One year ago today, I left the kids with my mom and moved seven hours north to start a new job. They would join me at Christmas, but until then, it was up to me to prepare a new life in a new state.
When I started job hunting in the summer of 2011, Wisconsin wasn’t on my radar. I had vacationed there when I was very young. As an adult, I had driven through, but I had never BEEN there and I certainly never thought about LIVING there. A head hunter convinced me that it wasn’t too far from Chicago so I should consider the southeast part of the state. Why not, I thought. I didn’t have anything to lose.
When the plane landed in Milwaukee for my first interview, I felt a sudden and overwhelming sense of calm. I was at peace. Everything that was happening with my marriage, all the financial trouble we were in, having to find a job – it all faded away. I felt like I was home… And the plane was still taxi-ing to the runway.
I was picked up from the airport and driven to a trendy hotel on the outskirts of downtown. I couldn’t stop smiling. I looked out the windows with eager anticipation. I wanted to take it all in. Breathe it in. Absorb it. It felt good, this unfamiliar place. It felt RIGHT.
I’ve only had that sense of peace and feeling of home one other time in my life – when I visited the college that would become my alma mater. My dad and I had just driven through the front entrance on our way to admissions when I said, “Dad, this is where I’m going to school.” He thought I was crazy. We weren’t out of the car yet, he said. We haven’t talked to anyone. We don’t even know what programs they offer, let alone financial aid packages… Yet, every college and university was measured against that school. There was no contest. To this day, as I participate on the college’s alumni board of directors, campus is very comfortable to me.
In the last 365 days, I haven’t regretted the decision to move to Wisconsin. It still feels good; it still feels right. Even after all the drama and sadness of the last 10 months, I’m confident that this is where I’m meant to be right now. Even when I knew the job wasn’t working out and I needed to move on, I never considered leaving.
This is home. We are home.