Change is scary, sure. That’s what everyone says. And while change can happy like accepting a job offer for your dream job, change can also be sad because it means, inevitably, leaving something (or a lot of things) behind.
I’ve spent my first month in Pittsburgh with a really dark cloud over my head. I thought I was working to adjust to my new life – and I was making an effort – but I was mostly mourning the loss of my old life, the things I’d left behind. Without realizing it, I was trying to figure out how to make life in Pittsburgh look and feel like life in Denver instead of adapting to this new life in front of me.
I wanted back all the things I lost in the move: I wanted free time with my husband. I wanted an office full of coworkers I adored. I wanted my friends who were ready to trail run, rock climb or meet for dinner. I wanted to not think about every single penny I was spending. I wanted to know where to camp and how to get places. I wanted not to get lost EVERY SINGLE TIME I drive. I wanted early morning climbing at an amazing climbing gym. I wanted happy hours with great friends who know the all the backstories and just get me. I wanted good beer.
(I still want those things.)
These past 4 weeks, I’ve cried a lot of tears in frustration and sadness because, surprise! Those things are not part of my life right now, no matter how much I miss them.
On Sunday, after a particularly sad morning and after dropping Alex off at dinner for school, I turned on This American Life on my local NPR station on my drive home. The episode centered around the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, 10 years after Katrina, and I tuned in during an interview with a woman, Jean Gibson, who survived the storm and has since rebuilt her life. When she responded to a question about her new life, tears streamed down my face as it felt like she was speaking from my heart.
Interviewer: And so it’s like, yeah, you have a new life. But it looks like a good life. Is it a good life?
Jean Gibson: Looks are deceiving. You make do with what you have and you try every day to get that other life back. Yes, every day. Every, every day. But it’s not coming back. But that’s okay, tomorrow coming. I’m going to be able to get some little piece of it. And then tomorrow come, and it doesn’t come back.
Piecing together my life in Pittsburgh to mirror my Denver life will never be the answer. That life is never coming back. And that’s okay!
If Alex and I move back to Denver in 2 or 10 years, we will be different people with a different life. If we moved back right now (or had never left), many of our close friends also moved away this summer so we’d still be facing a new reality and rebuilding community.
The best I can do now is remember favorite moments and celebrate everything I learned and became while living in Denver. It just clicked on Sunday night; I’m acknowledging that, truly, that chapter is over and as sad as I am to have left it behind, I have a choice: I can keep spending my days feeling sorry for myself or I can bring light in and cherish what WAS and embrace what IS.
So on this first day of September and after celebrating the beginning of a new year of marriage yesterday, it feels like a fresh start, a breath of fresh air. For the first time in 4 weeks, I feel happy, truly happy. I’ve sent my little rain cloud packing and, while there will probably still be tears on occasion, I know there will be far fewer. I will find great people to call friends and I will learn things about this city that I will come to love.
It’s going to be alright here in Pittsburgh; it won’t be anything like the past 6 years of my life but there’s bound to be a lot of great stuff that happens while I’m here and I’m ready to be part of it.