August 13, 2015
It all started because something had to change. He knew it, I knew it, we just weren’t sure what that meant yet.
It had led to some pretty tough and scary conversations. Luck just never seemed to be on our side, except for the way we had reconnected. We knew that more than anything we wanted to get married and start a family; we had these dreams that weren’t out of the ordinary, but we were so insanely frustrated trying to figure out how we could achieve them financially. Especially given how everyone around us seemed to be doing just that (although we knew hardly anyone our age who had been able to buy a home).
Eventually I had to admit, to myself and (even harder) out loud to him, that at 31.75 years old I didn’t have much to show for myself either. A decent job as an executive assistant and a good education, yes, but I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, with diddly in savings (thanks to stupid decisions when I was in my 20s - and let's be honest, that were still happening), and I was still in debt to my university and my dentist. I was barely covering $800 a month in rent to share a tiny duplex. My car was 12 years old and really starting to show her age. After debt, car insurance, utilities, my 401(k), groceries, basic life supplies, a meal out and maybe a new item of clothing, there wasn’t much left over each month.
Middle age felt very close at hand and I had all but given up on ever owning a home in a decent neighborhood, but maybe together we could afford kids someday. Certainly not a home and kids at the same time. But when would that be? After we both busted our asses paying for and finding the energy to go back to school for something to maybe have better jobs five years from now?
I finally realized all these circumstances meant living a life on hold for at least several more years, hoping that housing in Orange County would get cheaper (yeah, right) or I’d find a better paying job, which would require a commute I would hate, but maybe I’d eventually come to terms with that. But my chosen profession maxes out at around $70k, with most making much less than that. And his income is based on lead generation, so it fluctuates and is taking time for him to build.
So essentially we’d keep on paddling in place, never reaching the shore. And I realized that was the true source of my anger and tears and weight gain. I was completely and utterly depressed about the future. Day to day I would be fine, my normal self, and then I’d allow myself to really think about everything and wind up curled in a ball in bed at 7pm.
No. No one was going to just up and hand us the life we wanted. We weren’t going to hit the lotto, and while our parents were as helpful and supportive as possible, we certainly didn’t want to be a drain on them. It’s amazing how much people know this (including us, obvi), and yet keep going in their lives as if it isn’t true. As much as I was holding on for dear life to my core desire of living near my parents for the rest of my days, so that my kids would know their amazing grandparents better than I ever had the chance to, something had to give. I was never going to have both at once. Living in Southern California and achieving our goals had become a pipe dream for us.
So we revisited what he had mentioned a few times since we met, something I had been swearing up and down I would never do: moving out of state. Away from nearly all our loved ones. It was unimaginable. It was unthinkable. But the immovable object remained, and I was thinking about it every spare moment of the day for weeks.
At the time, I came across an unattributed quote that struck home in a big way: Let go of how things should be. I really had to dig deep and reevaluate what was most important to me. Turns out it’s family - my future family, and providing the quality of life I think we’ll deserve. I don’t want to be 40 and finally able to do that. I don’t want to wait to have children with this wonderfully supportive man who is undoubtedly my person and the best thing that ever happened to me. Never mind the extra worry on a woman, however much we try to ignore it, at the thought of bearing children past a certain age. Let’s face it - aging can only be ignored if you have the finances to do so.
So, we revisited that crazy idea. And then we started doing our research to see if it would even be a possibility. We really liked the Reno area, and we had a foothold there - a guest room in his dad and stepmom’s house - that would help us transition. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: it would be almost exactly what my parents did, nearly 30 years ago, when they left Norway and moved to Southern California. Before Skype, before cell phones, before all of it. If they could do it, why couldn’t we? And they did it with two kids under the age of five.
For crying out loud, we told ourselves, people do this every day. We would be living the age-old immigrant story of uprooting in the hope of a better future for us and for our family. What this country was founded on. The more I thought about it, the more I remembered just how many of our friends had come to the same conclusion in the last ten years. We’ve been having going-away get-togethers for years, with friends moving to Portland, Denver, Seattle, Nashville, Dallas, New York...
And so, after some very long conversations about options and finances and goals and dreams, we looked into each others’ eyes and realized that yes, it was possible, and yes, we had to at least try. If we jumped and failed, at least we had given that life a chance.
The initial conversation involved lots of tears and tissues and reassuring hugs, but we came out the other side feeling closer and more in love than ever before. There was no one else I could imagine trusting enough to do this with. It would really be us against the world, and we might fail miserably, but we had to try to take control of our own lives.
And you know what? The next day, I felt better than I had in at least six months. Lighter, happier, reassured. Finally, finally, I might be able to have the life I’d always wanted. With exactly the kind of man I need. A simple life raising a family together. It just required doing the scariest and craziest thing I could possibly think of. But plenty of our friends had done the same thing and succeeded, right? And in the end, something had to change. I just had to hitch up my big girl panties, take his hand and jump.