we will go. I feel like I’ve been away from the NW for so long it doesn’t even feel like “home” anymore…. I also think that after 7 years of trying to make it back, when P matched in Cincinnati I became resigned. Now I’m just confused! So this is encouraging? I guess I just hope that I eventually get to some sort of “peace” about it all like you have!

    1. You are doing great if you can find a home elsewhere! There was no peace in my family or my life once I got pregnant. I wanted to move home SO badly and there was just no way until Kamel could get a job. I felt so incredibly powerless and like it would never ever happen. It was horrible.

      But! we handled it by figuring out what we wanted and then agreeing that no matter how inconvenient, at the next possible opportunity we were going to jump on it. It became our end goal. But we did think about making buying a house in Napa our end goal, or figuring out another path that would fulfill us.

  3. Thank you for writing this! I felt so many of these feels when trying to move back to Chicago after only living in Ohio for three years. I knew I would love going back, but I was so worried that my husband wouldn’t feel as home in this city as I did. Luckily it all worked out and we’ve been living happily in Chicago for over a year now.

  4. My favorite thing about your blog is it often mirrors my life, and your fears and concerns mirror mine. I have also been away for 10 years (not as far, but a 5 hour car ride), and we are looking to move nearer to family. I feel so reassured that you have the same fears and concerns. We like our independence, but we want family, but not too much family, blah blah blah. It makes me feel normal. So thank you.

  5. Yay!
    I moved back to my home city after 5 years away doing university and life stuff, and it felt so much like home I didn’t want to leave. Mark is from another city (3 hour ferry + 4-5 hour drive or 1 hour flight away), and I wonder whether he has the thoughts you have – although his home city (where all his family is), is far and away not the same as it was growing up.
    I get wanderlust. Our what-if at the moment is a potential shift to Europe. Sometime in the next 5-10 years. With LJ. Its not intended to be permanent, but it might be medium-long term (5 years), and there are things I want LJ to do back here before he fully grows up. So its a hard balancing act.

  6. I totally understand about the “I just want to go HOME” feelings. When we first moved away from my beloved city, I was doing okay, but as the months wore on, my “we can do this for 5 years” turned to 3….which turned to 1. Almost weekly I was having tearful breakdowns of the “I just want to go HOME” variety, and finally, thank God, I got a job as soon as my year of purgatory was up (aka, I could start looking once I wasn’t on probation anymore and feared being let go if my job search was discovered!) so we could move back home to our city. And being back is so weird and yet normal. It feels somehow like we never left. The city kept on chugging, and it simply decided to let me back in, and…I’m home. For good. It still feels like a dream, though. Like, I’m terrified I’ll wake up and find myself back in depressionville city, or worse, lose my job here and be royally fucked.

    Family is tough. Mine’s closer to this area, and his is closer now too, but we’ve been able to establish pretty good boundaries (I think…we’ll see what happens after this baby gets here).

    Home. I will never disparage this city again.

  7. We are in a sort of limbo too. Though both of us moved away from home and are planning on going farther, but it would be closer to my sister and her family (we are currently down in Vancouver, WA and they are in the Seattle area). I find myself making plans here and then feeling like I shouldn’t, since we are hoping to be able to move in another 4 years or so. But I’m already looking at houses in places I’d like to live, even though we can’t quite afford to move yet. It’s a strange place in which to be.

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