This Wednesday marks a week to the day that my wife and I closed on our new house.
While real estate transactions probably occur to thousands of homebuyers everyday across the nation, for us this was the final piece of a puzzle, which started back in January of 2014.
It was during that time when my wife and I debated and deliberated where we wanted to spend our future. Would we stay in the comfort and security of a state we called home for almost 40 years, or would we take a chance and restart our lives elsewhere?
It’s not an easily answered question – the results of which would greatly impact every facet of our lives, personally and professionally. But it’s a question definitely worth asking.
Life is not infinite. We as a society are naïve to believe that we’ll have enough time in the future to make a change or take a chance. But the reality is, no one knows what the future holds for us. Shying away from something life-changing out of fear or inconvenience means you might just be missing out on something wonderful.
After many discussions – weighing both the pros and cons – we agreed to move from New Jersey to Colorado by the end of June to be closer to family and a life filled with new opportunities.
The six months prior to our move were chaotic, stressful, exciting and overwhelmingly filled with heartbreak. A fitting sentiment comes from A.A. Milne: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
During that six month span of time, we both gave notice to our employers, organized and inventoried our belongings, contacted countless moving and other vendors and eventually put our house up for sale – packing away over a decade of cherished memories into card board boxes.
Time moved very quickly and before we knew it we were saying our tearful goodbyes to those who had come to mean so much to us over the years. I still can remember walking through our empty house, which we loved greatly, filled with tears as we meandered through one room after another with an endless stream of memories filling our hearts and minds. The culmination of that six-month time-span left us with a feeling of displacement and uncertainty that has only eased of late.
Our first few weeks in Colorado seemed more like an extended vacation with no responsibilities or worries to speak of. But soon reality reminded us that we were without jobs in a new state, staying with family and living out of storage tubs stacked high in a closet.
While my wife was fortunate to find work right away as a teacher, it took me three months to find a suitable position. It was a difficult time for us – grieving for the independent and security we no longer had, not to mention missing the house we called home for the last twelve years and the people who frequented it.
But life has a funny way of working itself out. Within a two week span of time, I accepted a wonderful position, found a great house and had the offer accepted in our favor. After months of struggling to adjust to our new surroundings, and even questioning our decision to relocate, the final piece of the puzzle had finally been found and the transition it seemed was complete.
If my journey above illustrates anything it’s that sometimes you have to take a chance, big or small, in order to bring your life to a better place. I’m not going to lie – it was tough for a while. Adjusting emotionally and physically to a new environment where nothing is familiar is both challenging and in many ways saddening. To essentially abandon everything that was “normal” in your life is like losing a piece of yourself. In a way I think many of us define ourselves by the places we live and work and carry out the mundane tasks that come along with living day to day.
But if I’ve learned anything in life it’s this – everything new just needs a little time to settle in, to become your “new normal”. And I’m living proof that eventually that’s exactly what happens.
My wife and I have continually been asked if Colorado feels like “home” yet and our response has always been, “not really”. And while we now have a physical location to return to at the end of a busy day – a place where we’ve already created some wonderful memories – “home” never really left us. I think we just got a little lost along the way – forgetting that home is not just a place, but a feeling.
Sarah Dessen writes in her book What Happened to Goodbye that, “Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
I guess you could say that our journey really isn’t over, but just beginning. I’ll admit that it’s still a little scary for me at times, but overwhelmingly I’m glad we took the chance – the benefits are certainly outweighing the risk.