Two Homes

How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. ~ Winnie the Pooh

Twenty hours is a long time in the car to think about my final two weeks in New Hampshire.

Two weeks was the point where it hit me that I was really going to leave behind the place I’d called home for the past 15 years.

Two weeks of goodbyes, two weeks of sadness mixed with excitement, two weeks until I would finally be going back home to Illinois…the place I consider my true home.

The physical exhaustion of working, packing, and meeting friends for late drinks could not match the mental exhaustion of those last two weeks.

Not having a driver’s license = complete loss of independence. Dependency is mentally exhausting for someone of my strength.

Leaving my boys with their Dad, not knowing when I’ll be back is mentally exhausting.

Trying to explain to everyone the hows and whys and job situation is very mentally exhausting.

The mental anguish associated with trying to make sense of my life right now has me on the verge of collapse…you see in those last two weeks I realized that I have two homes – New Hampshire and Illinois.

A 25 year old kid moved to New Hampshire. She survived a bad marriage, the death of her Dad, the taking of his own life by her best friend and the struggles of being a single Mom with no family to help. Now a 40 year old woman is leaving the place where she found herself…the place that snuck up on her and became her home too.

Now here I sit, just two hours from the place with the most familiar look, smell and feel…the place where I gather the strength I need to move forward, always have and always will.

In just two hours, I will be home. For 15 years the trip west has filled me with joy and the trip east has made me cry. Just two more hours until home and my eyes are filled with tears because I finally figured out in those final two weeks that I have two homes.

In two hours I will be swimming in unchartered waters as I begin my journey to decide which of my two homes will become my forever home!

Only For a Year

Fifteen years ago when I made the decision to move to New Hampshire there were a few reasons:

  • I had ended a two year on again-off again relationship and needed distance.
  • I was being offered a job with a boss for whom I enjoyed working and from whom I still had a lot to learn.
  • I had always dreamed of leaving that “shitty little town” (as I liked to call my hometown) in search of something different.
  • Most importantly though I told myself that I should give it a try because it was “only for a year”.

Head out east, have some fun, gain new life experiences…after all it was “only for a year”.

Dad unloaded my best friend and I into our first apartment in New Hampshire, hugged us both goodbye and his parting words were “make it work because I won’t be back to get your shit for at least a year.”

It was scary, it was lonely, but we could do this…after it was “only for a year”.

Today I was talking to a co-worker who is 25 (the same age as me when I moved to NH). He is currently looking for jobs elsewhere in the U.S. While we were talking about his job search he commented that he “just wants to get out of here”.

All of the sudden, that was me, fifteen years ago…just wanting to get out.

It suddenly hit me that you always need to think of your decision as something long term. Before “just wanting to get out”, think long and hard about what it is that your heart desires most. Because sometimes you seek greener pastures only to find that those you desire most were in your own backyard.

And there is always the possibility that “only for a year” will turn into fifteen of them.

I had to wonder: if I had thought of moving to New Hampshire as a life-long decision versus “only for a year”, would I have made that choice to leave?

If I had known back then that “only for a year” could so easily turn into never being able to get back to the place I love, would I have simply stayed?

If I could’ve really searched my heart to find that being surrounded by family and friends is really the one thing I wanted most, would I have gone looking for greener pastures?

Obviously, I can never answer those questions. What I can do is think about how the “only for a year” mindset can have a powerful effect on any decision. I started to think of it in terms of my current situation…

I am leaving my current life which isn’t exactly a bed of roses right now and moving back home to the place where I so desperately want to be “only for a year”

…but what if it isn’t?

What if “only for a year” once again turns into fifteen?

What if circumstances turn “only for a year” into the rest of my kids’ childhood?

Can I handle this decision if I think of it as a life long proposition versus “only for a year”?

This morning I was certain that I was making the best choice. One conversation that triggered me to think in different terms is causing me to question that choice.

Experience is the best teacher and knowing that “only for a year” can very easily turn into more will hopefully help to ensure that I will indeed return to New Hampshire after a year and enjoy watching my boys grow up. I can only remind myself of this one thing daily: “only for a year” this time really means “only for a year” because I have three boys who love me unconditionally that are only accepting my decision because it’s “only for a year”.

Eventually I will make it home to stay. Eventually my address will match my heart. But this trip folks, well this one really is “only for a year”.