Thursday, May 01, 2014

The End of an Era

With very mixed emotions, I hereby announce that my family and I will be moving back to Utah within the next two months. Even though Melanie and I have been toying with this idea for a while now, it still doesn’t seem completely real to me. It’s hard to fathom that I really won’t be living in Tallahassee anymore, and it’s equally hard to imagine being in Utah and not having a plan to leave within a few weeks’ time. It has been eight years since we lived there, and it has been six years since we moved to Tallahassee. Our kids don’t know anywhere else as home. This is a big deal. It’s also a heartbreaking deal. It’s also an exciting deal. And from a practical standpoint, it’s most likely a necessary deal. But “big” is a simpler description, so I’ll just stick with that. This is a big deal.

You may wonder why we’re doing this. (I’m pretending I have people who read my blog right now. Just play along.) Have I finished my PhD? Did I land some awesome job in Utah? Did my rich, estranged uncle die and leave me his Utah estate in his will? Sadly, the answer to all of these questions is “no.” But there are good reasons for moving on. First of all, Melanie and I can’t sustain our way of life without something changing in the employment category. My stipend doesn’t cut it, and we don’t want to take on more debt. Add to that the fact that Melanie has long been wanting to get back into teaching elementary school. Now, it may seem that if Melanie gets a teaching job, the problem with my insufficient stipend disappears. Well, sort of. In principle, perhaps. But Melanie will have it much easier getting a job in Utah, because that’s where all of her connections are. Plus, that’s where she would like to teach. And where we ultimately think we want to live. (Crazy, I know.) So there is a strong incentive to move to Utah and start that process of securing Melanie in a Utah-based teaching job and getting settled in the area now. Why wait? There isn’t much of a reason to. If we’re not relying on my stipend, I can finish my PhD from anywhere. And if we were to stay here in Tallahassee, we’d have the issue of needing to put Creegan into childcare if Melanie got a job. We’d much rather have him hang out with his grandparents, which is something that can happen in Utah. So, as it turns out, the real question is not, “Why are we going back to Utah?”, but, “Why should we stay in Tallahassee?”

Well, I can think of some damn good reasons to want to stay in Tally. And that’s what breaks my heart about moving away. Trust me, I’ve got mixed feelings both about leaving Tallahassee and about living in Utah. They are two sides of the same coin, but both sides have their own unique pros and cons. There are many reasons that I will mourn our departure from Tallahassee. We love Eddie’s school, and we’d be thrilled to have Peter and eventually Creegan go there. We have made excellent friends, and that circle of friendship has grown a lot lately. We have independence here, which is extremely beneficial from a psychological standpoint. And despite the terrible heat and humidity during much of the year, the weather can be quite pleasant during months when it would be terrible elsewhere. As if to tease us, Tallahassee has been unseasonably cool this spring. It has been crisp, gray, and rainy for the last few weeks—my favorite type of weather. As I type this, looking out my window at lush green trees dripping with the residue of intermittent rain, I can barely tolerate picturing the snowstorms I will be putting up with for several months each year in Utah. I know this is for the best, but man. I can get really depressed about leaving.

I really do have a lot of anxiety about moving back to Utah, and part of me really does fear that I will regret it and feel miserable. I’m hoping that’s not true, though. I’m hoping once I’m there, Utah will slip back over me like a comfortable and familiar (even if imperfect) glove. There are definitely things I look forward to, and I know that on our last two visits, I felt certain that I wanted to return to live in Utah. I really do believe—or at least very adamantly hope—that the pros outweigh the cons. I look forward to much about being there, even as I fear feeling like the last decade or so of my life has been one prolonged U-turn. I do worry about feeling like I never really progressed, or like I’ve failed, or something like that. In some ways, these fears are absurd. When I last lived in Utah, I had one child, a newborn. I didn’t have any graduate degrees. I wasn’t as clear on what I wanted to do with my life as I am now. I have learned a lot about myself since I left, so it’s silly to view this as going back to square one. That makes no sense at all, rationally speaking, and yet those are the kinds of feelings I’ve had. I guess that’s to be expected. Big life changes are kind of like the hands that shake up our psychological snow globes and get our thoughts and feelings swirling all higgledy-piggledy.

See, even writing this has helped me feel a little better. I have good friends in Utah that I will be excited to see. Family. More cultural/intellectual events to partake of. A helluva lot more good food. I think I can be okay.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

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