I can’t even begin to scrape the surface of all of the details of this decision and what has happened these past few months (quite frankly, much of it isn’t appropriate for this venue), but I have to say something even if it isn’t all of it. If I don’t, I fear this little blog of mine will continue to go on neglected because I feel I’m not being “real” enough.
Hindsight is 20/20 or so they say. When I look back on it now, I can sort of pinpoint when it all started and when it started is actually much, much earlier than when it all started.
I first felt it when we were to purchase our home on the East side of Bakersfield. We were not far into the decision. We’d made a few minor downpayments on upgrades and maybe a holding fee or two and something desperate cried out within me to not go through with the decision. I remember two conversations, in tears, pleading not to buy the house because I didn’t want to be “stuck in Bakersfield for the rest of our lives.”
The following Spring, I got my answer. We drove up North to visit my sister and some friends in the Pacific Northwest. Something about that area, our friends, my sister, I don’t know… it all just clicked.
Upon our return I began making list after list of “Top cities I want to live in,” which pretty much always included Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and, because of a handful of fun weekends with Stephen’s sister’s family and their circle of friends, Thousand Oaks. Part of me knew that even putting this list up on my blog (it was featured on the sidebar for a time) was sort of thumbing my nose up at Bakersfield and our friends/families that lived here.
Then the Winter came and Stephen was given a serious opportunity for us to leave Bakersfield and help his sister’s husband grow his company in Thousand Oaks. It seemed like kind of a dream come true.
I think it was slightly naive to think that our handful of “party weekends” over the past five years would be the norm.
As much as I wanted it to, Thousand Oaks never really fit for me. I had a really hard time making new friends outside of the small circle of people I already knew that led really busy lives.
We thought we found a church. Then thought it wasn’t “it.” Then thought it was “it” again. But we never really could get very well connected there. Our attendance was hit and miss because of having (nearly constantly sick) little kids.
I don’t think I’ve ever really mentioned this to anyone except Stephen before, but when I drove my Accord from Bakersfield to Thousand Oaks on our official moving day with Jillian in the back three years ago, I cried almost the whole way.
Sometime after getting in such a frenzy about all these other cities I wanted to live in, I learned to accept that Bakersfield was where I was. I started to learn to love it and all the quirkiness that it is. There were the obvious things that were not my favorite, but most of the people I knew felt similarly and even joked about these “negative” Bakersfield things.
A few months before we left I had started to really try to love it and think positively about it. I joined a neighborhood playdate group, I started attending a mom group, I reconnected with friends from high school that were in similar life situations as me, I joined a homeschooling social group because many of the members supposedly were “crunchy” like me.
I threw myself all in. No wonder I cried when it came time to rip myself away.
And the past three years I have watched (with admitted slight envy) as those friends get together with seemingly regularity for playdates, Bunco, book clubs, craft nights, girls nights out to watch movies, gone on dates effortlessly with friends and family available to watch little ones, etc. I’ve also watched friends I never thought would begin to think in the least like me, making changes in the way they view our food system, the environment, etc.
When the church that we mostly went to over the past three years announced their latest plant this summer, we were actually there to hear it that Sunday and the stirring and restlessness was awakened once again. I think that was when we first voiced to each other that Thousand Oaks had never really fit. We couldn’t quite describe or picture the future, but we knew Thousand Oaks wasn’t in it long term. We just knew. We discussed the possibility of us being involved in a future church plant and our futures outside of church. At the time, all of this changed seemed quite far off, but we had a glimpse of it. After that conversation we felt so close to each other and so very much on the same page of life in an almost gives you the creeps sort of way.
Starting the week after that discussion, it felt so much like our world started getting rocked. Some of it was good and some not good at all (like at least one person in our little immediate family being sick almost the whole fall and winter). I constantly felt like I was being sucked down into quicksand or out in the open during a snowball fight. It has continued to be like that.
I’ve questioned my faith. Nearly become a skeptic again on more than one occasion. I’ve questioned many of my beliefs about the way the world should work pitted against the way the world actually works.
In November, the restlessness was again at the forefront of Stephen’s attention. And it was confirmed after a reconnect with some of our oldest friends. Friends that we’ve collaborated with creatively, have spent many long hours on band road trips and crammed hotel rooms with, that kept us accountable while we were dating, talked us through a brief break up, stood with us on our wedding day, let me stay with them when Stephen was working 80 hour weeks out of town and I was too afraid to stay in our apartment by myself, friends that are easy to pick back up where we left off with no matter how much time has passed.
And so in February he left the family business. It was time to move on. Heart wrenching about sums that decision up.
Suddenly a whole world of freedom was opened to us. So many possibilities were discussed from our love of the Pacific North West and whether the timing was right for a move there to Orange County where we’d be closer to some of my family and some of our friends.
We seriously explored the OC, looked at properties, tried out stores we typically shopped at, drove the freeways, played at parks, tried to picture ourselves there. It just didn’t click for me. Everything felt so
large and busy. Being down there was overwhelming for me.
During this period one of my friends reminded me that you can find positive things about any place you choose to live. I knew I could make the OC work if that was where we’d end up.
And then an opportunity presented itself in Bakersfield. Gut reaction was, “No way!” and “I can’t believe this is seriously even on the table!”
We mulled it over a bit. We made out a pros and cons list and were surprised at all the pros and that there really were more of them than the cons. I still wrestled with this idea. I cried about it. I bristled. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
Here are just some of the pros:
-a shorter, less time consuming commute for Stephen (less than 15 minutes!)
-a job in tech & healthcare where he’s got most of his experience and background
-we will get to live in a house with a backyard
-closer to a majority of our family
-lots of great friends that have known us for a long time
-don’t have to deal with lots of freeway traffic and “LA drivers”
-the pace of life is a little more relaxed
-lots of young families like ours
-cost of living is much more affordable
-it’s an easy, safe “home base” for us for at least the next few years
So, as one of our friends commented, “The gravitational pull from the black
hole that is Bakersfield sucked you back in.” Yep, it sure did. Now how does one go about getting themselves invited to one of those play dates around here?