Our traveling has been a bit slow in the last few weeks, and will remain that way until our trip to Washington DC for July 4th. The first weekend in June, I went back to Iowa for my cousin’s wedding and we are moving into a new house July 10th, so we’re trying to be easy on the budget. Since we don’t have a lot planned, I thought I’d write more about what brought us to North Carolina from Iowa.
Ever since I spent the summer of 2007 in Key West, Florida, I have wanted to move away and live by the ocean. Key West was also where I realized that I wanted to work for the military. Perfect, right? Plenty of places to live near the sea with the military! Of course, for the next 8 years, the timing was never right. I thought it was just one of those dreams that everyone says they will do “someday” but never really get around to. I was getting older, developing my career, and starting to feel settled in small town Iowa.
I was working as a therapist for a company serving a number of rural communities. I had worked really hard to build a caseload, I set my own hours, loved my co-workers, and pretty much planned to work there for the rest of my life. But the easiest way to make God laugh is by telling him your plans, right? On October 2014, I found out our company was closing its doors. I was offered several jobs but didn’t feel like I’d be completely happy at any of them, so I was planning to take time off to explore exactly what I wanted to do while studying for my boards. That was when my boyfriend told me to start applying for jobs with the military anywhere I wanted.
My response probably wasn’t what you’d expect. After all, it was my dream to move away; yet, when Mitchell brought up what had been my dream for so long, I didn’t want to do it. I was terrified of leaving behind the reputation I had built for myself professionally, and I felt so settled where we were at. I think that really, I had already talked myself out of my biggest dream; I came up with so many excuses – it’s time to focus on your career, you’re too old, it’s not practical, ect. After talking it over, we realized what a great opportunity moving away was. I expected it to take about 6 months to get a job, so I started job searching right away. Much to my surprise, I was given a conditional job offer within 8 hours of submitting my resume. The next three months consisted of a ton of paperwork, and it happened so fast!
The conditional job offer pretty much meant that it would take 3 months to fill out paperwork – the job isn’t official until the government receives every last bit of paperwork and approves it. So I didn’t want to start packing or getting rid of things in case the job fell through for some reason. HR told me I’d probably get the official acceptance on the week of January 5th, but instead I got the official offer the week of Christmas. The following 3 weeks were the most stressful of my entire life – seriously, grad school doesn’t even light a candle to those 3 weeks.
I had to pack up our entire apartment and get rid of everything in a matter of 4 weeks. This might not sound like a lot, but consider this being holiday season. We had a lot of plans we couldn’t cancel – a week back home for Christmas, a 7-day cruise, and all of our friends and family who wanted to spend as much time with us as they could before we moved away. I had originally hoped to have a week in between getting back from our cruise and moving, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we got back from our cruise on a Sunday, had Monday to finish our packing and say goodbye to our friends/family, left Tuesday for our 19 hour drive, and I had to start my new job in North Carolina that same Friday. I remember apartment searching, and being in awe at how much we had accomplished, and how much had changed in 7 short days (I also remember thinking, “wow, this was our view just one week ago!”):
I had pictured moving across the country as this big romantic scene. We would take our time, make plenty of stops, and have a lot of memories along the way. HA – what a joke! I felt really rushed because we didn’t have much wiggle room to get to North Carolina, we really had to book it instead of enjoying the ride. Also, I was filled with anxiety about starting my new job. Our last day in Iowa was a really stressful one – we were only taking what could fit in my Honda Fit to North Carolina, and I had done an awful job prioritizing what we would bring vs what we would leave, but it was too late to re-pack. The morning we left for North Carolina, I got sick. Mitchell needed me to talk to him to keep him awake (he drove the entire way by himself!) but talking was miserable for me. We didn’t know where the GPS was (later found it on the floor of my car, underneath tons of stuff) so we had to use our cellphones for directions. Using our cellphones for a GPS ate our data, and we also had really crappy service for about 20 hours of the 24 hour trip (which was only supposed to take 19 hours, by the way). Finally, we hit a terrible ice storm in Virginia in the mountains at 2 am.
Obviously moving across the country wasn’t quite as glamorous as I had once imagined. But it was a huge dream of mine that came true. It was, without a doubt, worth all the hoops we had to jump through, all of the stress, and all of the meltdowns. My only regret is that we didn’t do it earlier.