This episode begins with an unedited journal entry from the month before my move to Minnesota. The anticipatory grief was strong but you can hear the hope in my word. Then I sit down with Heidi Schmidt, who launched her brand new video podcast this week called Only One Mom. Together we reflect on the good old days of blogging, from LiveJournal to 20 Something Bloggers, and share the disappointment in how commercialized blogging has become. Mom blogs are especially problematic. Heidi shares a bit about the unique struggles of working moms and the importance of prioritizing physical fitness as self-care.
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I’m having a pretty heavy feeling of grief this evening. Illinois has been home for almost 10 years, and Oak Park for more than half that. I’m going to miss the city, the opportunities it’s given us — from being the first city outside of New York to get Hamilton, to hearing fireworks when the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup or Cubs win the World Series. I’m going to miss the cultural quirks — hearing Polish regularly, Italian beef sandwiches, even deep dish. And Lake Michigan was such a big part of my childhood. Even if I haven’t spent much time on it as an adult, it was still comforting knowing it was there — something familiar that connected me to my first home.
Illinois has been an extended intermission in my life, and the second act is beginning soon. The house lights are blinking, signaling that it’s time to wrap up what we’re doing and get back to our seats — where we’ll plant our roots — in Minneapolis. But it feels tremendously sad to say goodbye. I’m not sentimental about things, but I am about places. We’ve made lots of amazing memories in this house and in this neighborhood. And as much as this rental house needs work, I’m still smitten with our little red coach house. What a neat place to call home. Would I want to stay here forever? Absolutely not. So now is as good a time as any, I suppose. It’s not that it feels unfinished or incomplete. It’s just sad. I’ll miss our friends and my routine here and our way of life. I’ll miss all the familiar places and sounds and people.
Luckily, this is the last time I”ll likely have to deal with this kind of separation. Because we’re not just moving, we’re finally laying down roots. I keep using that phrase, but it’s what I’ve been craving for years. My word for 2016 was to settle, to ease into my space and relax a bit finally. And I’m glad I did. It was a great year for me. 2017’s word was surrender — forcing me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And this move, happening so quickly, is just another testament to that. Let it happen; the universe will guide it in the way it’s meant to go. There’s not much I can control in this process anyways. My job is to wrap things up then pack things up. Everything else is done. We have a place to live, we have moving help, we have a source of income, we have friends and family… it’ll be the longest but one of the most supported moves we’ve done yet.
There’s a tiny bit of fear — am I doing the right thing? It’s just a tiny bit of cold feet, the cold feet I never felt before my wedding. I could refuse to go. I could run away, travel abroad and not tell anyone when or if I’ll return. I’m afraid I’ll hate living in Minneapolis, that I’ll miss the bigger city too much, that I’ll miss Oak Park too much, that the cold will be unbearable despite all the bright siding I’ve done for years. I’m afraid I’ll hate living so close to family and friends, that I’ll miss the anonymity of a dense, transient neighborhood. What if homeownership and Minnesotan life isn’t as good as I expect it to be? What if the house always feels like Joe’s and never like mine? What if my anxiety gets bad and I can’t hide from family and I don’t have a new therapist yet? What if I hate the plane traffic and nosy neighbors? What if Gus gets sick again? What if I never feel settled and always feel like a visitor, guest, or imposter? What if nothing is ever the same again?
On the other hand, what if it’s even better than I imagined? That having a community and belonging somewhere feels exactly as good as I’ve been craving? What if we remodel the house, breathe new life into it, and ultimately create our dream home? What if our hard work, good opportunities, and smart decisions pay off, letting us lead a charmed life? What if it all works out for the best?