AFTER SEVEN YEARS
October 23, 2009
Going to Fresno
A couple of months back, my family and I drove over to eastern Washington to visit my brother-in-law for his son's first birthday celebration. My wife's family from California came up, and we were all crammed into a house and hanging out for the weekend. Being an only child, I've never quite gotten used to all the extended family nearby -- between the noise and the expectation of constant conversation, my instinct is generally to find some quiet solace.
What I did observe on that trip, however, is that my three daughters thrive in the noise, and in all the activity, and with having relatives nearby who want nothing more than to spend hours playing with them and talking with them and hugging them. I didn't grow up this way, so I never valued having relatives nearby. It wasn't something I ever craved or envied in others; I simply had no concept of it. On that visit to eastern Washington, it crossed my mind that children need their grandparents and aunts and uncles. In that moment, having relatives nearby became very valuable to me.
In Olympia, our little family has been something of an island - no available relatives that can come over in a moment's notice, no family to come over and take care of the kids if my wife and I are sick with the SWINE flu. We've gone seven years without a large emotional safety net for our children, and while we've survived for this long without it, we knew from that trip that if we had the chance to live within a larger family structure -- a tribe -- we should take that opportunity.
On the Sunday before we headed back home, I checked my employer's external website to see if there were any jobs available in the California area. As far as I knew, the only offices that had suitable jobs were in the Bakersfield and coastal area, which was too far away from the in-laws to be useful. To my surprise, there was a job opening within half an hour of where my in-laws live, and the job happened to be a position that my current job prepared me for. On Monday, I checked the internal website and saw that the job was no longer available, so I called the California office to see if there was a chance to squeeze in a request for consideration. They accepted the request, and after a video-conference interview and weeks of waiting (there were more than 30 applicants for the job), it was announced yesterday that I was selected for the job. My start-date in Fresno will be November 30th.
In four weeks, we will begin our trek down to California, packing a 3-bedroom house (and full garage!) worth of belongings into a U-Haul or POD with the plans to occupy space with the in-laws for a little while, and then to buy a house in the area that makes sense for the size of our family. One benefit of the downturn of the economy is that having rock-solid job security (I have a lot of faith in my employer) in an area where many homes have gone into foreclosure means that I can pick up a house off the auction block for less than the cost to build it. This might also be a good time to consider investing in some property.
This will be a big change. My stomach has been in knots just thinking about this possibility, and now that it's finally here, the real stress of packing and closing accounts and shutting of utilities and all that has begun. This is going to be a hectic four weeks.
To all my friends in Olympia, thanks so much for everything. Each one of you has been valuable to me, and especially those who have been able to take the time to really be a part of our family. I pray that God fills the void we leave behind with good memories and an increase in blessings. Your presence will be missed.