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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie

A few weeks ago, I received a surprising email from a friend in the area. She had given notice at her job, given notice at her apartment building, and was picking up and moving alone from Washington, D.C. to California at the end of the month. No job in hand. No place to live. No true knowledge of the area.

And you probably just read that paragraph and thought the same things that I thought when I first read the email. Is she crazy? What will she do for money if she can't find another job for a while? Where will she live? Why would anyone give up their stable life for a cross-country move without reason?

There were the selfish thoughts: but I'll miss you. And the incredulous thoughts: do you really think this will make you happier? And the other incredulous thoughts: California is just so far away from everyone you know and love. If you want warm, why can't you try Florida?

And the jealous thoughts: how fantastic would it be to live on the beach? How fantastic would it be to be at the mouth of this brilliant new experience that could lead to...anything?

I don't want to move. I don't want to pick up and start over somewhere. That truly didn't run through my mind. I'm happy where I am--location and situation. But there's this excitement that comes from the first day of school or the first day in a new city or the first day of marriage that is so fleeting. Anything could happen. And you sometimes wish you could experience that level of excitement again. Because you forget that it comes as part of a total package that includes many other emotions--some good and some undesireable.

I know that she's scared and I know that she's wondering if this was the best idea in the world. But this is the way she explained it to me. She is not expecting this move to make her happy. She's not expecting that by moving she will meet her future husband or become a mother. She's not expecting that by moving all the pieces of her life will fit cleanly into place and she'll find a satisfying career and a wide circle of friends.

The reason she is moving is that she realized that she could be unhappy and confused in a city that she dislikes or she could be unhappy and confused in a city near a beach that she loves. And she's taking back control of her life. For years, she has been waiting for life to happen, and she's coming to the realization that some of the things she wants are out of her control (sound familiar, anyone?). And she's just taking back the things she can control. Like where she lives. And owning a dog. And spending her free time on the beach. In a town that is sunny 360 out of 365 days of the year. As she said, she could deal with five days of rain. What she couldn't deal with anymore was working in a job that she didn't like and living in a city that she didn't like when she doesn't have the things she wants. She knows she may not have the things she wants in California, but at least she won't have them in a place that she chose. That represents the control she took back in her life.

I'm so proud of her because making those choices are so scary. And they're huge. And they come with a boatload of doubt. Isn't it just easier to stay in a place that you know, even if you're not happy? But she hasn't chosen the easier path. And I'm sure there will still be people who scoff at her decision to move. But why is one reason better than another? Why is it better to move for a job or for another person? She's chosen to move for herself. Not for any fleeting unstable reason--you can be fired from a job and you can lose a person. But no one can take self-awareness away from you. And she had her moment of clarity--her moment of self-awareness--where she looked at her life and thought, I could be doing this elsewhere. And where do I want to be?

And those are the best decisions we make--the ones we do for ourselves and no one else. Without regard to the struggle that lies before us when making those decisions, but trusting that it will all work out in the end. I hope she gets her happy ending. I hope she finds so much peace in California that the other pieces of the puzzle fit into place. I hope the drive cross-country is easy and that she stops at every corncob statue and canyon in the West to gawk. I hope she doesn't forget how strong she was the day she made this decision.

I love you, sweetie. Have a wonderful journey.


Anonymous said...

Holy cow!! She has more courage and adventure in her heart than I could ever have with a move like that!

But, I can see what you mean about her wanting to reclaim her life. After my last loss, I began to slowly do that because TTC/IF/Loss had dominated my life for so long. It started out with little things like highlighting my hair again, taking walks during lunch, reading again...and moved into bigger decisions like going into counseling and doing the doctor parade to see what the hell was wrong with me.

No, I didn't do a BIG move like hers...but I started to make moves for me to claim my life back, and any move like that takes some sort of strength and courage to do.

Us ladies dealing with IF/Loss could learn a lot from your friend's decision to pack up her life to explore herself...

Tara said...

Good for her! I think it's very exciting.

We did this a year ago--not a huge move like hers, but we decided we wanted to live somewhere else so we sold our house and moved an hour and a half away. We didn't know if we'd ever have children and we wanted to move closer to my niece and nephew. It did feel strange not to be moving for a job or to be closer to a sick relative or something. But the more we talked about it, we realized there are other legitimate reasons for moving--like quality of life!

We are still so happy that we moved and don't regret it for a minute.

sarah said...

Bravo to your friend. I actually made the move to DC from CA in my early 20s for a job and just stayed. Stayed too long and realized one day the exact thing she was feeling -- my job wasn't enough to soothe the other parts of me that were unhappy about being there. So I moved home to CA without a job or a place to live (I ended up on my dad's couch for 6 long months) but it made me indescribably happy.

It turned out that taking control of where I lived my life and who was in it did "fix" somethings. I met the man who would become my husband within six months of moving. My old safety net was gone but the freedom to make my life out of thin air made up for the loss of friends I could see every day.

I may be struggling with infertility now, but I thank god every day that I have a husband who loves me and wants to parent as much as I do. I doubt I ever would have found that had I not picked up my life and moved.

I don't know where she's going but I'm in Northern CA if she needs a to chat with a fellow former DC resident. And let her know I've met HUNDREDS of them since moving back.

Celeste said...

Actually, my first thought in reading about what your friend is doing wasn't "She's crazy," it was "sounds familiar." I've always been a jump-without-a-parachute kind of girl. I went to live in the Brazilian Amazon for a year when I was 17, since then moved over a dozen times, and in 2000 moved to China with $100 in my pocket. Seriously.

What I find touching about this woman's story is the knowledge of self. When we tune in and follow our intuition, it opens the door for so many possibilities to emerge. There can be no doubt that she's doing what is right, and she's lucky to have a friend like you who will listen, process the information, and then encourage her to follow her heart.

Anonymous said...

Give your friend a big going-away hug from me! And tell her I feel the same way, and I'm giddy with the belief we'll both make it and never regret the move.

I can't believe how well you get it!


Piccinigirl said...

if we could all be that self aware, I am so overwhelmed not just by her courage, but her belief that it might not be everything she dreams about , but that the choice is the right one. Any journey is a hard one at the start, but you find your way. You always do.

Big hug to your friend and thanks to you for sharing her story with us. I wish her a peaceful and safe journey.

Cibele said...

Indeed making those choices are so scary. Right now I am in the process of choosing where to go next. I already moved from Brazil to Kansas and that was scary, but I made it.. I am finishing my PhD. have many friends here, but now it is time to move on. I so wish I had a family already because here would be the right place to stay, but I don't! so Bethesda, MD sounds like the next good thing for me now. I got a job offer there and MD has infertility coverage (as far as I know). It is not ideal place, but it is my ideal job. I guess we can not have it all!
good luck to your friend.
I have until December to make my decision