A couple of months ago, one of my direct reports pulled me aside and told me that she and her husband wanted to move to Alabama. “Do you want to know if you can keep your job?” I asked knowing the worries of relocating to another part of the country. “Yes,” she said. “I’d like to stay on my team.” I could tell she was nervous about telling me, but all I could think of was the excitement and opportunity during a relocation. I would never get in the way of that kind of journey.
At the time, my friend Alayne was packing her stuff into a truck to move from Houston to Memphis. This had been a year long journey to find the right job with the right organization to get her out of her status quo. The reasons were many, but the job would be the catalyst. Many weekends we spent hours on FaceTime as she slowly packed up her kitchen, sold her furniture and fretted desperately about finding a job. She wanted the Universe to know she was ready, so her house was packed months before the dove of change landed on her front doorstep.
My friend Michael had just told me he was moving to New York for an opportunity in his current company. And Alisa had texted me that she and her husband were moving to Knoxville for his new job. More importantly they were seeking a new adventure. For Michael this was one more move in a long line of relocations, but for Alisa, this would be a first. And for my employee, Deb, it was somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it, moving cross country is a landmark event.
I have to say I’m a little jealous. No, that’s not right. I’m a lot jealous. I’m here and don’t plan on going anywhere fast. But I love the energy and excitement associated with a change of place. It’s a monumental hassle, but it is the chance of a lifetime to set yourself up to chase a dream.
I visualize a move like a seesaw. In the beginning, I am sitting on the ground on one side looking up at where I want to go. It’s heavy. I’m not moving anywhere until I get stuff packed up and set in motion. The whole move is a high-speed train that cannot be stopped for lack of money, obstacles in selling or buying homes or personal drama. Once the decision is made, the train wheels roll. Eventually all the good-byes are said, the boxes are packed and taped, the truck is loaded, and it’s time to seesaw to the other side.
I love the middle part the best. There is nothing to do but drive – or fly if you are lucky enough to have a company ship your car. This one way trip is exhilarating as you close the door on one life and head in the direction of another. I like driving because it’s a physical representation of all the miles it takes to get there. I did fly once, and I felt like I didn’t know how I got there. Driving helps me find my bearings.
When the seesaw touches down on the other side, that train just keeps on going. I have to breathe to get through what will one day soon be the new normal. Untaping the boxes I literally just taped and setting my things in my new place is a reminder that although I am still the same person with all the same baggage, my life has just been rearranged. And often times things just don’t fit.
I can’t wait to see the lives my friends will build in the next year or two. They will grieve the old and greet the new. There will be tears and hardships and newfound joy. They will doubt their decision and get lost going to the grocery store. At other times they will feel a rush of empowerment that they have accepted a challenge and conquered fear. And at some point, they will feel like this strange new place is home.
I am still building my life here although it’s felt like home for awhile. A part of me hungers for the excitement of another journey, but I know it’s not my time. When it is time, I will know it, and the opportunity will present itself. For now, I will play the role of supporter, dry tears, and offer encouragement and assurances that this, too, shall pass. And as I write down new addresses for my friends, I know that one day they will do the same for me. I know me. My train may be stopped at the station, but it is built to travel.
Bon Voyage my friends. Welcome Home.