Thursday, September 28, 2017

Uprooting (Or: Why We're Leaving the City for the Country)

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This post has been a long time coming. I'm not just talking about waiting a few weeks to write it - this post has been in my heart for the past several years, I have a feeling that's no surprise to many who may or may not be reading. And now HERE WE ARE! In the past, making the big "we're moving announcement" on this blog has felt like an integral part of the process of uprooting ourselves. Like, first we tell family and friends, then I tell the internet at large. But this time it felt too personal. If you've been following along recently, you might have gleaned the past few months have been tough for us. My job/team was eliminated at Etsy, Chris's grandfather passed away... among several things that have felt too personal to post here but that have had a huge impact on us. If anything, 2017 has tested us and given us pause, it's forced us to think of the bigger picture in so many ways, we've faced mortality in others and we've had to face our own mortality, too. And for those reasons – and honestly, so many more – we've decided it's finally time we return to whence we came – New England. More specifically, Maine.

Maine!

It's funny writing this, thinking back. When I started this blog, I was very much a New England blogger – so much so that people were actually pissed I was moving, ha! – but at this point, I've been blogging in Pennsylvania for six years. Six YEARS. How wild is that? And yet, I think it's pretty clear my heart has always been "back home". We've always talked about moving back, but always in a far off, when we're older sense. When the timing was right. When we found the right jobs. When we had enough money. Well, if there's anything this year has taught us, it's that the timing will never be right. So, why not now? Don't get me wrong, this summer was pretty rad, but it was also very, very challenging. For the first time in my life, I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted or where I wanted to be. As the primary breadwinner of our little family, the not knowing was an uncomfortable place to  be. I looked for jobs in Philly, I received a job offer over the bridge in New Jersey. It payed well – really well. We could have stayed put in our place and continued on with city life comfortably enough. I almost took it. Then Hank (Chris's grandfather) passed away and we travelled home on the week I was to make my decision. Death has a way of putting things into stark perspective and after the service I knew the job wasn't right, and neither was staying in the city. While Philly has been (mostly) good to us, when we thought long and hard about the kind of environment we wanted to be in, the kind of place where we're happiest, this wasn't it. And suddenly a paycheck wasn't enough to keep us here. And not a day goes by that I don't give thanks to myself for turning down that damn job. Essentially, the past few months have been full of questions...

"It's a question I think a lot about - do I move to where I want to be and take a chance or do I stay where I am, where I am comfortable, where I have a good job but I hate the town, the people, sometimes the work (hah), the climate..??? I'd love to hear how you navigate this and your thoughts."

N, I hope you don't mind me copy/pasting a portion of your recent comment in this post... but the questions you're asking are the same ones I'd been asking myself for the past couple of years. Is it enough to be comfortable? For me, it no longer was. I thought about going back to Free People, because the Navy Yard was an environment I was comfortable with and the company was one I was familiar with (and honestly really enjoyed) – but why? Just to pick back up where I left off? Just to stay where we are, in an apartment with a leaky ceiling? The thought of moving within the city was one we quickly brushed aside – we like our neighbors too much, enjoy living across from the park instead of across from more row homes, as much as the hole in the ceiling left much to be desired.

In the end, staying comfrotable felt like a death. We've met some incredible people in this city, but if we allowed our roots to get any deeper, I know we would both feel stuck. If we didn't move, we'd always be left wondering - what if? In making the decision to move, we'll at least know and can put the curiosity to bed. Maybe it'll be amazing... maybe it won't. But I can't keep wondering. Isn't it better to know, to see the other side? And honestly the struggle can't be any harder, at this point we've gone through some shit. This ain't our first rodeo, as they say (does anyone actually say that?). I think a lot of our hesitation/fear has been around jobs and money - afraid of not finding something, or to have to face hardship, forgetting completely that we've been through the wringer already. For all the amazing things that have happened over the past few years, we've also been broke, we've been mugged (seven times!), the car has broken down, jobs have been lost, medical issues that come with medical bills have arisen... essentially, we've powered through all the shit that's come our way. So we can handle all the good and all the bad that may come with this. For the first time EVER, we're not moving for a job (though I'm thankful to have a trial gig with a remote company, making it possible for us to have a small safety net or at least illusion of one, and Chris already has a ton of opportunities he's stoked about), we're moving purely to be in a beautiful place we love. I'm sad to leave our friends in Philly, but excited to get to know our parents as adults, to be able to see them casually on the weekends (instead of the typical frenetic holiday gatherings of the past few years), and to reconnect with our friends in that area (and for the hiking! And surfing! And real winters!). As my mom has reminded me over the years as we prepped to move from Beverly to Pittsburgh and from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, "you make friends everywhere you go", and it's true. We'll always be able to visit Philly, and what's more, our friends now have a pretty sweet vacation spot if they ever come to Maine!

That's not to say I don't have my hesitations. We're lucky enough to be able to stay with my mom for a few months, but I'm also sad to leave the space we created for ourselves. Even though this was a decision we made on our own accord, there's a certain kind of fear that comes with returning to the very small town you grew up in (at least for me), even for just a few months. I'll need to wear real winter boots again – not just fun little booties. I'm incredibly sad to leave our friends and contacts in Philly, and my favorite coffee shop, and the yoga studio I feel at home with, and being able to walk all over the city, and the way sunlight filters down Pine Street early in the morning. And my stylist! I finally found a salon that I love, dammit. But these are small things. Things easily dealt with, and I have a feeling the benefits will outweigh it all. Friends can visit (and so can we). Cool winter boots can be found (plus, I mean snow). In the end, we're SO DAMN EXCITED about this. I know this post may sound tinged with a bit of sadness - but really, I'm exhausted! As much as we tried to approach this move like adults, per usual we're stressed and tired (is there any other way to move?). And I am a little sad. I'm about to say goodbye to our home of three years (plus, no more cat cafes to walk by in the mornings). But in the end, I'm excited for what's to come and for the opportunity to rediscover the dormant parts of myself and to get out of my comfort zone. So Maine, here we come! Let's do this.


18 comments:

Nicole said...

This post perfectly captures the huge range of emotions of moving home.
I did this myself only five months ago, moving across the coast and living with my parents for the summer. It's so difficult, but when it feels like the only sane option you just have to go for it. Good luck!

Orchid Grey said...

Nicole - Oh, I am a veritable STORM of emotions right now, I appreciate you saying that because it was difficult to put into words what I'm feeling. I hope your own move went well, and it's true, it's the only sane option for us so we're jumping in!

Kate @ GreatestEscapist.com said...

I'm so excited for you to be headed back to Maine. I haven't been back to New England for a few years, & I miss it SO much. I'm dying to visit & to bring my fiance to see Portsmouth, especially. Maybe next summer!

N said...

Thank you for sharing this vulnerable part of yourselves with us.

A lot of our hesitation and fear is also rooted in fears about jobs and money and really you can decide not to be true to your heart and stay and be "secure" (what an illusion!)or as you said you can want more for yourself and embrace the discomfort and go where you love.

I love that you are being brave and I hope we embark on our own wild adventure soon. You are so inspiring and I look forward to hearing how it all unfolds. It will be magic I am sure.

Rachel Silva said...

My husband and I are at what sounds like the beginning of this! We recently moved to LA from a tiny nor-cal beach town. We definitely intend to move back in a few years! 10 seems to be our cap.
Good for you! This will be the best thing!!

Anonymous said...

I'm in a similar place career- and living-situation-wise. At some point, circumstances make one take stock and re-evaluate the costs and benefits of home, work and other arrangements. What's really worthwhile? What do I really long for? And should I commit to creating what I long for, instead of just longing for it? I found I had to admit that though I had what I had wanted as a description, the substance of it wasn't at all what I had hoped or was comfortable with. In fact, it was draining. It was such a relief to move on, even at substantial financial and social cost (many people just want you to keep a high-paying, high-status job regardless of how miserable you and everyone there are), and realize I could work on creating the life I wanted here and now. Both are a struggle, but one is draining and the other is constructive and enriching. Good on you for making a big step to find something that fits you better and feeds your life more in the here and now.

Erin said...

ah, you put into words so many of the things that i have felt myself. it was a huge decision we made to move back to my hometown and there were just so many emotions. i don't want to make this about me, so i'll spare you my own experience, and just tell you that this was a good read. you've got this!

Orchid Grey said...

Kate - Thank you! And please do let me know if you're back in Portsmouth anytime soon!

Gwen said...

Julie, I am so happy for you! Having read your blog for a few years, I kind of feel like I know you a little, and I could always sense how much you missed Maine. Honestly, I can understand a little bit of that longing for nature - I grew up in Western Norway and now live in the UK, and while it's never feasible for us to move back there, I just crave that wild natural beauty sometimes. Lucky for me it's just a quick + cheap(ish) flight away, but that rain-washed countryside is just in my blood. I can't help but miss it, for all that London is much warmer and has infinitely more opportunities. In these days of working remotely and nomad women travelling the world doing just that, I'm sure you'll be able to make your own opportunities, too, you know?
PS: I hope this means Chris will have more time to cook shit for you. ;)

Christina said...

Julie- I've been reading your blog for many years, since well before you left New England. I could always tell by your homecoming posts over the years how bound to New England you were and it makes me so happy you're moving back! As a Massachusetts resident of many years I completely understand the draw of this area, which I love SO much. Best of luck to you and Chris in your future endeavors! <3

The Littlest Smitten said...

So happy for you two to be taking this step and making the change. As I fellow New Englander I say yeah! Best of luck with the move and the next few months. ❤️❤️❤️

pamma said...

I’m a long time reader, but usually don’t comment... I have to say though, this post is literally *everything*. I did exactly this myself about a year ago - packing up and moving cross country back to family and friends in the Midwest after establishing a life on the West Coast, for the exact same reasons you mention. You captured all the feels that go into the making and execution of a decision like this - from missing favorite haunts and friends and aspects of the city, to knowing that if you don’t make the leap, you’ll always wonder why... and maybe look back in misery wondering why you didn’t take that leap.

I’m almost a year into my decision to move, and I can tell you that as much as I miss the people and places of my old life, I don’t for a second regret my decision to take the leap. Like you said, it’s not like you won’t ever be able to go back or keep in touch with people, and in the end, the only thing that matters is your happiness. You can’t get that back later in life.

Good luck with the move and getting reestablished back in Maine! I’ll be rooting for you and Chris that it’s everything you needed and hoped for!

themidnighthour said...

I don't usually comment, but I'm so excited for you! I've been dealing with the very same issues lately, so it was nice hearing that someone else has felt the same. Especially since I live in a place that a lot of people want to move to - it feels very alienating to want to leave and feel unhappy when all my friends love it. Anyways - I'm happy that you made the choice to finally make the leap, and good luck to ya!! We'll be rooting for you.

Mouse said...

Yes to all this. I made this kind of choice in my late 40s and it was the best thing I ever did. Worth the more complicated professional choices.

Plus, now you're my neighbor......:) Come over anytime and let us know if there's anything we can do to help. Welcome back to Maine!!

XX

Unknown said...

Welcome back to Maine! I've never lived anywhere else, so what do I know, but Maine is such a simple place to live (if you like cold), I think it can truly help clear out headspace. Plus, the October air is literally healing; it's just turned crisp. Best of luck, I look forward to seeing your posts!

Unknown said...

longtime reader, just wanted to say i made a similar move 4 years ago and haven't regretted it once. that's not to say i didn't feel totally freaked out by the change of lifestyle, and don't pang for the plethora of delicious restaurants and things to do right outside my doorstep that i had in nyc. but the existential angst i felt when i lived there, which was deep and guttural and always under everything -- that is gone. you sound a lot like me in that new england is in your bones. i think you'll feel as i did -- you'll feel home. xo

Naomi said...

Best of luck Julie!! Maine sounds beautiful, and as a city dweller for most of my life, the thought of leaving (comfort and what I know mostly) is scary and weird, but something I (we) think about and talk about a lot. The idea of spaaaaace, nature, quiet, non-shitty apartments, sounds so good. Thank you for sharing your process and experience, it's inspiring and makes the whole thing so much more real and less jarring. And damn - 7 times! shit...

Richard Butler Creagh said...

Very well said!

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