04 May 2013

We Were Supposed to Move This Week

Have you ever attended a funeral where the sun was shining and birds were chirping? Or attended a local fair and fireworks show, only to have the summer's worst thunderstorm blow over the funnel cake stand and soak the Roman candles to utter uselessness?

In other words, have you ever felt that the weather didn't quite match up with the spirit of an event or your own personal mood?

Yeah. Me, too.

Except, this week, the weather has been a perfect match. The forecast called for sun and temperatures near 80. Instead, Mother Nature sent cool, cloudy days with drizzle and chilling winds. Great for our budding garden, and even better for our melancholic state of mind.

This is the week we would have moved 3,000 miles...to Vancouver, Washington. You can blame us for the sunless, Northwest-like weather we've had all week here in Georgia, but we won't feel a bit of guilt. We have welcomed the unusual change in the climate. It reminds me of what drew us to the Northwest in the first place. And it's perfect weather for sulking.

You see, ever since we visited Seattle and British Columbia a few years ago, we were determined to go back. Whether it be through travels or taking up permanent residence, we didn't care. We wanted milder winters and cooler summers. We wanted a longer growing season (hence, the weather--hello, deliciously fat tomatoes). We wanted access to the Pacific and countless national parks and open-air markets.

And I wanted to live amongst the hippies and tree huggers.

Then on the day we delivered Nerd, we decided to come up with a 7-year plan to start saving money for a down payment on a house and move our entire lives to the West Coast. (No joke--we were still in the mother and baby wing when this conversation began.) So when a hospital job opened in the tiny logging town of Longview, WA right before Christmas of 2012, we threw the 7-year plan out the window. Michael had been searching for jobs for months, and this one felt like the perfect fit. The job description was exactly what he does now. It was a drivable distance to both Seattle up north and the beach to the west. And the pay? Well, it would have been worth moving 3,000 miles with a toddler who hates her car seat and a dog who barfs on any car ride over 15 minutes. A call to the vet, and we could have a pack of potent tranquilizers for the road.

Without hesitation, Michael submitted his resume to the hospital. They gave him a phone interview. They loved him and wanted to meet face-to-face. The HR rep (stupidly) gave us a flicker of hope, telling Michael that the position had been open since the summer and that he was the first qualified candidate to apply.

So we started shopping for houses online. With the job in a town so small and...limiting...we turned our sights to Vancouver, right across the Columbia from the progressive city of Portland. I started scouting school districts and job openings in education. Hell, I even looked for jobs outside my career. I envisioned selling souvenirs in the Mt. Rainier gift shop or learning beer brewing techniques in Portland. I was pumped at the mere idea of new opportunity and experience.

Then it was time for the real interview. The hospital flew Michael through Portland for a long weekend, set him up with a rental car and hotel in Longview, and had him meet with a real estate agent who used to serve on the hospital board.

She drove him around town and showed him houses.


When he wasn't touring with locals, he was finding random coffee houses so he could write papers for his class and drive under the grey-veiled skies from riverside to oceanside. He texted photos. I pined.

Then the day of the interview came. I was a wreck just thinking about it. When I hadn't heard any news by the time I was bathing Nerd that evening, I was downright panicky. My husband was on the other side of the country, and I just knew he was laid up in a hospital bed with amnesia in some remote town, eating green Jell-O and being treated by a nurse who resembles Miranda Kerr. And of course, his phone had been left in a coffee shop in Astoria, so his doctors didn't know how to reach his next of kin.

After a dozen texts and as many phone calls, I finally heard from him. No amnesia. And no Miranda Kerr look-alikes. *phew*

He had been in the interview ALL DAY. Over six hours. He pretty much met everyone on staff and was treated to lunch. We knew it was a done deal. It would come down to numbers and finding a date in our crazy schedule to move. We told a handful of friends and family. Some were sad at the idea. Others couldn't bear it. We were silly with excitement.

I called a real estate agent. She came to our house the morning he got home from his return flight. She told me what walls to paint and that the spring was the best time to put a house on the market. How could everything feel so...right?

That was a Tuesday. The HR rep from the hospital called on Wednesday.

She told Michael they weren't offering him the position. Michael expressed surprise. She was just as surprised, having thought he was perfect for the job, especially since they had been searching for the right candidate for months.

And there it went. Our dream of being West Coasters. Poof, gone. I am one of those who believes everything happens for a reason, but I'm convinced the reason here was more about politics and resistance to outsiders.

So listen up, Washington (and Oregon and California, too, just in case): we'd make awesome residents on your side of the Lower 48. We drive an eco-friendly car, use green bags and cloth diapers, and recycle everything from beer bottles to toothpaste boxes. We promise to cut our grass on a regular basis and buy bicycles. Yeah, yeah, we'll pay our taxes and do our civic duty when asked to serve on a jury, but I assume you figured that out.

Yes, this would have been the week our lives would have changed dramatically. Thirty-one years in Georgia traded in for new years in Washington. And the chance to raise Nerd among West Coast hippies and hipsters.

For now, we'll just wallow in our gloom while the rainfall waxes and the daylight wanes. Mother Nature really delivered on this mood-matching game.

1 comment:

A. Hab. said...

I'm so sorry! I didn't realize that last week would have been THE week. :( Sounds like we both had rough weeks--I'm also partly to blame for the erratic weather. I spent all last week anxiously sitting by the phone awaiting my own call about a job offer. Never heard anything from them. But I understand how you feel--when I went for my interview, I literally fell in love with the city and the surrounding area. I drove around (because I didn't know when I would be able to do it again) and located all the best shops and areas where residents seemed to hang out. It will be a crushing disappointment if I don't get the offer.

It's almost impossible not to start dreaming when that kind of opportunity rolls around. It seems to me that now that we're mothers, we don't just consider the dream, but we also start to make real plans. We have to. These big exciting changes affect more than just the two adults in the relationship now. So we research school districts on GreatSchools (did that, too), we look for neighborhoods on Zillow, we calculate distances to cultural activities (museums, aquariums, symphonies), and we start mentally making arrangements (how do we get a carsick dog across the continent?). I've been told this past week not to do these things because it will just drive me crazy (and all those people were right, of course). But not dreaming, not making some plans is about as difficult as asking me to just go ahead and stop blinking.

I believe your family will make it across the country, Vik. I really do. Just keep searching for those opportunities, and remember to be willing to take some calculated risks. (Sound cliche enough? Cliches are cliches for a reason though....) I guess the bright side is that you haven't made it to the end of your 7-year time period (not even halfway!), so the 7-year plan isn't completely lost. Silver linings, right? Sigh. Sorry about the crummy week.


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