To Move or Not To Move

 photo by Hunter Folsom

photo by Hunter Folsom

By: Kendi Wolever

I moved to Washington state when I was 19 years old. It was beautiful and exciting and freeing and I had never loved mountains or trees or rivers or fish or outdoor markets the way I came to love them then. Also, it was the year that Taylor Swift’s album Speak Now came out. 

Okay, I know that sounds super corny to remember, but it’s because my place of work was selling her CD at the time and I thought to myself, “oh how humorously 19-year-old of me to buy this album right now.” So I did. 

You know those randomly unforgettable points of time in your life? The moments during which you think, “I won’t forget this for a long time.” Well, I had one of these moments one evening while I was driving home from my favorite market, listening to track nine from Taylor Swift’s Speak Now. Track nine is entitled Enchanted, and while I was driving with this fluffy song was playing in the background, I felt right. I felt really, really right. Like I was in the place I was supposed to be and as if I was, in fact, Enchanted to meet this new phase of life. 

I fell in love with this place. I was so content.

I moved back home to Oklahoma after about a year spent in Washington, and over the last six years in Oklahoma, I’ve romanticized about the day that I would pack up all of my things and go back. I’ve lived in three cities since I left the Pacific Northwest, formed countless lifelong relationships, and worked like crazy to become a successful working woman. All the while, dreaming about the sunsets over the Puget Sound.

Fate would have it that the opportunity has finally arrived. I am free of all obligations as far as housing goes. My job contract in this location has expired. I have the luxury of choosing any place on the map to plant myself. So, I flew to Seattle last month to scope it out. I looked at housing and I met with multiple people in leadership with the company I work for — and every single meeting went better than I could have ever hoped for and I felt like Seattle was welcoming me with open arms. 

Seattle was for me, I decided, and I would be living there by summertime.

My family and friends have all been extremely supportive of my decision and as I have worked relentlessly to plan all the details of my next adventure, I have also spent as much time with them as possible. Recently, I spent time at a park with my little brother, his girlfriend, and my two nieces, Madison and Chesney. I sat on a swing as I watched my brother play with the girls. They were running and laughing and the sun was beating down on their little faces, blushed with pink. Before it was time to go, Madison climbed one last set of steps to the slide. She threw herself down with force, and with her fists powered high in the air she slid and yelled, “I’m the Queen of the Universe!”

A couple of weeks ago I went on a long car ride with my sister-in-law. It was nighttime and the kids were sitting sleepily in the backseat. I reached my arm back to touch Liam’s lap and looked into his little eyes as he started gently scratching my arm in the most endearing way. 

In that same instant — no, I’m not joking — Enchanted by Taylor Swift came on the radio. 

And a flood of emotion instantly came over me as I remembered that evening drive so long ago when everything felt perfect. Hearing that song and remembering that feeling of contentment, I realized: this is even more perfect.

Frantically, I began laying out all of the pros of living in Washington vs. all of the cons of leaving Oklahoma. I couldn’t believe I was second guessing this opportunity I’d been so-long yearning for. I considered the mountains and trees and rivers, and my heart started to break as I realized I was letting it all go.

Because then, I considered the eight nieces and nephews I have. I considered how I can be around for every single birthday. How I can be there to cheer them on as they score in their next soccer game. How I’ll never have to notice how many feet they’ve grown because I’ll be there to watch the inches. I considered how fragile my grandparents are becoming and how I can laugh and talk over dinner in their home every week. I considered how present I can be to embrace my baby brother who just started an amazing journey of restoration.

I considered how much I’ll miss an Oklahoma sunset, and how I don’t have to be embarrassed to like country music, and how I can go into any Starbucks in Oklahoma and know half of the people behind the counter. I’ll miss how every time I drive into my hometown, I pass the gazebo where I used to dance at night with the love of my life.

I considered all of these things and I finally made the heartbreaking decision to not move. Heartbreaking because I’m saying goodbye for now to an old friend. Has the opportunity for me to move back to my dream destination passed? I don’t know the answer to that. It could just be a, “see you later.” 

Regardless, the lesson I’m learning is that every once in a while, life opens a multitude of doors. And sometimes the best decision isn’t always the most obvious one. I did my considering, and I decided that the heartbreak I would experience through closing the Pacific Northwest door was worth it. I can rest, knowing that when my niece Madison grows up and experiences her first heartbreak, I will be there. 

I’ll be there with my arms wrapped so tightly around her, and I’ll whisper to her, “you are the Queen of the Universe.”