A Year Ago

A year ago I was crying for the first time in as long as I could remember. The goodbyes I’d thought would be so clinical were proving to be far more difficult than I could have ever imagined.

Panic and regret began to sink in. What had we done? How could something that felt so right just months, days and hours before, feel so wrong. 

Everything about it felt so wrong.

The goodbyes were supposed to be easy. The final lists of “lasts” we checked off before we loaded up the truck were supposed to be easy. Finding a buyer for the home we carefully restored was supposed to be easy. But they weren’t.

Every one of them felt wrong.

So as I closed the front door behind the last friends leaving on our last night in Salt Lake City, I cried. 

The decision to leave the only life we’d ever known as adults was not one we’d made in haste. The conversations about a move to the bay area started around 4 years ago. Through the years, scenario planning took many different shapes and timing was a moving target. But, as life progressed it became clearer and clearer to me that we should be here. That we needed to be here.

Some of the reasons were professional. Some of the reasons were personal. Some of the reasons were rational. But most of the reasons were feelings rather than facts. I just couldn’t shake them. We needed to be here and all of the sacrifices required to do so were the price to pay for figuring out why.

I’d like to say that once we pulled across that California state line the weight lifted, but it didn’t. As we climbed Donner Pass that sinking feeling we didn’t think could sink any lower, sunk. As we pulled onto 6 lanes of highway, we were still asking if we were “6 lane highway” kind of people or whether we’d just gotten in way over our heads.

The answer then and the answer today is that we were absolutely in over our heads. The last 12 months have been the hardest 12 months of any I can remember. The violent change that comes with uprooting a family of our scale is tremendous. 

A year ago, I dropped my daughter off for her first day at a middle school she had never seen and where she knew no one. I did the same for two of my kids at elementary school. A year ago we unloaded a truck full of everything we owned. My wife, 9 months pregnant, helped unpack. A year ago we spent the first night in our new home and everything about it felt wrong.

But I think that’s what getting in over your head is supposed to feel like. It feels so wrong because you’re the wrong person do what your gut told you was so right.

And that’s the point.

You need to be a different version of you. A version 2.0 of you. The version of you your gut tells you you’re capable of being. Problem is you can’t transform to the latter without violent changes to the former. And that’s why it feels so wrong. Because who you are is not who you need to be and that transformation will make everything about your current self feel wrong.

A year later, I still get asked how it’s been moving to California. I generally keep the answers pretty sterilized. I talk about the cultural differences or the schools or the commute or work. When others ask advice on whether they should move I have to pause. Because that’s a far more personal question than I should be answering for anyone.

Even though the tears have stopped and that sinking feeling has subsided (most days), I have to admit I’m still in over my head. But what the last year has taught me is that over my head is exactly where I should be.