When we started this blog, my husband and I asserted that our plan was to move to Colorado when the kids are all finished in high school. We came to that decision based on a number of factors; my desire for a long growing season for my garden, Tim’s inability to handle temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and, most importantly, my deep longing to be surrounded by nature, to be close enough to engage every day, to connect with the wildness that animates me.
We settled on Colorado because of its proximity to two important elements; the majesty of the mountains and large, reputable universities. Both of us want to continue our educations (he’d like to finish his Master’s in Economics, I have long nursed hopes someday for a JD) and I know from previous experience that there are social benefits to living in a town where most of the population has a Master’s degree.
The suburban personality does not encourage intellectual discussions. When the most animated discussion taking place at the coffee shop is the name of the person Mitsy hired to decorate her house for Christmas, you start looking for an escape from Stepford.
Another reason Colorado made the top of the list was because it gets a huge amount of sunshine every year (for my mental health) without getting overly hot (for his mental health). Plus, it gets a lot of snow, which we both love, and would give us a chance to ski (downhill for him, cross-country for me). We hoped to volunteer in the national park and spend huge amounts of time up in the mountains.
A job opportunity arose for my husband in Portland, Oregon. When he told me about it, I impulsively said “Oh, you HAVE to at least look into that one!” I love Portland. I’ve been there, got to know the city a little bit, and felt very comfortable there. Enchanted, really, by the quirkiness and individuality and naturalness the city is so proud of. How very different from the stultifying suburban conformity in which I live now. It’s very woodsy, like the city is nestled into an enormous forest, a big change from my flat, depressing concrete life. It’s a city I could easily see myself living in, I thought at the time, except for all the rain it gets. Gotta have more sun.
Well, of course, because this is how life works, my husband got the job. He went out for an interview, did the fastest Portland highlights tour ever, and came away with the same perception that I had: it’s a city with personality, a lot of character, a sense of community and humor, a place where we can see our misfit selves being stimulated and comfortable.
I won’t say I’m not disappointed about losing Colorado. I wanted to see what we could be like living in the mountains. But there are mountains in Portland too, and a great lush forest, and the ocean is incredibly close by. We can ski. There are good universities nearby though I’ll have to choose between being a Viking, a Beaver, or a Duck.
But my overriding feeling is excitement. I know what we’re doing now, no more dithering. No more opportunity for my indecisiveness to interfere. Now that he’s formally accepted the offer for this permanent position, the gears are in motion. He will start working in Portland in a month, return to Chicagoland for a long weekend monthly, and in a year, once our youngest is settled into his university, I will move out to Portland with him. At that point, our time in the Midwest will finally, blessedly come to an end, and we can begin our lives beyond parenthood.
There is so much that has to happen between now and next September, I can’t even contemplate all of it. First, next week, we have to get our daughter off to school. That is an enormous hurdle that I feel very prepared for right now, but I know it’s going to kick my ass. My husband moves across the country three weeks later. Three weeks.
It’s been a year of change. The entire year has been a series of doors closing, painful lessons pushing my husband and me closer together. Perhaps because we have lost so much, we have cleared the way for gaining something wonderful that we didn’t even know was a possibility.
It will be a lot of work. But I *want* this. I really am ready.