I haven’t felt settled since 2008. Seeing as it’s now 2014, that’s a really long time to feel constantly in flux, wishing you had some stability in your life. Something you can settle into. In 2008 I had been living in Seattle for five years. I had friends, I had a job, I loved my adopted city, I had met this amazing guy who would one day become my husband, and I pictured a life as a Washingtonian forever and ever.
Clearly life had other ideas for me seeing as in December of 2008 I was laid off, and by April of 2009 I was packing my things and moving with Adam and hour south of Seattle to Olympia, WA where I would soon buy a house and get a dog and at 24 begin playing house way before I was ready. Adam and I found a rhythm in Olympia eventually, but we never really felt settled. We knew Olympia wasn’t permanent for Adam’s job, I knew my job wasn’t forever, and living only an hour south of Seattle meant I felt as if I lived in the shadow of my old life. It was close enough for me to visit, but far enough away to make me feel like I was being left out. By about year two in Olympia I had just started to feel like I had a life, a community, good friends and solid relationships, and then we moved to Alaska.
Once again there were good-byes and an acceptance of a wild weird world I had never even contemplated. We adjusted, explored, all the while knowing that Alaska was not forever either. We told ourselves the longest we’d be in Alaska was five years, but right on our two year anniversary in Alaska, Adam came home with news. There was a job in Chicago.
May of 2014 marked the end of our first year in Chicagoland, marking this as the third time we’ve packed our bags and started over. If the cycle was going to continue as it has all these years before, I’d have exactly nine months before I’d have to do it all over again. My brain has become used to this rotating feeling of rinse, lather, repeat. I find that I’ve gotten used to thinking that nothing is permanent, used to feeling that I can’t hold onto anything, that I can’t count on what my future will look like. And I don’t like that. I don’t like feeling fluid, unattached, untethered. I want to build a home and a stable life where I know there will be another summer after this one, where relationships I make have the potential to last years. Where I wont have to look at each moment and experience as fleeting because soon it will be gone.
And yet, Adam and I talk about how we want to get back to the West coast. About how this life, this place, this house, isn’t forever. I look at all the people I love in Seattle living their wonderful lives in my favorite city and this little part of me still thinks, We just might move back there eventually. Just be patient. It could still happen. And the reality is, I’m robbing myself by thinking like this. By wanting stability while also dreaming of another move. I torture myself with what I can’t have instead of settling into what I do. Loving and exploring and enjoying what’s here, now.
In our first year in Chicagoland we put down roots by buying a house. A house I can imagine seasons, and kids, and lives in. I left my job that connected me to Seattle and found one that rooted me in Chicago. A job where I’ve established relationships, made real friendships, and found a place to connect. Even in this short time, we've made real friends in this place. We’ve been on trips, we've explored, and slowly, oh so slowly, our sense of community and connection grows.
I need to force my wandering mind, a mind trained to think of the next move, the next place, to believe and even look forward to the concept of our third summer here, and our fourth, and summers and summers after that.
Because ultimately, I can’t settle anywhere if I don’t stop dreaming…