Home and Back Again

Last week I got back from a trip to the West Coast. I visited my six months pregnant best friend in Seattle and then drove down to Portland to meet my new nephew and see my brother and sister-in-law.

I had such a great time! Lady R and I have been friends for over a decade now. We went through our reckless, joyful party years together, we’ve watched each other fall in love and get married and now she’s entering this new chapter of becoming a mom.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to time things perfectly to be there when she has her baby girl, but it was really important for me to spend some time with her and experience this stage of life with her. It was also fun to hear her perspective on what it was like being pregnant and talk about the things she was excited and anxious about.

While I was in Seattle, I also had a chance to catch up with a lot of other friends. I miss them all so much! As much as I love living by my sister here in New England, it’s been really hard meeting new people. I haven’t found a group of friends that is even near to the level of friendship, intimacy and acceptance that I have in Seattle. I’m not sure if that’s a product of environment, age, circumstance, or what. (I suspect it’s probably a bit of all those factors.) However, there’s simply no comparison when I go back to Seattle and things just click seamlessly back into place. It’s as if there wasn’t any time between visits. It feels like coming home.

To be honest, I really wish that I had never left the Northwest. I want to go back so badly that my bones ache with it. There’s this one hill when you’re driving up from Sea-tac and the road crests and turns, then- BAM!- all of the Seattle skyline is laid out along the horizon, twinkling like a jewel. This view, specifically, never fails to hit me right in my soul and resonate. My chest opens up as if some unseen pressure is lifted and I FEEL lighter, as if I can fully breathe again.

Despite my desire to move back, we have a house now and, what with the market, I don’t think we’d be able to get what we paid for it- let alone make any kind of profit on it. Granted, we got a really, REALLY good deal on it, and we’ve done a lot of work with it so far… but the market here is still pretty soft.

Terry says he also wants to move back, but I think he’s scared to. For one thing, he’s not willing to start from scratch again. Which, makes sense. We’re in our mid-thirties and a little old for couch surfing. He doesn’t think we could make the $10- $15K profit that we would need in order to put a down payment on another house out West.

While I was visiting Lady R and Mr. J, they were also trying to find new living arrangements so they’d have enough room for the incoming baby. I had a chance to get a really good look at the housing market over there right now. The problem is, it never really got as soft as the East coast and looks like it’s rebounding faster. So, where it’s more difficult to sell here, it will also be more difficult to buy over there.

That’s the first fear. The second fear is that we’re not really sure if we’d have the same earning potential in the Seattle area. In some ways, I feel like I lucked out getting the job that I have. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think it’s what I should be doing, and to be honest, I have urges to just drop it and pursue something that I could be passionate about.

Then this little voice in my head says that I should be mature, keep my head down and stick with the secure job that pays well and includes benefits. I do feel like my soul is slowly getting sucked dry working as a stock broker. I’m afraid I’m becoming that stereo typical office drone that keeps putting one foot in front of the other until suddenly, decades later, you look up and ask yourself, “Who am I? Where has the time gone? Why am I walking in this really deep rut?”

The problem is that I only have a two year associate’s degree and am not sure what other skills I could offer at this point in a recovering job market. I mean, I’m really good with people and communication, I can definitely contribute to any office environment… but retail, tech support, office assistant positions all would not pay nearly as much as I’m currently earning.
That would mean we’d be going into a stronger real estate market, with a high cost of living, but potentially earning less money on my side.

Terry is in construction and has worked in residential, commercial and industrial capacities. Although he’s concerned about the same job constraints, to be honest, I’m less worried about him. The problem is, that most construction requires contacts to get your foot in the door. We have a few residual people that could probably help pull some strings loose, but that usually takes some time.

In essence, I’d have to find a paycheck and hold down the fort while he worked his network to find a job if we were to move back. Plus, construction is very seasonal so we’d have to time it during the early spring season to increase the chances of getting hired.

Blech! Technically, though, all of this boils down to obstacles and details. A part of me recognizes that if I really want to move back, then I could make it happen. Granted, a lot of what’s holding us back is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of starting over. It’s not all my fear, either. I know Terry has a lot, maybe even more. As good as we are together, in this case, I think we’re exacerbating each other’s problems and helping hold each other back.

Honestly, if I were single, I’d do it this instant. Then again, I’ve always been a bit more reckless than Terry. Moving, relocating, flying by the seat of my pants, although not ideal, is not something new to me. I’ve been talking about moving back to Seattle for years now. Almost as long as I’ve been away, actually. I feel like if I can hold out a little bit longer and get some of the repairs done on the house and wait for the market to firm up a bit more…then we can make it happen. I just really hope I’m not waiting for a ship that never comes.

*Sigh* All of that is sort of depressing to think about, especially after such a lovely, fun, wonderfully warm trip! So, I’m going to shake it off for now, but it’s definitely something that keeps growing bigger and bigger in the back of my mind and is going to need to be addressed at some point.

At any rate, after visiting with friends in Seattle, I drove my rental car down to Portland and stayed with my brother, sister-in-law and got to meet my 3 month old, absolutely adorable nephew, Baby K!

Wow, has my brother matured! He’s really come into his own and it was such a pleasure to see him as the man he is now. He’s such a hands on dad. You can tell that he is completely in love with being a father and just happy with where his life at the moment.

He hasn’t just grown in the realm of fatherhood, either. I can see how it’s shaped his perspective on his other family relationships, as well. Although I think T and I have always had a good relationship, we’re almost too much alike in some ways.

For one thing, we both suck at long-distant communication and relationships. It’s just not something either one of us is particularly good at. When both sides are bad at it, you can go for super long stretches at a time without talking. Not as if there’s any animosity or anything, but just that it’s an empty void.

Unfortunately, our differences are that he can be a bit cool and dissecting, and I’m very emotional. In the past, that has created some frustrations and miscommunications between us. We still had a few spots during the visit, but NOTHING to the extent it’s been in the past.

This visit, he seemed to be more emotionally accessible, open and free with his smiles. He had a softer, happier demeanor and wasn’t so chilly and analytical. He was more receptive to family conversations and “remember whens” and less impatient. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t completely changed…there were a couple of times where he kind of cut off abruptly, but overall, he seemed much more willing to engage.

It reminded me of the sweeter, happier, younger boy that he used to be…but put into a more mature and thoughtful man.

And he’s such a great dad! Willing to pitch in on diapers and feedings and all the things that an infant needs, but also more than that. Talking to Baby K and playing with him and just being very, very aware at all times. I caught glimpses of the father he’s going to become and it warmed my heart.

So, overall, this trip was a HUGE success! I saw a ton of friends, visited family and met my nephew! It has also restoked my determination to somehow, someway get back to the West coast. I get kind of numbed and complacent here on the day to day level, but when I go back to Seattle it reminds me of who I really am and what it feels like to be home.

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