Let me explain.
When we were in Missouri I kept thinking about how much I want to move back. I miss my family. A lot. I think we are a fun, interesting group of people and I wish we got to be a part of each other's lives on a daily basis instead of a handful of times a year. (Okay, daily might be a bit much, but I could settle for weekly.) HP has a cousin just over a year older than him and one eight months younger. How great would it be for them to all grow up together? Besides the obvious draw of family, I am taken with my hometown itself. I love how small it is compared to Austin. I can bike across the whole city in the time it takes me to get to the grocery store here. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not much.
Then we went to Arkansas. While there, I imagined what it would be like to live there again. It is the state where Neil and I started dating, where we first lived together, and where we fell in love. There are abundant trails to hike, lakes to swim, and rivers to canoe. Many of our friends from college still live in the area, which would ease the transition to a new place. Neil's parents and my uncle live in central Arkansas so we would have family nearby. It seemed perfect.
I have spent a large part of our time in Texas wanting to be somewhere else. That is not to say that I have been unhappy or that I have hated our lives here, just that I would prefer be somewhere else. As Neil astutely pointed out to me last summer, a lot of what is frustrating and challenging in our lives is inherent to our current phase of life and would follow us anywhere we moved. The first year of parenting is hard--the kind of hard that doesn't change just because you move states. It's a good kind of hard--the kind that stretches us further than we thought possible and leaves us irrevocably changed for the better--but hard nonetheless.
After spending nearly two weeks daydreaming about what life would be like in another state, I thought I would feel disappointed to be back in Texas. Instead, once we unpacked and settled back in I thought I love my life here. This is a good spot for us right now. It was such a relief. A burden lifted as I realized that I am happy to call Texas home.
I do want to be someone who thinks I will be happier when "x" happens. Too many people live their lives wishing for things they may never have. Deep in my soul I know that my happiness is not contingent on living in Missouri, Arkansas, or Corvallis, Oregon (our dream city minus the distance from family). The things that sustain me--my marriage, my family, my sense of self-worth--are not dependent on location. Yes, there are aspects of my quality of life that would improve if I lived closer to family. But would I be happier? No, I don't think I would. I have known that intellectually for a long time, but something in me changed when we got back from that trip; now I feel it in my bones.
Some things I am loving about life in Texas right now:
- Our house. We have made several improvements with more on the horizon, including redoing the bathroom and kitchen. Seeing the house slowly come together from our efforts brings me a lot of joy.
- My garden. I have spent a lot of time expanding the garden this spring and it feels great to be growing food on our land. It has been a dream of mine for more than five years and is finally starting to come true.
- Neil's job. He is doing work that he is good at, that challenges him, and that is bringing about positive change in our communities. How many people get to say that?
- On a recent walk I ran into a neighbor I hadn't met before who lives around the corner. Turns out he just moved in last summer. He regularly hosts get-togethers with other neighbors and is going to keep us in the loop about future events.
- I am about to be able to bike with HP, which will revolutionize our lives. Much more on that soon, but for now, I'll just say that this year has been isolating at times and I am excited to move into the era of family bicycling adventures.
- A friend with a three-month old son organized a weekly get together with other moms of young babies. Regular socialization with other mamas? Yes, please.
- In the same vein, I have started attending a meet up group with other mamas in the larger neighborhood. Happy hours with babies=fun for all.
- I just found out there is free yoga and Zumba at the community center blocks from my house at times when Neil can be home with HP. How did I not know about this sooner?
- The first section of trail behind our house is almost done and next spring it will go all the way to the YMCA. Classes for me and on-site childcare for HP.
- The neighborhood pool will be opening up next month which will be a great way to (1) cool off and (2) meet other families in the neighborhood.
Texas, I take back (some) of the awful things I said about you. Turns out you're not so bad after all.