JP’s dad and brother, Sam, sent us a Friday afternoon “hello” from Mother’s Brewing. They were there, celebrating the week-end, together…because they live in the same town. And they’ve lived within driving distance of each other, and JP’s other brother, Will, for Sam and Will’s entire lives. JP’s grandmother lives in the same town, as does his uncle and uncle’s family. We, on the other hand, haven’t lived in the same town as our families since we graduated from high school…
JP and I, separately and as a couple, have lived all over the world as part of our “pursuit of happy-ness.” We keep moving – changing jobs, cities, houses – to get one step closer to our occupational passion and our “perfect” home. East Coast for a B.A. West Coast for a law degree. Midwest for a few career starters. Then Africa to remind us both why we made every other move until that point…
Back to the Midwest just long enough to recharge the batteries and reset the course. Then to Austin, for better weather, a career-focusing degree for JP, and some time to build a home and a community for me. Austin – 17 hours away from my parents and my sister. 11 hours away from JP’s entire family.
Did we make the right choice?
This weekend, my boss (who is my age and only a few years ahead of me in the legal field) spend the weekend with his entire family watching his youngest brother take State in high school basketball. The other attorney in my office, who is also my age and graduated a year after me from law school and has the same amount of educational debt, just bought a home last month and spent the weekend decorating with his wife and son…and mom and brother.
Moving costs money. It costs a moving truck, gas, storage unit, security deposit on a rental, utility deposits, car registrations, drivers’ licenses. Moving also costs a new salary – starting from the bottom again when you start a new job, and have yet another job on your resume when you apply for jobs in the future. It costs in time to move, get settled, find said home and job and friends and absolutely everything else. And moving costs in visits to family because you haven’t earned enough PTO to make the trip “home” yet or haven’t earned enough spare cash for the plane ticket.
So you miss out on holidays, birthdays, graduations, celebrations…and the occasional hospitalization. At least that is what JP and I haven’t physically been there for in the past 5 years we’ve been together. And we feel it – we feel the absence of the daily family time that we know is happening out there without us.
But again, did we make the right choice? Would we have been happier if we stayed in one of our home towns?
We had this very discussion and realized that, for us, we did make the right choice. We miss our families – we miss them because, when we do come home, we are there with them 100%, physically and emotionally. We aren’t there out of obligation or some arbitrary schedule. For those days, we choose them.
For some people, they choose their families every day, or every Sunday for dinner. And that works for them – that is the time they give and enjoy giving. For JP and me, we want it all. We want the career that gets us out of bed in the morning. The home that supports every aspect of our selves and our lives. The city that wraps us in community, and sunshine, and culture. AND the period of time each year that we put all of the rest of that on the back-burner and devote our hearts and minds 100% to our families.
No, we haven’t been there for every family member’s life events. No, we don’t own our own home, yet. No, we don’t have the fullest bank account, retirement plan, or asset base. But we both want to get up each morning into the life we’ve created for ourselves. JP stayed up late on spring break to teach himself a new design program that isn’t even required for his classes, just because it will help him do better designs in the future. I am constantly checking items off of my “life/bucket list” and have checked off more in the 6 months we’ve been in Austin than the 3 years we were in Des Moines.
Did we make the right choice? That question is based upon the idea that there has to be a choice. But really, there never was a choice at all… Because we have our families, and every other aspect of the full and happy lives we love living.