You Can Go Home Again

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The thing about blogging is that, when you write at all about your life, you have to decide what, and how much, to share – because it’s impossible to write about your entire life (and even if it was possible, I for one wouldn’t want to).  It’s a delicate balance that – if done wrong – can result in the blog coming across as either whiny (if the blogger errs on the side of sharing all the warts of life) or too perfectly curated (if the blogger is on the more private end of the spectrum).  I personally don’t like reading crabby blog posts, so I tend to err on the keeping it positive side.  Mostly, that’s been good – it’s encouraged me to look for the best in every situation.  But it has resulted in me keeping quiet about a Very Big Life Thing for awhile now.

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Three years ago, we packed up our northern Virginia lives and moved seven hours, and several states, north to Buffalo, New York.  The main reason for our move was that Steve had a wonderful professional opportunity – one of those “crazy to turn it down” chances.  Even knowing that it was a golden opportunity for his career, we agonized over the decision.  We’d lived in the DC area for a decade and we had long considered northern Virginia our real home.  It was the place we’d planned to plant roots and raise our family; the idea of leaving was almost impossible to imagine.  We wrote pro/con lists, debated endlessly, and ultimately decided that the professional opportunity for Steve was simply too good, and we had to go.  We sold our beautiful house in Mount Vernon, packed our belongings and headed north on a new adventure.  And even though I firmly believed that we were making the right decision – I still believe that – my heart broke the day I turned my car north and left Virginia, and it’s never quite mended.

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We settled into Buffalo and set about making it our new home.  We found places to hike, fun family activities, and new favorite cafes.  We spent time with our families – both of which were geographically closer as a result of the move.  We bought a house and planned to stay there for a long time.  Most importantly, we welcomed a new family member when Nugget was born.

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But no matter how hard we tried – and we tried really hard – my heart still longed to be at home.  I reached my tipping point in January of 2015, after an awful day at work – all of my homesickness and sadness bubbled to the surface and I tearfully told Steve, over pizzas at Elm Street Bakery, that I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I wanted to go home.

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We tabled the conversation for awhile, because we were just about two months away from welcoming Nugget to the world, we still weren’t unpacked in our new house, and it was all just too overwhelming.  I pushed my homesickness down – again – and decided to see if I could wait it out.  Nugget was born and we had a magical summer at home together, soaking up sun and exploring the best that WNY has to offer (which is a lot – don’t get me wrong; Buffalo is a great town and we like it here).  We made a trip to D.C. on our way to the Outer Banks for a summer vacation with my side of the family and tortured ourselves with visits to friends and places that we had missed so much that even seeing them again was painful.  I cried as we pulled out of Alexandria and headed north – again.  And at the end of the summer, I told Steve – nope, it’s just not working.

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The more we talked about it, the more we felt we needed a change. I won’t speak for Steve, other than to say that he was feeling as homesick for northern Virginia as I was. We spent the fall debating options.  Moving back to the D.C. area was our first choice, but it wasn’t the only possibility we considered.  We briefly explored a West Coast move after I was contacted out of the blue with a possible professional opportunity in Seattle.  (That was never really an option – just a pipe dream we kicked around for about thirty seconds.)  More seriously, we talked about Denver.  We liked the idea of living near my brother and sister-in-law, and we thought Denver might hold some interesting professional opportunities.  We made a trip out there, mostly to spend Thanksgiving with Dan and Danielle, but also to scout the city for a possible move.  I met with an attorney while we were out there, and we checked out neighborhoods in case we ended up there.  When we got back from our Thanksgiving trip, we started sending resumes both south to D.C. and west to Denver, and we agreed that wherever the first job offer came from, that would be our move.

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I started to get bites almost immediately, and between January and March I made four trips to D.C. for job interviews.  Meanwhile, we took our first step toward a move, putting our house on the market (which we would have done anyway; it wasn’t a good fit for us), selling it quickly and moving into a townhouse on a six month lease while we figured out the next step.  By Memorial Day, I had a fairly good idea that a lead I had was going to work out, and I was cautiously optimistic that a move home was in the near future.  Still, I was shocked when I got a call (on June 1st, only a day or so after we got back from our cross-state trip) from another firm – not the one I was expecting – telling me that I could expect an offer package within the next few days.  I was incredibly surprised, because I’d thought my interviews there had gone well, but it had been almost a month since I’d last heard from them and I’d moved on to what I considered a more promising lead (a small boutique firm where a good friend of mine worked).  I now had to wrap my mind around the concept that I’d be going to work for a firm that was on my short list of dream firms, in a job that I had barely imagined I would actually get when I first tossed off a resume and cover letter over the winter.

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I made one final quick trip down to D.C. and found us housing, but even as we checked items off our pre-move to do list, I was reluctant to share the secret that we’d soon be moving home – because it was a dream come true, and I was afraid it would all turn out to be just a dream.  We landed a fabulous rental that is near all of our old favorite places, I accepted the offer package and cleared conflicts and reference check, and we lined up movers and told our current employers we were headed home – and yet, it didn’t seem real.  To be honest, it still doesn’t.

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For three years, I’ve yearned for northern Virginia.  I’ve watched from afar as friends have welcomed new babies to their families – babies I should have been there to rock and hold from their earliest days in the world.  I read the Parish Life from our old church every week without fail and followed the search for a new pastor.  I decorated our home with art pieces from the Torpedo Factory and festooned our Christmas tree with reminders of Mount Vernon.  I longed for our beautiful house, our overgrown green backyard, and our quiet street with friendly faces waving from all of the front porches and stoops as I made my way home from a run.  I’ve enjoyed my time in Buffalo, and I will always have a place set aside in my heart for this windy town on the shores of the great Lake Erie.  But, as a wise colleague told me when I broke the news of the move, my heart is longing to be at home.  And a week from today, we will be driving south to start the rest of our lives in the town where we belong – the home our hearts never left.

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13 thoughts on “You Can Go Home Again

  1. I’ve been waiting to reading this and you didn’t disappoint. Absolutely gorgeous and heartfelt. I’m so happy you’re going back to where your heart wants to be. It will be weird traipsing around Alexandria with you when I visit (as I’ve only known you in Buffalo), but I’m also very much looking forward to it.

    • Thank you, my very dear friend. Getting to know you has been the best part of living in Buffalo for me, and I’m so sad that we won’t be geographically close anymore. But I know we will still see each other! I can’t wait to traipse around Alexandria with you, either. Am already wondering what we should do when you’re in town this fall…

    • Hooray indeed! I’ll send you my new address! 🙂

      It’s been a long time in the making, as you know. I’m counting down the minutes!

  2. I am so excited that this has all worked out for your! I’m also excited to hear you talk about a place as home that isn’t the same as your childhood home. As I’m considering my own crosscountry move, I’m afraid of losing roots and having to grow new ones, but I know it can be done. Congrats on everything!

    • Thank you! I’m excited to be going home. At some point I will probably write about identifying as being “at home” in a place where I didn’t grow up – people always express amazement at that. In the meantime, I can’t wait to be back among my favorite people and places again! Just a few days to go…

  3. I had tears in my eyes the entire time I was reading this. How wonderful it is to discover where your true home and happy place is! I’m very excited for you and your family! I love the Alexandria/DC area and miss that Zan and Paul don’t live there anymore. Both because they were closer and because it always had such an appeal to us overall. (I’m craving brunch at Jaleo and pubs in Old Town!) Zan told me that you guys will be in Va Beach in late August…I would love to see you if you have time!

    • Thank you, my dear! It was great seeing you in VA Beach a couple of weeks ago! And yes, it is so key to know where your real home is. I wish that Zan and Paul lived in the DC area again too, although I know that they are happy in Buffalo! But we will be back in your neck of the woods at least one or two more times before our friends there move to Florida, and so I’m sure we will see each other for more playdates!

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