The Chapters of Branching Out

*as i started writing this, i intended to keep it short. that didn’t happen, so here’s your fair warning for a 5+ min read ahead 🙂 

It’s been 2 years.

TWO YEARS since we left Iowa. 

730 days since we packed up “Timmy” (the truck) and began our 986 mile, give or take, from the Midwest to the South.

We picked up our roots. Picked up our animals & loaded them up. And off we went.

Talk about a Valentine’s Day.

Our dogs have now lived in North Carolina for more months than they lived in Iowa, mind blown. 


If you’re close to me, you know a few obvious things about me.

  1. I talk about my dogs way too much
  2. I also talk about Orangetheory way too much
  3. I have no desire to move back to the Midwest

Greensboro, NC is home.

& i love it here.

I fell in love with this place kind of how you fall in love with a person. Unexpected. Starts off slow and then snowballs into this crazy ride of emotions. Chapter after chapter you learn something new and feel something more wonderful. There are messy parts, but mostly beautiful parts.

The chapters of North Carolina are no exception. Messy at times, wonderful at times, highs and lows, but now? Mostly highs.

Chapter 1

“I have a phone call with Volvo tonight, I’m either getting the job or not. I’m nervous”. Was more or less the sentence Alex told me minutes before his scheduled call with Volvo. It was January 25, 2017. After 2 interviews with Volvo, this was the moment. Alex had applied to many jobs prior to this, most of them located in the Midwest somewhere. But there were the few stragglers, a few in FL, maybe 1 in Texas, and then Greensboro, NC. What does Greensboro have to offer even? I had never heard anything about it.

The phone rang and not even 5 minutes later Alex came slowly out of the bedroom. Not talking for what felt like hours but it was probably only 7 seconds. A smile slowly creeps across his face as he says “I got the job”.

I jump off the couch, go hug him, congratulations and the whole shabang.

But when we settle back on the couch I slowly start to cry. Quiet at first and then it turns into quite the sob as I text my parents saying “Alex got the job”.

I don’t know why there isn’t a high school or college course titled “preparing you to be an actual adult” because when shit like this happens that’s exactly what you need.

All of a sudden I wanted to be excited as haiiiilll or finally doing something we, , had wanted to do for so long. Branch out, see the world, move closer to the beach. At the same time I wanted to be 16 years old again where my only worries were not getting caught for having more than 1 person in my car as a newly licensed driver and getting to the football games on time with my bow sitting perfectly in cheerleader-poufed hair.


23 years old is a weird age. You want to be a grown up, you want to do all the things. But you lack all of the former experience to know better, to know how to handle it.

So you take a leap of faith.

A few weeks later, with a smile on my face we all collected at our best friends Chelsea and Clints house for a going away party. All of our friends were there, regardless if they knew each other or not, or even if they knew Chelsea or Clint, they all were there. It felt good to be surrounded by so much love and so much FUN. And without a doubt, by the end of the night the alcohol would sink in and we would cry. Which we did, girls and boys, it didn’t matter, everyone was crying as we left that last bar at oh, 1 or 2AM.  That was it, it was time to say goodbye.

Chapter 2

27 days after that phone call we were off. In that time we had quit our current jobs, flown out to NC to get an apartment, and I began looking for a job, just something to start with in Greensboro. (Cue my beginning with Orangetheory, but that’s for a later chapter).

The drive was easy. It was sunny and our animals surprisingly were SO CALM (okay the dramamine helped). Every new state line we crossed, I was excited. When we got to our apartment, on February 15, and were unloading the truck in shorts and t-shirts. I was freaking ecstatic. Like “hell ya, why didn’t I move to the south sooner?!” My dad helped me unpack all of the fragiles, we put as many coffee cups and dishes away as we could. The sofas were in place, the beds were in their rooms. Alex and Logan were likely on the couch with a beer.

Unpacking made us ravenous, so we went out to eat. I wish I could remember where we ate, but I can’t. Although Kickback Jacks sounds right. All I remember is going to Boxcar, the brand spanking new “Beercade” in Greensboro. Stocked with a full bar and alllll of the nostalgic video games like PacMan and Skeeball. It was such a fun place that when Dad & I were tired enough to head home, Logan & Alex were just getting started with Jameson shots. So we left them.

The next day was the day for my dad and Logan to fly back to Illinois. The Jameson shots from the night before had caught up to a very hungover Logan. We got into a screaming match in the car, typical siblings.

But when it came time to see them off. I hugged them and choked back tears, I couldn’t let them see me afraid. But I was.

As soon as I got back in the car and began the 1.5 hour drive from Raleigh back to Greensboro I put on my sunglasses to hide my tears. I cried the whole way home.

Chapter 3

Six months went by in a freaking blur. But a good blur, that’s for damn sure!

My parents came out, not even a full month into being here, for my birthday. We went to Kure beach, it was quiet and quaint and we got to bring the dogs.

Right before that I met one of my best friends out here. idk how we became friends but we basically clicked right away. we liked similar things and disliked the same people (I’m talking about you Sasha)

3 weeks later Alex proposed to me, on his birthday, in Myrtle beach.

2 days after that I taught my first solo class at Orangetheory (where I had been working as a sales associate and going through training to be a coach for 6ish weeks already).

1 month after that my mom got diagnosed with cancer. And I remember saying on the phone “I knew as soon as I moved away something bad would happen, because that means I can’t be there for it”.

1 month after that we met my brother and his friend in Myrtle Beach again for Carolina Country Music Festival (highly recommend).

And 1 month after that we were back in the Midwest. Stopping at the best brewery known to mankind, New Glarus Brewery in New Glarus, WI. Home of the spotted cow. And then we met all of our best Iowa friends in my hometown of Byron, iL for the summer festival of the year there. Oh let’s not forget that I also picked out my wedding dress!!!

And finally, we moved into our FIRST HOME.

The first 6 months were solid. Things looked great, well they were great. I mean really, I fully understood how blessed I was to be in Greensboro, and all of the awesome things that came with it so far.

But I still didn’t quiteeeee belong yet. Hell, we hadn’t even found a vet that we liked yet (and you all know how much we NEED that with our rascal of a brat named Owen). I was still using my GPS almost daily, Sasha (and her boyfriend Kirky) were pretty much the only people we knew to call to hang out on the weekends. Did we have friends at work? Sure. If we saw them out could we say HEY! Absolutely. But we, so far, only had 2 best friends. I was still working part time, and it was wearing on me, job searching day in and day out. And i just down right missed my parents, my family, and my best friend Chels.


Chapter 4

Not to say that Chapter 3 wasn’t good at all, because it was. But it was absolutely the learning curve of “moving at the age of 23 and learning how to deal with it” because in the following 6 months, things picked up.

I got a full time job (HOLLLLAAA financial stability). I got asked to walk in a fashion show. I ran a half marathon and 2 days later got elbow surgery (which is freakinnnnn great now!). We made fellow midwesterners-transplated into- North Carolina- friends (shout out Teryn and Jerad). We went back to Iowa and I realized I didn’t miss it. My mom had surgery to remove her tumor.  Chelsea and Clint came to visit. We went to the NC mountains for the first time (TRUE BEAUTIES), and hosted both of our parents here for Thanksgiving. And by time we went to Charlotte for my first ever NFL game in Dec 2017, I finally said out loud “I DO like it here”.

Chapter 5

Approaching and passing our one year moveaversary was a big deal. I liked it in Greensboro, and by summer of 2018, I knew that I LOVED it. By then I knew I had no intentions of moving back to the Midwest (which previously I thought give it 5 years and we’ll be back). If you knew us during this chapter (Feb 2018-our wedding in Aug 2018), and know us now, you would think that we’ve always loved it here, that we always had a lot of friends, that we knew our way around etc. You would have looked at previously written chapters and thought “nah that’s not the Carly & Alex we know”. But this chapter is where we find our strides.

Work picks up, we make new friends (and i mean a PLETHORA of new friends), credit to Orangtheory for 99% of those friends to be honest, and we do alllll the wedding things. This is the chapter of making it.

And I’m just damn glad I allowed myself to open up chapter 1 so long ago, because without that I wouldn’t have made it to chapter 5, the “rising up” chapter, the part where we find our stride, the chapter where it all changed.

And if you knew me in this chapter, or any chapters that will exist after, you will know that THIS was when I was over the moon happy more days than not. Even with bad times, the better times shone brighter. My mom went into remission, we got married, our new friends introduced us to more new friends, we traveled. Promotions and raises happened, Alex’s job was great, I fell in love with OTF more than ever. We saw our family more in this chapter than in all previous 4 chapters combined.


Chapter 6

We realized that without Chapter 5, we wouldn’t be here in Chapter 6. Well, without any chapters we wouldn’t be here, but that’s not the point. If it weren’t for chapter 5, and some of chapter 4, I wouldn’t be so excited to be starting a chapter 6 in North Carolina. I’ve seen people move to new places, be so excited there, and then move away because it wasn’t up to par. I’m glad that North Carolina wasn’t that story for us, but I know it could have been.

2 years into living in North Carolina, with no forecast of leaving anywhere in the future. We are hitting 2019 RUNNING. As we started this year we had 6 trips FOR SURE in the books, with more in the works. We are traveling to new places, to same places. We are traveling with friends, and with family. We have activity after activity to do here in Greensboro. New opportunities to grab, and the chance to keep killin it in old opportunities.

So when I say “I’m glad that North Carolina wasn’t that story for us, but I know it could have been”. I’m saying it to tell you, anyone reading this, that might be starting something new. A new city, a new job, a new puppy or child, and new relationship. I’m here to tell you that you need to do it with your whole heart. TRY it full speed ahead. Do your best. Ask for help. Find friends that support this new journey. And always find the brightside. always always always. the world is too dark a place for you to make it darker with any negative thoughts.

New opportunities don’t come often. There will be seasons of no opportunities at all and seasons of many. that just means when you get a chance to do something new, I need you to DO IT.

You never know the greatness that lies ahead.

You literally never know.

Thanks NC for being a great journey.

I can’t wait for more.

Thank you to the friends we’ve made out here.

And the friends we’ve kept from afar.

Thank you to our families for supporting us through it all.

& thank you for reading this far.



Much love & wanderlust
❤ Carly & Alex


And to read all of my previous sappy posts about living out here click the links below:

“6 months southern”  

“One year, NC”

“Take that leap of faith”


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