We are moving to Idaho and I don't really want to talk about it. "You're moving??" people ask. They're shocked because it really feels like it came out of nowhere. It actually didn't. Jeff told me that he wanted to live in Idaho Falls again someday on our second date and I was like, "ok, handsome man, whatever you say." But I don't want to talk about moving for two reasons. I don't want to be moving and I don't want to move. I don't want to be moving because it always frames all interactions in a different light. You start thinking things like, "is this the last time I will visit this place?" or "is this the last time I will ever see this person?" I don't want to be moving because I feel like I've let down the people who are upset and I don't want to be moving because I also inexplicably feel hurt when people aren't upset, even though I don't want them to be upset. I guess I want to mean something to people, but I guess I don't want to mean too much.
And I don't want to move, or at least, I am conflicted about the move. Anyone who has spoken to me about it knows that. My attitude about it seems even more ambivalent when I discuss this in person, so I thought I better write it down because in general I make more sense written down. I am worried about the weather, I am nervous about the schools, I am worried that the culture will be too different. We are taking a slight pay cut. Jeff's job now is great -- a dream job, really. I fell in love with Virginia. I have friends I love. I love our townhouse. I love exploring the area. The schools are excellent. I like the diversity. My kids are happy here. I love our ward. I love the beautiful trees. I even don't mind the humidity.
I love it here. I can't even write that sentence without tearing up. How am I ever going to adequately explain our decision?
I'll start with Jeff.
Jeff Carr loves Idaho. Especially Idaho Falls. Everyday he reads his hometown paper, scours blogs for word on new developments, reads about decisions that local legislators have made. He tells me with pure happiness about new plans for parking structures downtown. He has such a pure, guileless love for his hometown and he has such a strong desire to serve in its community. I love Virginia, but I've never felt anything close to the love that he feels for Idaho Falls. And how can I begrudge him that? I love how much he cares about it. His feelings about Idaho highlight what I think are some of the very best parts of him -- his loyalty, his hard work, and his desire to good in the world.
I guess I'll continue on with our marriage. I mean, not that it is really the internet's business, but just to work through my thoughts.
I feel really fortunate in our marriage. Jeff is absolutely everything I ever hoped for in a spouse. He is encouraging and kind. We challenge each other intellectually. We have really similar senses of humor. He comes and waves to me every night when he brushes his teeth and laughs uproariously at my Randy Newman impression. He works so hard, but still comes home and does more than his share of the housework and child rearing. And not only adding in the factor that every time I see his face in a crowd I think, "who is that extremely handsome man?", we just fit well together. We agree on almost everything. I have issues I care about more, he has issues he cares about more, but we usually agree on just about everything.
This is the one thing we haven't agreed on.
When we moved here and Jeff got this amazing job, he told everyone that we were only planning on being in DC for about 5 years and then we'd like to go back West. And yes, I love the West. I love my family. I've always dreamt of raising my kids to be close to their grandparents. We see them now about twice a year, in visits so stressful and harried that I tried to cancel it last year. And I could go on and on about stereotypes about East vs. West, but I think I've come to the conclusion that all versions of these stereotypes are true (and not true) in different communities across two huge regions of our country. But anyway, the point of this paragraph is to say that Jeff has always planned on leaving and planting roots somewhere closer to our families, and I agreed. I did. There are so many benefits and blessings that would come from it. But Jeff said 5 years and I said we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I was always hoping that he'd change his mind and we'd maybe stay 10 years.
He didn't change his mind. Every time we'd go back home, I'd be so stressed and eager to return to Virginia, but Jeff would always be so relaxed and happy. I'd remind him that these feelings were probably because he was on vacation, and he'd agree, but he'd just agonize over returning home. Returning home to me meant coming back to my lovely townhome with natural light and having playdates, but to Jeff it meant waking up at 6 and commuting almost an hour each way to a job that he enjoyed, but that can be stressful. And I have to tread lightly here, 1) because Jeff's job is a blessing and I never want to downplay that and 2) because he hasn't resigned yet (though his boss knows his intention), but Jeff didn't love the idea of his future there. He was reaching the point in his career where he'd kind of have to decide what to do next. His career track is actually pretty limited and specific -- his choices boil down basically to: work on something that he's not passionate about and spend a lot of time away from home and earn more money; or remain as is, but with a lower chance of more income.
And the DC area is a hard place to raise a family of 3 kids on one income. It's hard to raise a family of 3 kids on two incomes, honestly. I've always felt like we could make it work if our hearts were in it. I could budget better, pick up something that would bring in a little extra income. We could maybe live abroad again. Jeff could take a career path that he's not excited about. We could make it work, but it would be hard. We have never had the career options to allow us to live here super comfortably. But I do think we could have made it work.
But I've got this husband. This absolutely wonderful human being. This incredible father. This loving and loyal husband. And his heart's not in it.
And I realized that I need to be more like him.
Jeff has a job that allows him to travel the world, meet important people. And I've always thought that was really amazing and I've been so proud of him. But I've started to feel like maybe I have placed too much meaning in his job. For me. As crazy as it sounds, when Jeff did cool things and met important people, a part of me felt like I was doing those things. So when Jeff comes and tells me that he'd like to go back west so that he could spend more time with me and the kids, be close to our families and do work in a community that he feels connected to, I really shouldn't balk, right? (I should clarify that yes, Jeff has been offered a great job, but I don't want to publicize it online until after he has given his current job notice. It is in the non-profit sector and he is super excited.) If your husband comes to you with a solution that means you'll be able to eventually be more financially stable, grow closer as a family and develop strong bonds with your extended family, it's really a pretty ideal situation, right?
I wish I could turn off that voice that tells me how safe and boring moving to Idaho is. I've really enjoyed being in an unfamiliar region of the country. I've loved living in the shadow of a large city. I truly think that I will miss that desperately. But I also have to acknowledge the small truth inside of me that knows that part of me doesn't want to move to Idaho because I like being different. Only slightly different, but different. Different from what is anyone's guess, but I've always felt that -- never a desire to rebel, but to be just a little memorable. I also have been acknowledging in my heart that this is my own vanity that I'm dealing with and not necessarily what is best for my family. (The children, for the record, are very excited for the move.)
And there are so many darn positives, there really are. Jeff's commute will probably be 10 minutes at the very most. The cost of living difference is insane. Housing costs about 75% less, and yet the city is growing at an impressive and admirable rate. Jeff has been offered a generous salary, with flexibility and some good benefits. He feels like he will be doing work that is good in a noticeable way (he often feels like a small cog in a big machine in his current job). We will live near his parents and I know this is a hard thing to articulate, but I feel like my kids just blossom when they are surrounded by a loving and supportive family. We hope to be able to still travel frequently. We hope to be able to actually go on dates and strengthen our marriage. We will live 3 hours from my family and some of my dearest friends. I will be able to spend a significant amount more time with them. My mom and I are already scheming up days where we meet up in Logan. My eldest brother and his wife are about to have twins and my heart feels so happy that I'll be able to have a more consistent relationship with them. My youngest brother, John, is severely disabled and lives in a group home and as I watch my parents grow older, I want to be able to reestablish a strong relationship with him. We are 14 months apart and one of the only things I've always been completely certain about is that I was put on this earth to love John. I want all of these things. I want that lifestyle.
I wish it wasn't complicated. The logical part of my brain can see all of the good things. I wish that I could turn off the part of me that hurts so much. I feel so sad about moving and then I feel so guilty for feeling so sad about a move that I agreed to. I keep crying when I look out and see my cherry tree. I love my cherry tree. We had one in Reston and when we bought our house here and I saw a Kwanzan Cherry in the front yard, it felt like a good omen. I love the tree so much. Every year it seems impossible that the flowers will come, but every year they are even more lovely. I cried because I missed them last year while we were in Bosnia.
I hoped that maybe I could grow one in Idaho, but I can't. I looked all over the internet to see if there was any evidence that I possibly could make one live there, but it isn't hardy enough for the winters. Maybe that's what's right. Maybe I need to find new things to love. A clean break. New blossoms to cry over.
But maybe the memory of my cherry tree shouldn't be something that causes me pain. I was reading about the Kwanzan Cherry while I was researching it and the forest service guide really goes over what a pain it is. It doesn't thrive super well in a lot of soil, it has a lot of pest problems and it only lives around 15 years under perfect conditions. The last line of the description made me pause because it didn't sound like language you'd expect from a forest guide: "But the tree is a joy during this short period and should be planted."
I knew that we wouldn't be here forever, but the anxiety and sadness that I have felt over leaving has truly been overwhelming. I almost wish that I didn't love it here. I almost wish that I didn't love people here. It would be easier that way.
I know I am probably in a bad mental state because I keep reading the cherry guide and finding deep meaning, but I can't help thinking that the forest service has it right. The period of time that I have spent here has been a joy and I think that's worth more than the fact that the time was relatively brief.
I'm trying to have a better attitude. Maybe Virginia is the best place in the world, filled with the best people in the world and that's why I'm so upset. But there's a tiny voice inside me that wonders if maybe its not just a reflection on what I'm leaving, but on me. Maybe I have loved it so much because I have been willing to love it. I won't be able to replace it, but hopefully I will be able to bring some of that love and connection that I've been able to feel for Virginia with me.
And plant it somewhere new.