I’ve hinted at and mentioned in earlier posts that I’m making some big changes in my life, and I ain’t kidding: I’m moving to Boise.
(Boise’s in Idaho, BTW. Not to be confused with Iowa).
Why? Significant other – that would be Tyler – got a job there. So, that’s where I’m going, too, away from the Washington, DC area but with my current job, which I’m able to continue to do remotely.
How long we’ll be there, what this means for his career, for my career, and what’s on the horizon for us in general is not completely clear. But he’s in Boise, and in less than a month, I will be, too.
To be clear, this post will not unpack:
- the pros and cons of living in a (self-)important, expensive city like DC;
- the pros and cons of living in a small, isolated city like Boise;
- the change to my career trajectory that comes with leaving the (self-)important, expensive DC;
- that as a young and ambitious women, I am undertaking this move as a significant other, not the wife or even fiance, of a person who came upon this opportunity (huh–this could be two bullets); or
- that I’ll be moving farther than driving distance away from my family during a difficult time for many.
Not today. (Another day!)
What I want to do is to acknowledge the seemingly ridiculousness of this situation: I have a comfortable situation for myself in DC. I live relatively near to my family. I see a career trajectory in front of me that contains surmountable challenges and tangible rewards. I have the education and experience to actually survive in a place so stupidly expensive as DC is.
Thanks, but no thanks. I’m going to Boise instead.
For the record, because so, so many people have no point of reference – which is fine because as stated, it’s small and isolated – Boise is located in Idaho. This place is generally lovely and gorgeous. The city isn’t sprawling and the region has quirks, but if you’re into the mountains and the high desert and all that these geographic lovelies have to offer – skiing, hiking, camping, all relatively close to civilization with minimal traffic in the way between you and the mountains/high desert – it’s a wonderful place. (Or so I’m told. Also for the record: I have not ever lived in Boise.)
What, beyond the mountains and outdoor activities and general loveliness makes me happy to throw my life in the air? Tyler, of course, is a huge factor.
But I’ve done this before for what feels like similar reasons.
At age 18, three days after graduating from a high school situated in the middle of a corn field and next to the elementary school where I’d also attended, I packed up my new-to-me-but-still-quite-junky SUV with all of my possessions (clothes, basically, and my acoustic guitar) and jumped behind the wheel. I drove the 2,300 miles to central Oregon, completely by myself and with no plans for college, to a place I’d only driven through on family road trips, to stay with family friends I really didn’t know very well who’d accepted my request to post up. Accompanying these facts was only a hazy idea of how to support myself for the foreseeable future.
The reason: I hated Ohio. I hated living in Ohio with the fury of a self-involved teenager who felt nothing but stifled for the extent of her teenagedom. I wanted nothing more than to be out of Ohio, because all of Ohio and anything that resembled it – the entire eastern half of the United States, in my mind – was dull and flat and and boring and stupid. I didn’t want to attend an in-state university, I didn’t want to make an attempt at making it at a pricey, prestigious college, even one not located in the eastern half of the United States; that route seemed too boring and stupid. Instead I dreamed of the mountains, the airy space, the desert, the skiing, the hiking, things I could do in my own, adult life. I envisioned, almost constantly for months, a different life in a different place.
This juvenile road trip in in my overheating Durango took place 10 years ago this month.
A year after arriving, nine years ago now, I went further west to the Willamette Valley for undergraduate and graduate school experiences that were anything but boring and stupid. But before then, I learned that the remote high desert of Oregon where I had aimed myself has a limited job market for recent high school graduates with the kind of work experience that includes sorting tomatoes at roadside vegetable stands, and little in the way of community formed by freewheeling 18-year-olds on college campuses. I confronted and was generally swept away by underemployment, money mismanagement, loneliness, intoxication, self-doubt.
But I love the family friends whom back then I hardly knew but graciously let me stay at their place for that loose year. And I love central Oregon, love the west, the mountains, airy space, the desert that drew me there. I love that I was so delightfully dumb to drive off to the west with truly no plans for the future, all because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
And I love that me, the dumb, immature, Economist-reading National Honor Society member who had never consumed the entirety of an alcoholic beverage or tobacco product or illegal substance in all of high school. The me who didn’t want to go to college right away but instead wanted to be an adult, with a job and everything that comes with that, in a place far away that seemed awesome because of its distance from home. The me who thought that because she was 18, she was an adult. The me who drove past the entrance of the Ohio Turnpike every day of her senior year and knew that one day soon, after the end of the years of inanity that comprised high school, she’d get to signal right and steer toward the westbound gates and onto I-80/90 West. The me that in fact did signal right and steer toward the westbound gates of the Turnpike, and didn’t stop for 2,300 miles.
Today, I’m giving up a career trajectory in an major, (self-)important city that isn’t far from where my family currently lives to move across the country again because the dude I’ve been dating got a job in a relatively small, isolated city from where there’s a good chance we’ll be moving in a few years. On paper this looks bananas.
In my heart? The 18-year-old girl, young as shit, who drove west by herself without so much as a plan other than to get as far away from Ohio as she could, would not look at the 28-year-old version of herself and be very excited about the future. 28-year-old me currently pays too high of rent, spends too much time sweating in a hot subway car on the way to a job with asinine office politics and sad desk salads, sits in too much traffic just to go to Target or the grocery store, and doesn’t write anywhere near as much as she thought she would. 18-year-old me would likely feel disappointed in her future self.
But only for a minute. The 18-year-old me would then expect 28-year-old me to be making her next move. To get the hell out of there, and soon.
So Boise it is, to join the person I love, to an area not unlike Central Oregon, where I had arrived 10 years ago. Maybe we’ll relocate somewhere new for another job opportunity; maybe we’ll stay in southwest Idaho and dive into the quirks of that region. Maybe some circumstances will happen upon us that make it difficult to pick up and go somewhere else at the drop of a hat (read: children. Bleh.). I have no idea. But this choice is the right one for me, right now.
Professional fulfillment is important, and money is important, and comfort is important. I have those things in DC. And you, reader, might love DC or another large city, and want to live there forever; I’d recommend you do that. But if you want to be with your SO even if you’re not formally committed, do that. If you just want to make a change, do that. If you want to get away from your family, do that, and if you want to move closer to your family, do that. If you want to stay where you are and embrace the life you have with the wonderful, complicated circumstances upon you, do that.
It’s your decision to make. In whatever you do, people will judge, as hinted at the start of this post. You will doubt yourself.
But think about what you want. Think about what the dumb, immature version of you would want.
What feels right? What can you do right now that reasonably puts you close to whatever it is that feels right? Do that. That’s what I’m doing.
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