Take that leap of faith.
And take it with your whole heart.
17 months ago, almost exactly, we moved from Iowa to North Carolina.
That’s over 1,000 miles between where we’ve always been to where we were heading.
I grew up in the MidWest. It was all I knew.
But then the time came where we knew we wanted to venture out, we felt stuck. And so we began acting on that. Alex starting applying for jobs around the country. Yes, most were in the Midwest, but in places that we loved- such as Madison, WI and Kansas City, KS. But then there was one in Greensboro, NC with Volvo.
We acted on our feelings of wanting to be elsewhere, but did I ever think it would happen? Nope, not really to be honest.
And then it did. Volvo called Alex. They did a phone interview, and then flew him to Greensboro for an interview. 3 weeks later he got the call that he got the job.
I remember that night. He had a call set up about the interview, he knew it would go one of 2 ways. The phone rang, he stepped into our bedroom for 5 minutes, and then he slowly came out. He was quiet, he walked slow, and then a smile crept across his face as he said “I got the job”. We cried. We cried out of happiness, but then literally 60 seconds into that cry I started to sob.
And that wasn’t happiness.
I was hit with a wave of realization that I was going to have to leave my family and the place of the nation where I always called home, the Midwest.
I grew up in Illinois. Every Sunday when we were young we would go to my dad’s parents house for Taco Sunday. My dad was one of six children, so the family was large. My cousin on my dad’s side was my best friend growing up and still is to this day. We’d always go to my dad’s side for Christmas Eve or Christmas day, and go to my mom’s side for the other. Every year. My mom was one of five children, so that family was big as well. I would go to my mom’s sisters house and hang out with my other best friend cousin. We would put on my aunts shoes and play dress up. As we got older we would party in their pool and eventually we started a “Black Wednesday” tradition of getting a party bus for the family the night before Thanksgiving. Growing up we never missed holidays with the family, even Easter where we began doing “Adult Easter egg hunts”. We would go to every birthday party that we could. We were involved, and family time was never something I hated.
I was 23 years old and terrified. The dreams of leaving that we had hoped and prayed for had come true and I was terrified.
I remember the night before we left, our friends came over to say goodbye and the conversation kept going, as if to put off the actual good bye.
And I said goodbye to my best friend. My literal twin in a shorter versioned body of myself. Someone I never would have met if it weren’t for Iowa. And when she left I went into our empty bedroom and cried. And Alex came in and said “We don’t have to do this. We don’t have to leave. I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to, but I need you to tell me now” And I contemplated saying “yes let’s stay here, I can’t leave”.
But I didn’t. And the next morning we packed up the uhaul and began our 15 hour trek, divided into 2 days, across country.
And then, 3 days later when I dropped my dad and brother off at the airport after they had helped us move. Even after getting into a screaming argument with my very hungover brother on the car ride there. I sobbed again. Alone in my car. I put my sunglasses on so no one could see. I cried because this was it, we were on our own.
Now so far, I probably seem like some wildly emotional person, and I kind of am. But 90% of my cries are dog related. But in this period of my life I was crying for other reasons.
I was crying because I went from a town of less than 10,000 growing up, to a town of 41,000 for college, to a town of 287,000. And now we were on our own, with 287,000 strangers surrounding us.
My mom worried, because I didn’t know anyone out here. She knew the kind of social butterfly I was and how important it is to me to have social events to go to and friends to hang with. It’s true, I am an extrovert like that.
But to no one’s surprise, I dove in, I got a job at Orangetheory Fitness and within the first 2 weeks I met one of my bridesmaids. The first 4 months flew by and I was making friends, I had stopped using my GPS as much (but definitely still needed it!), we had found places that we liked to revisit, such as 913 whiskey bar.
But truth be told I still would drive to and from work and miss home so agonizingly bad that I would either crank up some upbeat tunes for jamming to get my mind off of it, or I would play songs that reminded me of home.
On this exact weekend last year we went back to my hometown in Byron, IL for the annual summer festival. We were supposed to fly in on Thursday night, but our flight got cancelled and I cried. I cried because that was 13 hours less of family time that I would have, even though we would see them bright and early the next morning.
That trip home reminded me of why i loved the Midwest. And when people asked why I was so excited to be going home, I would simply say “you don’t understand the Midwest unless you’ve lived there”.
And we returned from that trip and I still didn’t feel like I was home, I feel like I just left it, because i did. Yes, I was making friends. We were fitting in. We were engaged and moving into a new home, but I still missed some things.
But then we went back to Iowa in September and this wave of “ahh things DO happen for a reason” came over me. Maybe I didn’t need to miss the Midwest so agonizingly bad afterall. I realized that the college town needed to stay that, the college town. That it’s better to look back at places with good memories than to be stuck there wishing you were out.
And as time flew by I made more friends either through Orangetheory, or my new job, or Alex’s job. And things have changed.
I took me 9 months to say for the first time “I like it here”
It took me about 14 months to say for the first time “I love it here”
I now view this place with the same loving heart that I viewed my Midwest home’s with. Except I also realize the potential within the city that was not possible in Illinois or Iowa. I don’t want to leave.
I freaking love this city. I still miss the Midwest. But I consider myself lucky. Because not everyone gets excited about vacationing to the MidWest. Hell, some people will NEVER travel there. But I get to go there, and go to all of our favorite places and it is a darn good vacation when we doo!
Greensboro, you and your community of nice, yet wild people have stolen my heart.
I fell in love with this city and the experience.
I did it because of a leap of faith.
You can too.