“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney
Photos by Shannon Duggan Photography
Six months ago on a cold January day in St. Louis, we woke up and finished packing up the car to embark on what would be seemingly the most invigorating chapter of our story yet. We were moving to California. We were leaving behind our family, our best friends, our community and so many things that we loved for the unknown. Some may call us crazy. Some don’t understand why. For us, it just seemed to fit. As the pages turned, some days much slower than others, one thing after another seemed to fall right into place. For a bit more background, you can read more about when we found out we would be moving HERE. Still to this day, I tell Tim I don’t quite know how we ended up exactly where we did, how we got the great jobs we did. And his answer, “Everything happens for a reason.” He’s right. God has played such a big role in our story (well, he’s writing it, but you know what I mean), and every piece of this just seemed to fit. Was it hard to leave our family and best friends? Harder than I can even explain. I felt more emotions on the day that we left St. Louis as we were driving away from our house, the first home that we bought together, than I even expected to have. Since we had so much time to prepare leading up to moving day, I thought that I had gotten all of my emotions out at that point, but I hadn’t. Missouri was home to us our entire lives. We always had dreams of going elsewhere, despite how much we loved the city we lived in and especially the people in it, but to experience what else this world holds. Timing just never seemed quite right to make that bold move, but I have quickly learned that I don’t think there ever truly is a ‘right’ time for much of anything, and that’s ok.
Once we got to California (you can read more from the start of our journey HERE), we of course went through that typical honeymoon phase for the first couple of months. Everything was new. We had so much to explore. So many things to see and do. But after the newness wore off, I came to realize just how hard being away from everyone, and everything, back home really was. We were so comfortable. I think that there are pros and cons to comfort. After those first couple of months here, I started to really long for that sense of comfort. A coffee date on a Saturday morning with a girlfriend, a Saturday shopping day with my mom, family dinner, weekly yoga dates with one of my best friends, inviting friends over for dinner in our home. Where were those things? Where were those people? Where was the sense of community here that I so longed for and loved? I’ll admit, after all of the new wore off and after a couple of months of being so seemingly busy with settling into my new job, I started to feel a little bit lost again. I wondered why we were here again. What brought us here? What are we doing? Everyone’s back home watching the Cardinals play at Busch Stadium, watching the Blues in the playoffs on the big screen at Ballpark Village, my family’s together for small gatherings with our new nephew, our friends were celebrating birthdays and baby showers and bridal showers together in the city. That made me sad. Really sad.
Being away from all those comfortable things truly forces you to step out, to find your own new sense of community, to make new friends. We’ve had to figure out what our new local favorites were, a new grocery store to shop at, a new church community that loves people and loves community as much as we do. That was tough. But then friends and family were starting to book flights and come to visit, and as we’ve been able to share with them the things that we’ve already come to know and love as new ‘locals’ of SoCal, I’ve realized that I do like it here. I catch myself talking less about the things that I don’t like, comparing less to the Midwest. Dare I say, dang you California for making me fall in love with you a little bit more each day. I think I’m afraid to fall in love with it here. I’m afraid that we won’t someday go back to what is home. I can sit here and say that in two years we’ll be here or there, but in all honesty, I have absolutely no idea where we’ll be. I never thought that we would be living in Southern California, less than 10 miles from beaches and the Pacific Ocean or that I would be working in a top 10 higher education institution as an associate director doing things that I love today. And somehow, that’s exactly where we are. And I love it. Yes, I still dream every single day. I can’t help the fact that I’m a dreamer, a goal-setter, a planner, and I can’t help the fact that there are so many things that I want to do and that there are so many places that I want to be. I envision us doing some big things. Some really big things. But for today, somehow after six months of trying to figure this whole thing out, I’m starting to realize that I really do believe that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be today.
My mom, who is less than fond of the fact that we live so far away (and I don’t blame her, and I promise not to live this far away from home forever. I love my mom so much!), even reminded me on the phone one day, after complaining per usual about how much I love [sense sarcasm] the traffic out here, that I live in Southern California. I live in a beautiful place with beaches all around. I live where everyone seems to want to be. Pros and cons. Always pros and cons. If you know me, you know well that I strive to be living in a big city, in the middle of it all; that’s really where my heart is. Chicago. New York City. I’ve dreamt of these things since I was a little girl. Out here, aside from being just a few miles outside of LA, it’s more commercialized and more suburban than I ever would have expected. And one thing that we want so badly to have in a place that we live is a place that we can walk everywhere and a place with a wealth of public transit options. Also not options most places around here. But, for today, that’s ok. We’re getting used to what is the new normal for us. It may not be what we expected, but it’s still an adventure unlike any other in so many ways. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this chapter thus far, it’s that stepping out of your comfort zone is so so good for you. It may not always be easy, but it’s one of the best things that you can do for yourself.
We’re growing in so many ways out here, and it’s only been six months. We’re hiking, we’re exploring, we’re going to the beaches, taking up things like biking and surfing that you just can’t quite do in Missouri. We’re finally starting to find the community we’ve so longed for, we’re discovering our favorite local restaurants and coffee shops. We’re taking advantage of it all. And I think we’re discovering more about ourselves than we even realized. We continue to grow as individuals and in our marriage as we discover more and more what it is we truly envision our lives to be. I’m not sure what the plan for the next six months, the next year, the next five years holds. For today, we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. It may have taken all of the last six months for me to realize it, but we live in Southern California. And I like it.
“I met a girl who kept tattoos for homes that she had loved. If I were her I’d paint my body until all my skin was gone.” -Andrew McMahon, Something Corporate