About 15 years ago, the hubbs and I were working corporate jobs in Houston, Texas. Our life was fun but our jobs were fast paced and often stressful. On a whim, I signed up for a three-day class that took me out of my office cube and into an interactive workshop. This seminar required participants, through a series of interviews, questionnaires and homework assignments, to create their own mission statement. Most attendees were nearing the end of their careers and beginning to think about what was next; I was the youngest by easily a dozen years.
The last day, each of us stood before the class and presented their personal manifesto. Perusing mine, not one item on it had anything remotely to do with work.
1. I want to live in 4 seasons
2. I want an older house with a screen door
3. I want the boys to be close to their families
4. I want to have a dog again (Houston is hot and humid most of the time, and not a desirable outdoor clime for anything sporting fur).
At the end of the class, I tucked my list into my Franklin Planner, went back to work and proceeded to forget all about it
Flash forward a few years … Hubbs and I found ourselves outgrowing our cute little brick home. We realized we could afford a bigger house so off we went, gallivanting through open houses and poring over floor plans. All of the homes we looked at were big and glorious and about 2 feet from each other. Hubbs could sense my frustration and one night, sitting out under that big Texas sky, he asked me what was up. “All the houses are beautiful and you don’t like any of them. Why?” I looked at him with total clarity and said, “I want to live in the 4 seasons again, with a screen door and a dog and have us be near family.” He quietly commented that “we could do that in Michigan but that’s not possible.” And I said,“why not?”
And once we entertained the “why nots” it was like someone had given us the key to the kingdom. We could feel the possibilities again.
His mother was ailing, his Step-Dad was overwhelmed trying to care for her and our boys, now 12 and 5 were at as good of an age as any to make a move. Our careers were going great but we figured we could get work anywhere. We listed our house, sold it in 30 days, rented an apartment over the phone and gave notice to our companies. They thought we were nuts but I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life. At the last minute, my employer asked if I’d consider working remotely for a year while they went through a merger. Consider? Heck yeah I’d consider it.
It was a sweltering June day 12 years ago that we shoved the last of our belongings into a 24 foot U-Haul. Tears streamed down my face as we left our neighborhood behind; I drove the SUV – as packed with our suitcases and as many snacks as a 5-year-old could hold. Oldest boy, then 13, jammed his 6’2” frame into the truck cab with Dad for a bouncy, squeaky ride cross-country. We had 2-way radios for communication between us. Three days later, we rolled into Grand Rapids on a mild Michigan morning. I’ll never forget that feeling; it was the feeling of coming home.
And now as I look back on that time, I marvel that we pulled it off.
I look at our boys and grin when I realize that they grew up knowing their family, enjoying the seasons, banging a screen door closed … and loving on their dog.
When did you know something for sure?