“Moving?” “You’re MOVING?! “You’re moving.”
It’s amazing, really, how many emotions taint the inflections that sit just behind words as people quickly process the news. Especially news as big as relocating away from them; neighbors, friends, and even closer, family. The most common second question is “Where?” To which at the time of our announcement, we had no answer. But we could answer why: we needed to be outside. We needed space; to see the stars and smell the earth. We needed nature. We needed something a little more Wild.
The boys exploring a new favorite swimming hole.
Moving. It’s always a love-hate. No, I’m not talking about leaving friends to make others or pulling away from the familiar and pushing toward the uncharted. Those are emotional; the emotional drama that plays out during a relocation. I mean the literal act of moving all your stuff. That’s what it is, right? You need to physically take all your stuff out of one shelter and put it into another. Cavemen needed only to move a favorite rock and their club. Early travelers had the clothes on their back and a few suitcases. Nomads had it down with collapsible tents and tepees (of course they often hunted and gathered, neither of which I plan on doing anytime soon.) But us North American suburbanites? We need a 40 foot truck; maybe even two.
This time around, the move was a little more intense. Most people choose to downsize their stuff when they move, going through deep closets and establishing what should fill valuable space in the moving truck. In our case, we had only a temporary stop with no real plans beyond a year; maybe less. We were moving into a furnished residence which offered an ease in the cleanse: no king size mattresses to lug down the hall or couches to twist through doorways. Still, we needed to fit our current 1800 square feet of spacious spread into 950 square feet of cozy cabin.
Luckily, we only needed a 15 foot truck. Phew!
We sold a few things (someone paid $5 for our router so I took the boys out for donuts) and donated everything else. Well, not everything else. Just our couches, beds, tables, half our kitchen stuff (we had three colanders and we eat pasta about once) most of my shop stuff and some stuff from a closet and this stuff here, that stuff there… It was a little embarrassing, really. I often take pride in how little we shop and our minimalist ways; then I emptied out just one closet and counted 20 blankets. Our house, in Tempe, Arizona, consistently the second hottest place in the hemisphere and we had 20 blankets. Extra blankets.
We donated them.
After the purge, we put our house on the market. What had started as an exploratory conversation with a realtor with questions like “Is now a good time?” “Do we need to paint all the baseboards?” “how much do we ask?” ended with an agreement that it would be on the market in six weeks. First, we needed to fit in a road trip through Colorado to Wyoming, a three week escape in Costa Rica, four days with company, up to Canada to hang with my side of the family and back to host my brother and his wife for a week.
A guy showed up to pound in a “for sale” sign the morning after they left. We needed to slow down.
The house was on the market for three days. Ten groups of total strangers wandered through our rooms, trying to imagine eating breakfast at the bar (no! That’s where Kai and Aven eat breakfast) and to see if they could squeeze their sectional reclining couch in front of our fireplace (really? That’s where we read bedtime stories.) Even with a thousand memories dancing through the last four years, we were committed.
Four years of much blood and many tears restructuring this house physically and emotionally into our home and now it was time. Reasons to stay? Oh, there were many. Amazing neighbors who had become friends. Biking distance to everything; and I mean everything. (I miss Trader Joe’s so much…) A great pool, garden and a giant shower. And did I mention the neighbors…
Reasons to leave? Now, that’s a little tricky. During one of our first road trip adventures as a family, Lanna and I were dreaming about what we wanted the future to look like. It was somewhere in western Utah and we had just spent our first night camping with the boys. The minute we had pulled into our campsite, Kai and Aven jumped out of the car, promptly found two sticks and journeyed into the wild. They didn’t ask, they didn’t tell, they just started to explore.
We needed the Wild.
We tossed around ideas over the next year that covered possible move locations, travel ideas, big yards, bigger forests, oceans, countries… Every option was explored. We couldn’t land on anything but we kept thinking we needed to land somewhere. Or maybe not. Maybe we just need to put our launch into motion. We just had to say it.
The first house hunters put in an offer two hours after our house was on the market. We took it. We sold more stuff, donated what little was left and packed up about 30 boxes worth of our life. I know, right?! We STILL had 30 boxes! I had them all arranged around three of the four walls in a now bed-less, vacant bedroom and sat myself in the middle of our now somewhat condensed stuff. After looking at them and reading the scrawled sharpie describing the contents in each, I realized that four boxes were full of pantry staples, another three were big items like a crockpot and food processor. Not bad. That meant we technically fit into 23 boxes. I can live with my pseudo-minimalist mindset with 23 boxes. Medium size, mind you; it even said it on the box.
During that first exploratory chat with the realtor, he asked if we could move in 30 days. No, no we could not. We knew we wanted to move from but had no to. After discussing our potential move with Lanna’s parents, they generously opened up their home as a potential pause while we waited to discover where we could root down.
“Well, you could always use the cabin as an option,” Lanna’s mom offered.
Light bulbs went off: it fit perfectly. The cabin sits up on small hill nestled in ponderosa pines within a small community of vacation homes that empty out once the heat dissipates in the Phoenix area (two hours south) around mid October. The solitude was a part of the attraction, but the real reason it fit? The cabin backed up to the national forest. Yup, our nearest neighbors to the north would be 25 miles away, unless you count the squirrels, birds, deer, elk, foxes and about a thousand other critters that make homes in the rocks off the back deck, visit the feeders hanging above the table and wander through just beyond the fire pit.
Yeah, it would work. We moved on August 31st with tearful goodbyes to family, friends and neighbors and a joyful welcome to what the next few months would hold for our family. We were about to do what we had dreamed of, what had been talked through, and shared for the last year. Our good life was about to slow down and open up a whole world of being. Being with more nature, more space, and more each other.
So here I write. Watching a thunderstorm move in while a sip some tea and listen to the boys work through the letter “L.” Recess was a pre-rain hike down to the river bed and later science will include a bunch of leaves we collected on the hike. It’s not forever up here. Future posts will most likely hint at potential plans and possible next moves. For now, we are here. We’ll take some day trips, drive into the city every few weeks, and journey farther out when we can. Right now, this is life and we’re living as fully as we can.
Thanks for joining me on this part of the path. I hope that through this, you are inspired to live out dreams and catch all of the life that surrounds you. This is part of our dream playing out into reality. It’s slow, it’s intentional, and it’s good. Real good.