It’s been a million years since I’ve purged my thoughts. Instead of regurgitating everything that’s happened in the interim, I’ll start from where I am.
Currently, that’s on a plane from Oakland to Burbank, returning from our first scouting trip to investigate schools and neighborhoods in the Bay Area. We’re moving at the end of next month.
Short-selling the house felt absolutely liberating. I guess we didn’t really “get” how bounded, taxed, burdened we felt by those claustrophobic walls. Each day when the kids woke up the house enclosed me more. I let the back yard descend into a wild, untended jungle, unsuitable for trikes or sidewalk chalk or bare feet. The front of the house was a common driveway. We were all miserable.
When we found The Perfect House (which, in light of our current situation, has been renamed The Summer Home), Dave was in the midst of negotiating a job offer that would relocate us to the Bay Area. He received the offer on the day we signed our lease. We’re not allowing ourselves to get too attached to this place. Sadly. It’s The Perfect House.
Moving to the Bay Area thrills and scares me. I didn’t really get sad until I saw all of our friends get sad. The impact of this change only compounds as I comprehend what it all really means: I’m leaving Southern California. I’ve lived within 100 miles of my childhood home for my entire life. I’ve never lived more than 2 hours from my parents. My little family is leaving the beautiful town we’ve called “home” for a decade in pursuit of greater things somewhere else.
Again, it’s thrilling and scary. I like the idea of feeling brave and heading into the unknown. I think I relish in discovery. Honestly, I’m doing my best to remain positive, yet I come back to some comfortable basics: I have beautiful friendships, an inspiring workplace, and a perfect house. I can walk to work and my best friend’s house. The kids are in dream schools. Now our future city is unclear, as are new schools and a new workplace. “Why,” I wonder, “are we doing this?”
Well, there are many answers, but there is one that is the most important. Dave needed a fresh start. We all did, I really. This blog began in the middle of a five year “life-changing event” spree that left us exhausted and burned out. My heart purged onto this page repeatedly, therapeutically releasing all of the ills and needs in my world. I’m pretty sure my husband worked right through it all, denying himself the opportunity to process everything as he fought to keep our family afloat. However, in the past 6 months, he’s allowed himself to face and conquer the anguish we’ve experienced. Only through those hours of self-discovery was he able to consider this God-sent job offer. When I saw how open his heart had become, I simply couldn’t close mine off.
Years ago, when I was pregnant with Alexandria, Dave’s uncle passed along some incredible advice. “Dave,” he said, “Do you know how to be a good father?”
“Well, I think…no, Chuck.”
“Be a good to your wife.”
I’m following Chuck’s advice. My calling, my commandment, is to be a good wife. We need to leave more than I need to stay. Really, the ride challenges me to step away from all that makes me feel safe and comfortable, which I desperately crave. Can we be that family that I envision? Can we be that solid unit, bonded, tight, complete?
What I’m learning through this process, though, is that I didn’t have a clear understanding of where I’d planted myself. I knew I’d dug in roots, but where? Are my roots in my town? Am I fully vested in Ventura? I’m not sure I am. My kids go to school here and I work here. I love living here. But many towns have comparable amenities to Ventura. It’s not the town. So are my roots in people? No. My friends fill my cup and make me feel normal on my worst days, but the glow of a computer screen keeps them close, as do trains, planes, and automobiles. And phones. Am I bound to my family by proximity? No. Our families support our move (some reluctantly) and cheered when the offer came. We can Skype and write and fly and drive and meet halfway and all the other stuff that other families do when somebody lives far away!
I realized where my roots lie as I packed for this trip. On Thursday, as I prepared to leave, Alexandria was on an overnight at the BFF’s house and The Dude was at Dave’s parents. Dave was to join me on Friday. I was alone in my house preparing to go do a scary thing alone, and I hated it. As I drove to the airport, I became more and more unsettled, unsure of why I couldn’t concentrate, standing precariously on the edge of panic. I felt suspended between two places. My boat floated adrift on the ocean without a sail. I needed somebody, a familiar voice, a small hand, a kiss on my neck. Anything!
And then it hit me. My roots are in my little tribe. At that moment, I wanted so desperately to have my husband, my girl, or my boy with me. They’re like my safety blanket. I realized that my roots are in them. Geography doesn’t matter. If we’re together, I’m home.
As we mentally and physically pack our things and move again, I predict some bumps and hurdles. I may or may not have a panic attack. It’s probably inevitable. But for the first time in, well, ever, I feel perfectly safe and sound. I’ve got all of my people with me and we’re going to be fine. I’ll miss friends and this nice, cozy life, but I’m not worried about money or breaking-down cars or messy houses or anything. I don’t give a hoot about a possible flood (hello renter’s insurance!) or the “good” part of town being out of our price range. I know it’s out of my hands and that knowledge liberates me. I’m on the edge of that cliff again, perched to launch into any possibility. This time it's different. I've got a crew! I’m not even afraid to jump, because last time I did, I flew. I guess we’re all getting wings.