Think

Making the Move: Part Two of Three

Stephanie Kuehnert

A year ago I told my therapist about my long-lived dream to move to Seattle. She asked, simply, “Why does it have to be a dream? Why can’t you just go?” I recited my usual litany of excuses—How would I sell our house? Where would I find work? What was I even qualified to do?—but she shrugged them all off. “Just go,” she insisted, “and trust that it will all work out because you want it to.”

seattle

            This was a fucking revelation to me. After all, wasn’t I in therapy to learn how to trust in myself? In others? To learn how relinquish control? Stunned, I called my mom and said, “Liz told me I could just go to Seattle. And you know what? I think I can.”

            Some things did simply work out like Liz said they would: A couple of college friends turned out to be the perfect renters for our house. Other things were more challenging, like finding a place to rent in Seattle. But my husband and I set a date to move, and we planned a house-hunting trip for one month beforehand. Since I was putting the final touches on a novel, I let him handle the Craigslist search. Trusting someone else for the key part of this move (how could he be as nitpicky as I am?) was a major step for me.

On our arrival to Seattle we discovered how competitive the real estate market was. What we thought were personal appointments were actually open houses. We saw the same couples at every place. We’d smile awkwardly at one another, but on the inside, the calm faith that this would “all work out because I wanted it to” was melting like ice cream in the sun.

Instead of panicking, my husband and I went out for drinks to discuss worst-case scenarios: an apartment instead of a house; or worse, an icky, bland corporate apartment; or absolute worst, our stuff would go in storage and we’d move into one of those extend-a-stay motel/apartments and waste a ton of money. “This is going to happen no matter what, though,” I told Scott repeatedly. Then my worry would squeak through and I’d add, “Right?”

“Right,” he promised.

My trust in my dream, and especially in my partner, eventually paid off. We did end up with an apartment, but it was bigger than any of the houses we had seen, and had a gorgeous mountain view.

After that initial ordeal, I felt like I could get through anything. But of course there was the next big test: the relocation of our stuff. We made arrangements for a container move. This was my job. I did the research, worked out the nightmare logistics (two containers, but they had to come one at a time), and asked our neighbors if we could store the sixteen-foot monstrosities in their driveway. The first container arrived the same day our brand-new GPS was stolen from the car because I’d left the door unlocked. So while I was beating myself up for my own carelessness, Container Delivery Guy casually told us there was no way he could get into the driveway without blocking traffic—a detail overlooked by the moving company representative, despite repeated assurance that everything would be fine.

Scott looked at me the same way I’d seen my friends look at their kids just before a tantrum. “Please,” he begged. “Just go inside and let me handle this.”

I didn’t want to be a toddler. I didn’t want this anxiety to give way to the tantrum that Scott saw coming. I wanted to keep my composure, some semblance of control of a situation that had spun out of my hands despite my meticulous planning. So I went inside. I called my mom. I texted the friend who best understands my emotional states. I took a deep breath. But when I went back outside to see that Container Delivery Guy was still solution-less and utterly unsympathetic to the fact that I WAS MOVING ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN ONE WEEK, I burst into tears.

I realized something right there, in the midst of my tears: accepting that I couldn’t control everything did not have to mean pretending that I wasn’t upset when things got hard. Bottling up my feelings wasn’t any healthier than totally freaking. So, I went back inside and cried my heart out while Scott handled it, working with the police to direct traffic so the container could be put in place.

Ten days later we were driving across the I-90 bridge over Lake Washington into Seattle. Blue waters glittered on either side of us, while just ahead, we could see the tunnel leading us to the city where the sun shone upon on the iconic Space Needle. The iPod shuffled; “You Know You’re Right” by Nirvana came on. The song is sad and resigned, but in that instant, the title affirmed this journey. I’d trusted in my dream, my partner, and most importantly, in myself. I knew that this move would be the ultimate emotional challenge for me. It would mean relinquishing control and learning faith. But the ultimate challenge came with the ultimate reward: I’d never felt so proud, not even when I published my first book, as I did the moment I silently told myself, I’m home.

About the author

Stephanie Kuehnert

Stephanie Kuehnert

Stephanie Kuehnert was raised as a health-conscious feminist. She went vegetarian at 13 and vegan at 17. She hated gym class, but learned to enjoy working out in her late 20s when she realized how fun and empowering it can be to punch and kick imaginary opponents. She also writes for Rookie (rookiemag.com), an online magazine for teenage girls, and has published two novels, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia. Find out more about her writing at stephaniekuehnert.com.

Leave a Comment