April 27, 2005

the decision

I thought we'd do a fact-finding mission, that it would be clear cut and logical, that we'd know whether to move to New York or to stay put in Los Angeles. Ha. Instead it's gut-level, emotional, and risky as hell.

Yes, we've decided to move. Or rather, as Dan says, the decision has somehow been made for us. We move as if compelled, as if a powerful magnet emanates from the Tristate area and we're nothing more than a handful of iron filings, a scattering of metallic bits, and so we fly, yanked back home. Someone finally turned on the magnet full force, that's all. Will it work out? Is this the right decision (non-decision), will fate or instinct, or, hell, the pseudo-mystical made-up Force be with us or will we look back and say "What were we THINKING???"

Sometimes decisions can be both wise and foolish, positive and negative, difficult and right, tangled and clear. Like buying our current house. Great investment but not the most peaceful place to live. Now we sell that investment and use the equity to cushion our journey east where we'll hope and work toward happiness. Sell a house, buy a life change.

You live your life, you make your choices. It makes logical sense to seek security, to settle down. For us, that means staying put. But if you're miserable in that relative (because nothing's certain) stability? What then?

What matters to me at this point in my life? What matters to Dan? Not one thing, obviously; you can't single out any specific element, point to it and say, "This. This is it and nothing else is important." But some things do matter more than others. And though working toward future (and present) comfort certainly is on that list, it turns out a sense of community, geographical proximity to people we love, that may matter more. The chance for Dan to become someone new, to renew and redefine his career, that too. Me too, I think – not so much career right now but the chance rethink myself, to re-present myself. In truth, we change gradually over time, growing into ourselves (if we're lucky). But often if we stay in the same environment, that change remains invisible to other people and therefore sometimes to ourselves. They and we still define us by who we've been. But if you shift the locale, the milieu, you can seem to become someone new in a moment. It's like when you lose weight. Someone who sees you every single day may not note the half pound there, the pound and a half there, but to someone who sees you once a month or once a year, the transformation will be startlingly obvious.

But that's not it, not the reason for the move, not to change ourselves or become ourselves, only maybe it is a bit. It's more about happiness and where and how you can find it. Can you chase happiness? Is it like the rainbow's end, always shifting away, or is it indeed tangible and concrete? Right now I think the latter. Maybe not happiness per se, because who can have a life without bumps and bruises? But an overall feeling of rightness instead of wrongness, I do think you can know that, find that.

Is this crazy? We sell our house here this summer, become renters there by fall and take a chance that we'll be able to buy again at some unknown point in the future. Dan invests in a new network of potential employers. I find my way – somehow, some as yet undetermined niche – back into the working world because it is indeed time to become a two income family again and especially if – no, when – we move and Dan's work situations become more tenuous for a short or even long while. My share of work may need to be part time or at least involve a goodly amount of telecommuting because I must still be primary caregiver to a child who still very much needs a parent's care. A child, by the way, who very much wants to make this move "So I can see Hannah and Isaiah all the time and visit my grandparents whenever I want." (Hannah and Isaiah are my college roommate's children, and they live within minutes of our town-to-be. The kids got along, you might say.) He seems completely unfazed by this enormous upheaval.

I should trust and emulate his attitude, I think. Instead I'm alternately thrilled and terrified with a goodly dose of stunned, "It's a dream, right? I'll wake up soon and be disappointed that nothing's different, right?" But no, this doesn’t at all feel like a dream. It feels like a surprising left turn, taking us off the map of the known, and maybe if I squint real hard I can make out the vague outline of what lies ahead, but maybe that's just a mirage. I can't be sure, but the only way to know is to move ahead.

So we will. Back to slush in February and the miraculous spread of green in April, back to mosquito-laden summers and a beautiful, majestic, thrilling city and the towns that surround it, inevitably memorizing the commuter train schedule (Damian called it the computer train at first and then simply said it was boring and far too slow). Also inevitably discovering inconveniences and annoyances and drawbacks to our new life (no fresh Fuyu persimmons at the farmer's market in January (no farmer's market in January)) but also embarking on this astonishing adventure, returning home to an environment that feels so right and is both familiar and new. We've never been parents there, never been fully adult there, I've never lived outside the city, I've never been a writer there or driven a car there (not until this trip, that is). Add in career questions and so many other unknowns and wow. Just wow.

Sometimes maybe it's good and right to shake things up, to toss the elements of your life up in the air like so much confetti and then watch it drift back down to earth in a new, unpredictable pattern.

We're going to find out. And soon.


Posted by Tamar at April 27, 2005 09:21 PM | TrackBack

Congratulations on making the decision. I've never been to New York (although I have in-laws in Newark and in Pennsylvania) but it sounds like an exciting move. Scary, but exciting. I hope it all goes smoothly.

Posted by: Kay at April 27, 2005 09:55 PM

I'd wondered if your return home, to the space you've worked so hard to create, would flip you back around, until you cried "how can we leave this?" Sounds like the opposite, for now.

I have great admiration for your courage, and will do what I can to help w. the transition.....

Posted by: Chris at April 27, 2005 10:08 PM

Those are exciting, scary decisions! Good luck with this transition. It keeps life exciting, doesn't it?

And good luck to Dan. I've appreciated his work over the past two years, but I can see where it's time to do something new. I can't wait to see what this adventure holds for you next...

Posted by: Rachel at April 28, 2005 06:54 AM

Welcome back east!
One suggestion-unless you are going to buy soon back east, I'd hold off on selling your house. Rent it out and take an equity loan for your moving expenses, but otherwise let your equity grow in the house you have, because I'm sure you saw that real estate is as insane back east as it is in CA!

Posted by: rose at April 28, 2005 09:12 AM

I was in similar shoes just over a year ago. Back then it seemed like the worst time to move. But we gave up great jobs and a home we loved to live in a place we knew would be home forever. At the time someone said it takes a year to recover from a move. So give it a year and then see how you feel. I think you'll feel great!

Posted by: Annie at April 28, 2005 10:08 AM

Sob. Sobsobsobsobsobsobsobsobsobsobsob.

[Insert image of a tiny, crumpled-up coconut here, in a puddle of coconut milk.]

Sob. Sob. Sob.

Posted by: Tiny Coconut at April 28, 2005 01:02 PM

The first half of my marriage was characterized by relatively frequent moves. But the moves were dictated by my husband's job in the missile industry. One year we moved four times. Although the last move that year was under 100 miles, four weeks later we moved from California to Louisiana. Our longest stay was in Florida for the moon launches, Skylab, and Apollo/Soyuz. We returned to Louisiana in 1976 and have been here ever since.

I learned really early how to find myself a "female community" in each new place. With his schedule any thoughts I might have had about a job were totally impractical with two kids.

You'll no doubt enjoy the move, once you are settled in somewhat. There will be so many new things to learn about and explore. (BTW--I grew up in northern NJ and worked in NYC two summers.)

Posted by: sue at April 28, 2005 04:54 PM

Sob doesn't even touch it, Tiny Coconut.

I'm happy for you, Tamar but so despondant for those of us who will miss having you in person!

Posted by: Michele at April 28, 2005 10:23 PM

There's a flip-side to sobsobsobsob, and that's
Yay! yayyayyayyayyay! I hope that the Coconut and Michele do not infer any callousness on my part. I don't mean the yays that way. But I (and Hannah and Isaiah) sure are thrilled to have our dear friend close to us. It's been a long time. And I, the Californian, have been keeping these NYC-area home fires burning too long alone.
I stand with Chris: we'll help you make the transition. And it will all work out. We don't know how; it just will.

Posted by: Cath at May 4, 2005 07:38 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?