It was December 2016 when I turned to my husband and said: “Maybe we should move back to California.”
In June 2007, my family moved from California to North Carolina. There I finished high school and college and began my career and a family of my own. In 2010, my then boyfriend, now husband (of seven years!) made the ultimate gesture of sacrifice when he too moved from California to North Carolina so that we could be together.
Together, we established roots in Greensboro, NC, growing and learning and turning into better versions of ourselves. I loved my life in NC, and never considered that one day I would want to leave it. But, the saying is true: having a baby changes everything. In August 2016, we welcomed our son into our world, and he very quickly became the center of it. What would be best for him and for us as a family became our number one priority. Suddenly, our life in Greensboro didn’t fit us quite as well anymore.
We had always entertained moving to another NC city (Wilmington was our number one choice, as we love the beach), and this became a very hot topic. Maybe if we moved, we’d find a better fit, a place that we could call our forever home. Though for years moving to the NC coast was a pipedream for us, I suddenly despised the thought. I just knew raising my child there was not the right thing. So where should we go?? The itch to move and make a change was persistent, but not overwhelming. It was a slow burn, as though there was still much to do and learn in Greensboro before being transplanted.
From 2016 through 2021, we indeed continued to grow. My husband attained his Master’s degree and we both started careers that we were proud to work. My son got to run free in wide-open spaces while being cared for daily by his beloved Grams before venturing into the world of daycare where he made friends and learned to hold a conversation and eat with a fork. As a family, we enjoyed walks under the huge trees, the four seasons, and spending time with great friends and family.
Life was so, so good. And yet, it felt temporary. Each fall I would watch the leaves change, both dazzled and surprised by the sight: Oh, I’m still here; I get to see another NC fall.
The thing about a big dream is that you don’t always know or see the goal clearly, even as you move toward it. For me, this whole Move to California thing was more of a feeling than a well-devised plan. I felt called to move into this, even when it was very, very hard and even as I often didn’t actually want to do it. Suggesting to my husband that we move back to California was one of the most nerve-wracking sentences I’ve uttered to him. Though the thought of such enormous change terrified me, I couldn’t not say it. This was something that had to be laid out and explored.
Four years is a long time to contemplate making a big change. Through this time I ran the gamut of emotions: I want to! I don’t want to! Forget it, this isn’t happening, ever! I love NC too much, I don’t want to go! I’m only considering this for my husband’s sake, I myself don’t actually want to do this. I hope this doesn’t pan out. Ugh, I am tired of waiting! Are we or are we not moving?! We have to move before our son starts school; if we haven’t by then, then we will not move! Okay, I actually do want this to pan out. I’m so bored of NC, my job, this dead-end life. I’m not having any fun here, I don’t feel fulfilled. I feel like I’ve reached my capacity of happiness here.
I feel like I’ve reached my capacity of happiness. And there it was: the reason to push through all the negativity and struggle, the ickiness of sitting in the wait, and to just keep trying, keep pushing forward.
In 2020, the idea of a plant as a metaphor became increasingly stronger for me; it was all I could think about. My level of happiness in my daily life felt like a plant that was doing okay, but could be doing a whole lot better – flourishing, even – if it were transplanted to a different, bigger pot. Everything suddenly felt too tight, and I felt like I was being held back. Daily life was lackluster at best, even as I tried to enjoy the day to the fullest. It was in these feelings that I found traction and inspiration to lean into this big move to California, to embrace this big change, and to apply for a new job.
When it came to us getting a job in CA, I figured that God would either open or close this door for us. For a long time, there wasn’t even a proverbial job-door to knock on, let alone walk through. But January 2021 found me beyond ready to commit to moving, and that’s when a perfect-for-me job popped up randomly. Simultaneously, my husband had his own opportunity presented to him. For several months, we did round after round of interviews. Though we had contemplated moving to California for literal years, the actual process happened instantaneously.
On March 3, 2021, my husband received a job offer. On March 4, I received mine. On March 14, we moved to California.
Those last ten days in NC were calamitous. Goodbye hugs are officially the worst hugs a person can receive. Saying goodbye to my parents and grandmother was beyond excruciating. Leaving a state that I had called home for 14 years was strange and sad.
But as with this entire experience, I knew that moving through the hardship was necessary. I wanted to move through it, to get to the other side and find out why I was so called in 2016 to verbalize a crazy idea and put this five-year plan into motion.
The reason, it turns out, is this: since living here, I have felt my soul wake up. Though it has only been three months, it feels like I have lived here for three years. The transition was seamless; of all the times I have moved, this was the first experienced without an existential crisis. Hallelujah!
I also quickly discovered that moving here was not moving into a “different, bigger pot”, but rather an entirely new forest. God took my little North Carolina potted plant and placed it in the California forest. Here, the room for me to grow into myself is vast; this is where I belong right now. My husband and son are flourishing, too. We are grateful; our happiness soars.
As the plane descended into California, I was overcome with the surprising sense of I always knew I’d be back.