My husband and I moved twice in a span of 6 months… cross country, no less. It was SO exhausting and emotional and exciting and stressful, and I may or may not have cried when “someone” (hint: it wasn’t me) forgot to tape the bottom of one of the boxes during one of these moves, sending packing peanuts and our stuff everywhere – after having packed for a solid straight 6 hours – meanwhile, Cleo continued to run and slide through the peanuts, sending them all over our living room and down the hall. *sigh* Yes, I can laugh about it now. But let’s start at the beginning…
One of the (many) things I love about Christian is his spontaneous (aka: crazy awesome) personality. He has a love for adventure, can at times make impulsive decisions, and has a frequent desire for change – and I love it all. It’s funny that I would be attracted to all of this, considering I am very much Type-A, organized planner, needs-to-know-what-we’re-doing kinda gal. BUT – as much as I am this way, I am also a dreamer at heart, and I love frequent change in certain areas of my life. In fact, I often crave change. While X and I already had quite a few little adventures together during our dating time, we both craved something so much bigger, together. After lots of dreaming and a ton of late night discussions, it was decided: we were moving to Los Angeles, CA.
Once we’d decided we were going to move, things just pretty much fell into place. We were both able to get out of our current leases, Christian was already going to have work in LA (one of the biggest reasons we chose that location, other than a love for CA in general), I’d found what I thought would be my job there, and we quickly found an apartment to live in. We’d decided to pack everything ourselves, drive our own moving truck (while pulling Christian’s car behind us), and bring Oooj along for the loooong ride. Cleo, being the Queen that she is, would stay with my parents for a few weeks and then fly to LA to meet us (this is back when Pet Airlines was still in business.) (More on that disaster later.)
Telling our friends and family was by far the hardest part. One of Christian’s brothers and his wife threw us a huge goodbye party. It was the saddest happiest party that was ever thrown in the history of goodbye parties. (My friend Natalie had one too many drinks and then bawled her eyes out in front of everybody at the thought of us leaving, which only made me bawl my eyes out in front of everybody too.) (Hey, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, and my best friend can too.) We said goodbye to Chicago by taking our last jogs alongside the water, visiting our favorite restaurants, and I said goodbye to my beloved studio apartment. It was all so bittersweet, but while my heart ached to be saying farewell for now, my heart was also excited for this new adventure.
Within 6 months of us having decided on this move, we were as ready as we could’ve been for the long 4 day drive to California. With everything packed and the last of our goodbyes to family, we. were. off.
Oooj was amazing in the car, super happy to be in his little bed in-between us or on my lap. The only time we had issues was when we were driving through Arizona and drove through a hail storm. That pup had seen better days, poor thing.
Most of our hotel/staying experiences on this trip were great, all but one. It had been super late and the hotel/motel choices were slim pickins as we drove past exits. We finally decided on a well known hotel/motel brand, although I sure as heck had never seen one like this. There was fake grass for the “carpet” – IN the room. Long story short, I thought X was going to have a nervous breakdown, it was too late to go anywhere else, we slept in our clothes, on top of the sheets, and were up and outta there bright and early the next morning.
Another dicey moment was when we were driving through the Arizona desert and our moving truck began to make funny noises. I kid you not- X and I didn’t say a word for literally an hour as we both silently prayed our truck wouldn’t overheat in the middle of nowhere. (Thankfully, we survived.) But aside from the grass motel, the hail storm, the almost breaking down, and a serious case of Car Face (oh yeah, that’s real), the drive really was so pretty. We’d go a long ways in silence, just looking out the window at the road before us and the beautiful landscape surrounding us. We had fun on our drive together; we even celebrated X’s bday one morning at LaQuinta Inn, eating dry donuts and luke-warm coffee. (Do I know how to treat my man for his special day or what?!)
We finally got to LA, Cleo joined us shortly after, and we sure enjoyed the first month exploring our new state and feeling like a couple of tourists. We frequented the beach, lots of restaurants, did lots of hiking, saw all of the LA sights to see, and then back to the beach again and again and again.
We had so many fun and funny moments, like the time our Producer friend Peter recorded the tambourine in our bathroom, and time spent in the studio in Malibu. And more funny moments like the time when X drew a mustache on his face, just to make me laugh, only to realize moments later it was permanent marker.
And while I’d love to tell you we lived happily ever after, that’s just not how it went down. I could write post after post about our time there, and perhaps I’ll share some of those stories & details at a later time, but for now I can tell you this: We did not love LA and LA did not love us back. That job I was banking on when we got there? It fell through. It was the first time in my life I didn’t have a job (and needed one). My days were quickly spent searching for something (and by this I mean waking up every morning at 3:30 or 4am to job hunt, but also because I was so stressed I couldn’t sleep.) X spent many days all the way in Malibu working at the studio – far from where we lived in Studio City/The Valley, and the groups of friends I’d imagined us making – we had a hard time finding people “like us.” (We did find a few!) We sure tried our absolute hardest to make the best of it all, and we certainly had our good days, but we just couldn’t find “our LA groove”. We spent most of our time together hiking, giving each other pep talks, praying to God that He would direct us in the right way. More trips were made to the beach but the time we spent there was pretty quiet now. I think we were trying to convince ourselves that we could still make this new home work. Neither of us wanted to state the obvious yet: we were so not thrilled to be here.
As a couple, this chapter of ours, was – to date – the hardest time we ever experienced together. There were moments we both had to come to terms with reality, which also meant moving on from some life-long dreams – for both of us. It meant remembering what was really important in our lives- each other and family – not jobs and “success.” Five and a half months had gone by and we ended up having a serious and tough conversation after a particularly rough day… it truly was a “come to Jesus moment.” And while it may have been a hard conversation to work through, the actual decision was a no-brainer. On a rainy afternoon in late November, after lots and lots of tears, it was decided: we were moving back to Chicago.
I was on a mission those next few weeks, let me tell ya. I was ready to get the hell outta dodge, and as soon as possible. We decided it was going to be far less stressful to just pay a moving company to move our stuff so our plan (you can start laughing now) was to: box up our own things (enter: untaped box with packing peanuts flying everywhere after 6 hours of packing. Yeah, that happened in this part of the story.) and have a moving company move all of our things back to Chicago, we would get both Oooj and Cleo their own Pet Airways plane tickets home, get ourselves airline tickets home, and then get a separate moving company to move X’s car home. But that’s not how it worked out…
After days of searching, we chose a moving company to pick up our boxes. Check. X’s car was the first thing to be picked up and shipped home. Check. Two days later, the babes were to board their plane and fly home. NO CHECK. Four days before we were to move out of our apartment and fly ourselves home, Pet Airways EMAILED me to let me know both the babes’ flights had been cancelled, with no option to reschedule. Why you ask? It took me literally hours (read: ALL DAY) to finally get a manager on the phone to tell me that basically, Pet Airways was no longer a company. Done. They were out of business. Even though they still had all of these pets booked to fly with them only days later. I was beside myself. I cried the hardest I’d cried in a long time. I was exhausted, stressed, and now super worried about how we were all going to get home. X kept trying to reassure me – we’d figure something out, that it would be okay. We called countless pet “transfer” services (aka: cars or vans) but didn’t feel comfortable with any of them. I called our airline to see if both Oooj and Cleo could fly with us- only to be told they couldn’t. So now, without our own car (remember: it had just been picked up and was currently en route to Chicago), and the movers on their way to move all of our things in just a few days, we made the decision to cancel our flight, rent a car, and drive – AGAIN – cross country, from California to Chicago, this time with both Oooj and Cleo with us.
Our drive from California was far less stressful than the one there. There were no creepy grass motels, no overheating vehicle (we took the northern route home), and no hail storms. The babes were so, so good- they stayed in the back seat of our rented SUV and seriously snuggled the entire time, I couldn’t believe how well they traveled. X and I had the best road trip on this drive home. We laughed, made fun of LA and how horrible it was (ha), and talked about all of the things we couldn’t wait to do once we were back in Chicago.
We were home just a few days before Christmas, spent our first night back in Chicago blissfully happy, and then both woke up the next morning with the stomach flu. I can’t tell you how ready I was to ring in the new year and say goodbye to 2011, CANNOT TELL YOU!
While this chapter in our story sure was a stressful one, it was also a really important one. It was a “make it or break it” moment in our relationship. It was a “if we can get through this, we can get through anything” realization. It was a growing up time for us- a time to choose each other, instead of selfish decisions. We’d had countless nights that were incredibly hard and confusing and unbelievably stressful – moments I just wanted to throw in the towel, and I’m sure moments he felt the same. But we didn’t. Instead, we chose to keep holding on, together. Did we get our adventure? Ohhh, you betcha. (Most expensive adventure ever.) But more than just an adventure, we learned a few really important things: 1.) love will always prevail if you both choose it, and 2.) always, always make sure the bottom of the box is taped before you start to move it.
Check back next Thursday for the “final” chapter: Wedding
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