November 6, 2018
In July, I moved with my husband and son from Denver, Colorado, where we have lived for eight years, to Hamburg, New York (south of Buffalo). My husband is a Buffalo native and I am from Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. It moved me very close to home as well.
Moving! UGH! Am I right? A cross-country move takes it to a whole new level. It all happened so fast, yet not fast. Three years of “thinking” about it. My husband had two previous job opportunities sort of in the area, but we ultimately turned them down. My son has Mosaic Down Syndrome. Moving him away from his life and his support network in Colorado isn’t easy.
But then in April another offer came. In Buffalo. My husband said yes. From that moment our life in Denver was over. In a matter of three short months we quit good jobs, sold our house, had a huge yard sale, packed up, cleaned like crazy, held my son while he cried, and said our good-byes.
On July 9 we drove away. One last drive through the big, beautiful city of Denver at rush hour. We took a last look at the incredible mountains and it was over. We were out of the city and the landscape completely changed. Flat. Scrubby. Dry. Colorless. Endless. Emptiness. What had we done? Did we seriously just leave Denver?
Ok … so now what?
We drove on and the windshield was covered in bugs. I hate that. Annoying. You can’t see. The black dots mess with your eyes and your head. I realized that was exactly how my life felt at that moment. I was a sweaty, dirty mess from the last of the clean-up. The chaos was over, but it left its mark.
Now I was sitting in a vehicle driving across the country and couldn’t see out the window. What’s out there? What’s going to happen? We didn’t know where we were going to live. We didn’t know where my son would go to school or if he would fit in or make friends. Had we ruined his life? Would Craig like his job? Was this the right thing to do? The lack of clarity and guarantees was messing with my head like those bugs.
We took three days to drive to NY. We would try to clear the windshield with fluid. It would smear. Then for a few moments it might seem better and you could see out the window. The world IS still out there! You think that might be the end of the bugs, but no. Minutes later the windshield would be covered again, and you couldn’t see. My life. For a few moments I could remember why we made this choice but then it would blur as the reality continued to set in. The people and the life we left behind. How hard it would be to start over. It was surreal. I was numb.
Everything we owned was on a truck, somewhere ….
Did we leave for the reasons I think we left or because we are inherently discontented people who can’t just be happy? Did we not truly appreciate everything and everybody we had there? Did I miss something? Will we be settled and content in the new life? Is that possible for us?
Shouldn’t I be feeling panic, doubt, fear, and dread by now? I think we can talk ourselves into feeling those things sometimes. Self-talk is huge. We made a life-altering choice and it was playing out in front of us. I lived in Colorado! We had a great house on a great street with great neighbors. My son went to a great school. Such an amazingly beautiful place where other people long to live and we left! Shouldn’t I be in full blown panic mode, sobbing and filled with regret? I even tried to feel those things!
But I was exhausted.
We passed huge farms in Nebraska. Man, they grow a lot of corn. I looked at the farms. The houses and the barns. So far away from really anything. I wondered about the people who live there. Why are they there? Do they love living there and working the land? Do they have a choice? Maybe they love the space, the fields, the sky, the quiet? Are they happy? Fulfilled? Content?
It made me wonder … what do I really want? What do I want my life to be about? What kind of house or neighborhood would I like to live in? What do I want it to feel like? What kind of atmosphere do I want to create in my new home? Why are we doing this again? What does “content” look like? I couldn’t picture it.
There were some beautiful rivers along the way. I have missed the water. I grew up on Georgian Bay. It’s in me. Its presence or absence truly affects me. I have made some big life decisions walking along the shores of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, the Gulf of Mexico, Wrightsville Beach in NC. Being near the water soothes my soul. It quiets the craziness in my head. I wished I could stop and sit by the river now. I wanted to let those feelings come up and work out just what was going on in me. I wanted to try and decide if I had indeed made the right decision.
There was no time for stopping. It was too late to sit by the water and work through it. Right choice or not, it was done, and I had to move forward.
We arrived at our two-bedroom apartment in Hamburg, NY. The windshield was still covered in bugs, but I realized that I had a clean slate. Starting over is so HARD! But I had the chance to reinvent myself. The chance to discover all the great things about this place and these people. The chance to begin again. Do it right. Be kind. Be brave. Be honest. Be real. It’s a scary place to be with all the unknowns and what-ifs. No guarantees. I was sure the numbness would give way to panic, doubt, regret, and sobbing any minute.
I braced for it.
And then I stepped out of the car – out from behind that messy windshield – and into the daylight, thinking, "And so it begins."
Part 2 coming soon!