Where do we want to put down roots?

By Erica

I remember what it felt like to be 17. I was itching to leave my bubble and head to the “East Coast.” I wanted to cut my teeth on a big city. I wanted a passport covered in ink. I wanted to be where things of consequence happened.

And so, I headed to Washington, DC. I got a degree in international affairs, interned on the Hill, studied abroad, and met my future husband. After graduation, I traveled more, got a master’s degree, and sharpened my professional skills to please even the most discerning of bosses. Today, I enjoy working for myself, seeing friends, and making a home for my husband and baby daughter in our small but cozy rental house.

Life in this part of the world has and continues to be good to us. Which is why it feels so strange to be taking this next year to explore what it would look like to take it all down.

I entered parenthood and the coronavirus pandemic at roughly the same time, so I will never be able to fully attribute my feelings one way or the other, but over the course of the past two years, I have been feeling like maybe it is time for a change, one that brings me closer to my family in Oregon.

I am privileged to have the opportunity to live life with intention and think about what this next chapter might hold. But with this freedom come some tricky questions.

To start, how does one know when to walk away from a good thing? Are we placing the roads not yet taken on a pedestal? Will it always feel like the grass is greener elsewhere?

Second, as the world becomes increasingly unstable, will my decision help or hinder future generations of my family? Am I setting them up for success by moving to a beautiful part of the country or am I putting them in the path of wildfires and political unrest? These kinds of questions weigh heavily on my mind as war and climate change continue to drive headlines.

Third, like the expression says, “wherever you go, there you are.” Ultimately, Dale and I know that moving somewhere new is not a shortcut to building a meaningful life. Our thoughts, delusions, and attachments will follow us wherever we go. We will encounter suffering in our lives whether we live on the east coast or west coast. By the same token, we also know that happiness, connection, and fulfillment can be cultivated anywhere as well.

Our goal moving forward, therefore, will be to look honestly at what is driving our decisions. If we are moving somewhere new so that we may build a life that aligns with our values, that feels like a good thing. If we are simply retreating from our challenges or chasing an Instagram mirage, well we are likely in for some disappointment.

Much introspection and exploration await. And it all starts with a trip to the Portland area next week. We will be on the ground for about a week visiting family and poking around different neighborhoods to see if we can picture ourselves there. In the meantime, we will be praying to the toddler gods for a smooth flight and to the gods of discernment for their assistance on the choices that lie ahead.