This is a story I am tired of telling.
But I can’t stop telling it, because it is my story. It is the story that puts everything that is now me and my life in context. I’m sure everyone feels the same fatigue, or fears it from their readers, when recounting a fundamental change in who, what and where they are. “I used to have/be/know/love/think/believe x. Things are different now.”
Here is the story.
A year ago, right after Christmas, we (my husband Matt, myself and two cats) were living in a rural suburb of Portland, Oregon. I had lived in Portland since moving there for college 9 years prior; the rest of my life was spent in similarly rural suburbs of Tacoma, Washington. As a belated holiday gift, Matt’s company offered him a new position in Tucson, Arizona. It was the stereotypical ‘offer you can’t refuse’ with an outstanding salary, position, the whole uproot-your-life package. A much better opportunity than he could hope to land in Portland. Seven weeks later, I was resigned from my own job, everything I wished to haul was boxed, and we had a Craigslist ad’s set of pictures of a new home. We did what I never considered doing–we left.
As this year’s Christmas dims and retreats into Rubbermaid totes and Instagrammed memories, I feel like it’s time to move past this story and into a new one. For months I considered myself a victim of chance, that life was robbing me of everything I knew and loved. As a writer, I wasn’t sure I could exist outside of Portland, like a fickle plant tossed out of the greenhouse. How could this craft exist without Powell’s in driving distance? Wordstock? How could I ever hope for an Oregon Book Award?
A week or so before our moving van took off, I asked one of my favorite writers, Chloe Caldwell, out to lunch. I asked her the same question I had for the universe: how can you write and not be here?
“I think every move is for a reason, to find something you didn’t have here,” she said. “Maybe it’s just something as simple as a new desk. You’ll figure it out.”
I do have a really sweet desk now. One that wouldn’t have fit in our Portland house. I’m not sure that’s what I’m supposed to find, but I feel like I’m finally ready to figure it out. Which is why I thought that now, with the new all-Arizona year in store and the majority of the bitching and crying over picture of Mt. Hood and Macklemore songs behind me, would be a good time to start puzzling on it. After defining myself by my sense of place, what happens when that flips into opposite land?
The story goes, we came here for my husband’s opportunity. This is the first time I consider that fate may have meant it for mine.