Moving 2.0

I couldn’t think about what to write for this post.

This is my tenth (!!) week of writing – it feels important.

Then I remembered, oh right – we’re buying a house.

Let me say that again.

We. Are. Buying. A. House.

I know. It sounds insane. It sounds crazy. Wait, what!? Why? How? Haven’t you been mad this whole time about moving to a new place and now all of a sudden you’re buying a house in said new place!?

Let me explain.

The thought of buying a house started off as a joke. We weren’t thrilled with the apartment, rent is super inflated, and it is damn near impossible to find an affordable apartment that will allow not one, not two, but three furry animals to move into it with their humans.

So when it was clear that the apartment was not our “forever” home, [REDACTED] did what he generally does when inspiration strikes and he started researching new apartments. Then, [REDACTED] did what he also does and took his research a step further.

I love this man, but while I daydream and Pinterest-dream home images, he tallies up facts and makes spreadsheets. It’s part “balance-each-other-out” and part “drive-each-other-insane.” Did I mention that I love him?

I forget when it stopped being a joke. Was it after we got pre-approved for a mortgage or before? Who really knows.

One night, [REDACTED] and I were getting drinks with some of his law school friends. I was tired and a little buzzed and I thought to myself “I think we’re going to buy a house.” In that same moment, [REDACTED] and I locked eyes and he said “I think we’re going to buy a house.”

It was settled. Almost.

While we were feeling pretty sure of our intention to buy rather than continue to rent, [REDACTED] and I did what any adult couple looking to buy a house would do and we called our parents.

[REDACTED]’s mom is a real estate agent, so she knows a lot about the process of buying a house. His dad is an electrician, so he knows a lot about what to look for when viewing a house.

My parents aren’t in real estate or home improvement, but I love them and usually look for them to weigh in before I make a huge decision – like buying a house.

When [REDACTED] and I thought about why we wanted to buy a house, our reasoning went something like this:

Reason 1: We are nesters and do small improvement projects on our rental units anyways – why not put that energy towards something more permanent?

Reason 2: We want to love where we live and not have our happiness affected by noise bleed from neighbors/a busy street

Reason 3: The cost of a mortgage + insurance + taxes was less than our rent.

Let me say that again.

According to every calculator we found, our total monthly payment for our mortgage, home insurance, and taxes came out to less money than paying rent to a landlord. Plus, that money would be an investment towards our future rather than money disappearing into someone else’s pocket every month.

But wait, you might be saying, what about a down payment?

Good question.

Money is complicated and I will write a whole other post about it some other time.

The quick answer is this: my grandmother left me some money when she passed away, the rest of the down payment is coming from my entire life savings.

I am buying [REDACTED] a house.

Does anyone else think that’s a funny joke?

I do.

I kept expecting our respective parents to shoot down the idea of [REDACTED] and I buying a house. We’re so young! We just moved! We don’t know where we’ll be in five years! Buying a house sounds so permanent, and aside from the three years [REDACTED] will be in law school, nothing in life feels very predictable right now.

When I posed my concerns to my parents, my mom pulled out a pen and did some quick math on a napkin “If you are paying rent every month for the next three years, that’s over $50,000 that you are losing.” $50,000 is a lot of money.

We don’t know where we’ll be in five years! “You can always rent it out if you move” my dad said. And that was pretty much that.

With our parents’ blessings, [REDACTED] and I started our house hunt.

Another reason that buying a home is so enticing right now is that I am craving something that feels solid, and totally ours. Law school feels “his.” The apartment isn’t “mine” or “his.” There aren’t a lot of other major life things to take stock of.

We saw 10-15 different homes over the course of about a month and a half.

The houses ranged from “Can we move in tomorrow?” to “Someone got murdered in this basement.”

(No one actually was murdered in any of the house we saw – to my knowledge.)

We knew we needed a place that would be an easy commute to/from work. [REDACTED] sometimes goes home for lunch and to walk our pup. Our time limit was 35 minutes by public transit. (For us, driving isn’t really an option.)

We knew we wanted a place that had a real guest bedroom where we could comfortably host visitors. (Our apartment’s “guest bedroom” boasts a moderately uncomfortable futon and doesn’t have room for much else.)

I dreamed of a galley kitchen, safe streets to walk our pup at any hour of the day, and space to host guests for dinner and board games.

[REDACTED] wished for a garage or off-the-street parking, a workshop space, and a fenced-in backyard.

Two weeks ago, we put in an offer on a house. It didn’t have everything we were hoping for, but it had enough of the things we were hoping for. It was a little higher than our ideal price, but we low-balled the offer since it had been on the market for some time.

The day we made our offer, another house popped up on the market.

The new house was a ten minute walk from a favorite dog park. It was in a quiet neighborhood. It had a galley kitchen. It checked all the boxes on our list. (No fenced-in yard, but there was a yard and [REDACTED] said he could build us a fence!)

The house was a little further from work/school than we hoped, but not by much.

This new house isn’t official – yet. Our offer was accepted, our inspection went smoothly, but it still has to be “appraised.”

Once that’s done, we can schedule our closing (the day we get the keys).

Nothing is set in stone. But this feels so good.

This time, I am really looking forward to the move.

I already have two boxes packed.

Throwing a Temper Tantrum

Before starting this blog, I promised myself that I would not write anything in the heat of the moment. I would allow time and hindsight to help shape my thoughts and put words to my feelings.

So far, that has worked well, but one thing I have noticed is that hindsight for each of these experiences has a certain rose-colored hue. In other words, the feelings in the moment hurt so much worse than they do after the fact.

While I’m still not fully settled in this new place, I feel that I owe it to my past self (and any future person who might be going through something similar in their lives) to throw a small temper tantrum. Because sometimes, life sucks.


I miss my friends. I miss being able to text someone to hang out on a Saturday casually and not feel like I’m bearing my heart just by reaching out. I miss thrifting with a person there to giggle at bizarre sweater styles and fall in love with the sequined blouse that is only $2.

I miss my job. I miss waking up every morning feeling excited to see my co-workers. I miss chatting about the kids in our classes who make us laugh or drive us crazy. I miss looking through costumes for the perfect thing to transform a nine-year-old into a strange old wizard. It still hurts to think of the place that I left and to know that I won’t be back for at least three years, maybe longer. I miss being on stage, and behind the scenes, and I miss being surrounded by creativity.

I miss familiar places. I miss the grocery store just down the street with a massive selection of canned Polish goods (which I never bought, but had a great time looking at!). I miss knowing intuitively which way is “north.”

I miss coming home to an apartment full of light and warmth, that already feels like home. I miss knowing where everything in the kitchen belongs.

I miss feeling in control of my life. Before law school, I had a purpose. I felt fulfilled. I thought that would be life for a while. I miss feeling certain of the next five years.

I’ve talked about this with some close friends on a weekend visit a week or so ago. I apologized for throwing a tantrum. They reassured me, “it’s ok, these feelings are understandable.” Sure.

It’s ok that things suck. It’s ok that I’m sad. It’s ok that I’m angry. It’s ok. I’ll live. None of this is fatal. It just sucks.

I feel like a two year old. Like my emotions are too big for my body, and I feel them so strongly I just want to throw myself on the ground and scream and cry and kick.

I was listening to a podcast about temper tantrums recently. One section was about a girl who was in agony over not being able to sit at the head of a round table. The recording followed her cries as she wallowed in her anger and frustration. Her screams rose to an agonized shriek followed by the solid thump of something thrown against the wall.

“This is the beginning of the end,” the doctor explained, “it takes a lot of energy to throw a tantrum, and you can hear she is starting to get tired and wind down.”

I can relate to that little girl. It has been exhausting to miss my old life. I am ready to stop comparing everything from then to everything now. After two months, I am starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, I’m at the beginning of the end of my temper tantrum.

Another thing that the doctor said in regards to temper tantrums has also stuck with me: “the best thing you can do is to ignore it.” He didn’t mean “ignore your problems.” This was in reference to a child screaming because broccoli isn’t yellow, or because they really want to cover themselves in peanut butter and they aren’t allowed to. Ignore the tantrums.

I try. I try to focus on the things that I am learning. I try to think about the new places I love. I take walks early in the morning to watch the sun rise over the lake.

I still miss our old apartment, but new people live there now. It isn’t our apartment any more. Even if we had stayed in the same city, we probably would have moved to a new apartment.

I still miss my friends, but I have a phone and my phone even has a camera. I can call the people I love. I can hear their voices. I can even schedule weekend trips to go and see them.

Even if we had stayed in the same city, my friends and I were busy. We didn’t see each other every day, and sometimes I called them to catch up.

I still miss my job. I don’t have a rational around this one yet. This is a tantrum I work really hard to ignore. To not think about.

All the inspirational quotes and TEDtalks say “find your passion” and “follow your dreams.” But what if you found your passion, and then you had to let your dream go?

What do you do after that?

I don’t know. I can’t look at the “after that” through rose colored-glasses. I can’t even think about it without my eyes tearing up.

I don’t want to cry.

I don’t want to be sad.

I don’t want to be angry.

I don’t want to miss things.

I don’t want to feel all of this.

It’s hard being a grown up.

It’s sucks.

I’m sorry for throwing a temper tantrum.

You can ignore it if you want to.

Finding Friends in New Places

A week of living in the apartment with crooked floors, cracked walls, and a seemingly endless supply of meandering fruit flies meant that I had a lot to complain about.

I was new to my job, and didn’t feel like I could let my guard down around my coworkers. I didn’t know any of our neighbors (I knew more than I wanted to about our upstairs neighbors, but that wasn’t conducive towards a budding friendship.)

Unlike [REDACTED], I didn’t have any place to go for built-in social interactions – like classes and student networking events.

[REDACTED] was my only companion. Not only did he have to serve as my husband and roommate, but I suddenly found myself looking to him to fill all of my needs for social interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I love [REDACTED]. But sometimes I need to complain to someone about [REDACTED] and how his stupid idea to go to law school forced me to abandon everything I know and love.

I needed friends.

Did I know how to make friends as an adult? No. The last really close friends I made were my suitemates in college.

I guess I could have spent hours at coffee shops, gone out to local events, or become a regular at the local dive bar. Maybe I could resort to my friend-finding strategies from kindergarten and go around asking strangers who looked vaguely interesting “will you be my friend?”

I felt like I was back in middle school. I went everywhere with uncertainty and a constant inner monologue of “Do they like me? Do they think I look cool? Do they think I’m funny?”

I did have one friend in this strange new place. A friend from college who grew up in the area and moved back a year or so ago. Their work schedule was pretty much the opposite of mine, but we were able to squeeze in lunch some afternoons. Counting my blessings, they were one.

But you can’t put all of your emotional eggs into just two people baskets.

One weekend, after a particularly long and lonely Sunday of laying on the couch and playing Lego Harry Potter on [REDACTED]’s X-Box, I vowed that in the next week I would find friends.

So, I turned to the internet. Specifically, I turned to Bumble’s friend-finding algorithm, Bumble Bff.

[REDACTED] and I got together just before dating apps really entered the scene and (from what I’ve heard) ruined everyone’s dating lives forever. I had never actually used a “dating” app, but I was desperate.

I created a profile, uploaded several photos of myself in various stages of my adult life, wrote a brief bio, and was off to the races.

I think Bumble BFF works pretty much the same as “regular” Bumble. You see a picture and swipe left or right depending on whether or not you think the person looks like someone you would want to (in my case) be friends with.

I am a fairly outgoing person, I generally like most people, so I didn’t set many standards at first while swiping.

I later learned that I could scroll down and see the person’s bio, which is where I could get a little more specific. If the person said they had a dog or were married, that was a bonus. If they said they liked reading, art, or theater, that was good too.

I shied away from anyone who implied an interest in being “more than friends,”, but otherwise swiped away on the mani/pedi & mimosa fans, the hikers, the bikers, the bakers, the candlestick makers, and all the other people who (I assumed) were just as lonely and desperate to find emotional support as I was.

By the middle of the week, I was surface-level chatting with fifteen or so female-identifying people (Bumble BFF only offered women to be my BFFs, go figure.)

After typing the same intros and basic questions fifteen different ways, I was convinced that Bumble – and probably all other dating apps – had been spawned in some unknown recess of hell. There was no way I would ever be friends with people I had to type out mini emails to regularly before building up enough rapport to awkwardly meet face to face and go over the same awful introductory conversations.

I sent one final message to all my potential new buds.

“I’m sick of Bumble. I’m going to host a movie night so we can skip the awkward messaging stage and just get together in real life. Send me your email address if you’re interested.”

I got a solid seven positive responses. Plenty of people for a relaxed gathering of strangers.

I chose “Lord of the Rings,” a childhood staple from when I was growing up. I figured it was just nerdy enough that it would weed out anyone “too cool.” I also figured that since it had been out for over a decade, most people would have seen it before so it would be ok if we wound up talking over the actors on screen.

I sent out my invite. Five out of the seven confirmed. Operation Friend Finder was a “go.”

It was only then that I realized what a crazy mistake it was to have invited people over to our crappy apartment.

What would people think of our crooked floors? Our inexplicable cadre of fruit flies? Would they hate the way we decorated? What if one of them was a murderer and I had just invited them into my home!?

Luckily, the excitement at having “friends” over for a movie night overpowered my nerves. [REDACTED] and I cleaned the apartment the best we could. We stocked up on snacks – including gluten free and vegan options. We even rented a Rug Doctor and cleaned our carpets AND our couch.

I sent out a final confirmation email, reminding everyone the when and where – and to take allergy meds if they were allergic to cats or dogs.

The night was fun. At times it felt a little awkward – I don’t think any of us would have been in the same room together without the power of Bumble.

I didn’t feel like any of the ladies I met would wind up being my “best friend,” but we talked a lot and we laughed a little. We didn’t wind up watching the movie. I had it on in the background, mostly just to follow through on my promise of a “movie night.” We did just talk, and that was nice.

At the end of the night, we exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet up again.

Meeting new people is easy (we do it every day) but turning those new contacts into friends is not.

Some things I have learned from my quest for friendship:

Get offline.

Gather and bring people together.

Give it your all.

Those are things I am looking forward to doing with friends when I make them.

Until then, I’m keeping in touch with old friends over the internet, via phone calls, and texting. I’m reaching out when I can, and responding when I remember to.

It is hard to make new friends and it is hard to keep in touch with old friends.

[REDACTED] and I have been here for almost two months now.

As much as I have left behind, and as many people and places that I miss from before we moved, there are bright spots in our new place.

There is a breakfast spot here with the best scones I have ever eaten.

I get to watch the sun rise over the beautiful lake on my morning walks with our pup.

This morning, I checked out an electric bike from a charging station near our apartment and got to work in fifteen minutes.

I still miss my our old home.

I miss my friends.

I miss my old job.

Sometimes the “missing” feels bigger than the “got.”

It took some time, but I did make a new friend.

It is reassuring that it only took two months. That isn’t very long.

It felt long.

Then again, we have a lot longer to go before law school is over.

The Apartment

Even with months to go before the move, [REDACTED] was firm on needing to find a place to live.

My calendar didn’t have more than a few hours of space let alone a full day to make the drive up, see four or five places, and then drive home. [REDACTED] could make the trip that Friday.

We looked over as many listings as we could, sharing them back and forth over email while I was at work.

[REDACTED] was right. The law school was part of a large University, and students had snatched up most liveable places over winter quarter for the coming fall. Most apartments were taken by February. It was April, and we were late to the game.

Out of all of the listings that were still available, [REDACTED] and I had some specifics that made most of them nonstarters. For one, it had to allow pets – three of them. One dog and two cats.

We wanted a place with two bedrooms, so that we could host guests when they came to visit.

We wanted a kitchen with space to cook and prepare meals.

We wanted a dining room, or at least an area to put our dining table and host dinners or board game nights with friends.

We wanted to be close to campus, so that [REDACTED] or I could get home to walk the dog over a lunch break if we needed to.

We also didn’t want to be too close to campus and have to deal with drunk college students all weekend.

By Friday, we had a list of seven places that looked like they had potential and firm plans for [REDACTED] to see five of them. So that morning, [REDACTED] headed north to find us a new home.

“Send me pictures! Call me after you see each one! Text me about all of them!”

While an angry buzz at the back of my mind told me that I should really be seeing these apartments too, I mostly felt a serene sense of calm. With [REDACTED] going to see the apartments, I could keep avoiding the reality of our impending move.

I got a few scattered photos throughout the day. [REDACTED] called and talked through one dud after another. One apartment had a kitchen that was too small. One apartment was a mess. One apartment didn’t have a second bedroom. One apartment would allow one dog and one cat, or two cats, but no dog.

The last spot [REDACTED] saw, the landlord was in a hurry—he had parked in a temporary spot with fifteen minutes before his car would have to be moved. I suppose that lack of attention to detail could have been a red flag, but it seemed like ordinary human error at the time.

[REDACTED] reported that the place had a large kitchen, a spacious bedroom, enough space for a living/dining room combo, a tiny guest room that could double as an office, and a 3-season porch. Most importantly, we could bring our little zoo.

The pictures looked cute, and [REDACTED] assured me it was the best place he had seen. We signed a lease.

Over the next few months, we planned the layout of our new place. [REDACTED] made a 3D rendering, estimating each room’s dimension against our furniture and the pictures that were still online.

Any furniture that wouldn’t fit in our new home we put up for sale, donated to a nearby second-hand shop, or left in the alley for some fortunate passerby.

I still hadn’t seen the apartment, but based on [REDACTED]’s rendering, I started to picture where my grandmother’s painting would hang on the wall, how we would decorate the bedroom, and what meals I would cook in the new, more spacious, kitchen.

The actual moving process was fantastic. Moving day fell mid-week and I had to work on the last of the month and the first of the month, which left [REDACTED] with all the heavy lifting (literally and figuratively).

While I was at work on the last day of July, [REDACTED] and two hired movers loaded everything into the rented truck and borrowed van. When I left for work on the first day of August, [REDACTED] and a small crew of incredible friends drove up to our new apartment and reversed the process.

Just as everything was feeling like it was falling perfectly into place, the time came for me to see the apartment.

[REDACTED] drove my parent’s van with the smaller remnants of our old apartment. I drove our tiny hatchback with our three anxious animals. The dog was squished into the backseat with her crate, a disassembled cat tree, and one recently cleaned cat litter box. The two cats in their crates were settled on the passenger seat next to me.

One cat yowled the entire two-and-a-half hour ride. The other peed in her carrier half-way through. Neither me nor the creatures were very happy campers leaving Chicago.

I was still hopeful, though. I was doing the thing that had terrified me so much over the past few months. I was facing my fears and conquering them!

Things were going to be ok!

Exhausted from the road, and with the inside of my nose still burning from the amonia, I finally parked on the street in front of our apartment.

It looked like a normal house from the outside. The stairs leading up to the front door were cracked in some places, and the plaster around the door was crumbling to reveal the red brick several inches beneath it, but it still had potential.

There were four doorbells to the left of the doorway. I briefly wondered how it was even possible to fit four separate apartments into what clearly had started off as a single family home when it was first constructed.

[REDACTED] and I maneuvered the animals out of the car and got them into the front hallway.

Immediately, the smell of old cigarette smoke and mildew hit. The dingy grey carpet that covered the entryway and stairs leading up to our neighbor’s apartments looked like it had never been vacuumed at any point in the house’s history. Spider webs clung to the bannisters. A lightbulb was burnt out, casting the hall in front of us into dim shadow.

A wooden door at the end of the hallway was labelled with a modern-looking number “2.” That was us.

I made my face as neutral as possible as [REDACTED] led the way to the door of our new home. He wrangled the key into the lock and I silently wished that the apartment on the other side would be the bright, open, and homey place I had been dreaming up.

Nothing in the apartment lived up to my imagination.

The apartment was smaller than [REDACTED] remembered, and the open living/dining room felt more cramped than our 3D model suggested. The kitchen was more open than our old place had been, but the amount of counter space was still surprisingly limited. The bathroom was small, but not unmanageable. The bedroom was large, but had clearly been built as a back porch and converted into a bedroom later on.

The first thing I noticed that felt really wrong were the floorboards. The wooden floor of the living/dining room was so warped that each board formed peaks and valleys with the one next to it. Walking on the floor, some spots would sink an inch or more when stepped on, others held their hard ridge against the sole of your foot. It isn’t a sensation I had ever felt before, and I didn’t like it.

“You just have to get used to it.” I told myself. “The other apartment didn’t feel like home at first, either.”

[REDACTED] and I took the dog for a walk, made plans for dinner that night, ran an errand to pick up some immediate necessities, and performed other small tasks related to moving.

That night, as we lay in bed, I knew that I hated the new place.

It wasn’t the size, or the layout—I could get used to that.

It wasn’t even the floors, although I definitely was not a fan of those.

Our first night is when we were “introduced” to our upstairs neighbors.

The thing about an old single-family home turned four-unit apartment building is that the structure of the place isn’t meant to be shared by strangers. There is no experience that I can imagine that highlights this fact more than lying in bed, just about to drift off to sleep, and being jolted awake by the conversations of your upstairs neighbors.

Especially when you can understand every third word or so that is spoken, or recognize the intro theme to whatever TV show they are watching, hear the gunfire from their video game, listen to them giving basic commands to their dog, or—the worst sensation of all time—have access to surround sound volume of their late-night sex shaking the ceiling and all four walls of your bedroom.

I hated the apartment. I still do.

As the weeks passed, the list of reasons I wanted to leave grew.

[REDACTED] agreed, it wasn’t an ideal situation.

We looked over the listings of available apartments. They each had some quality that didn’t make the move worth it—too small, too far from campus/work, no pets, no dogs, etc.

“We should just buy a house” started off as a joke.

Then we started researching listings, and prices, and steps.

We got pre-approved for a mortgage.

I think we’re going to buy a house.

The 5 Stages of Leaving

He had a near full-ride scholarship to law school.

I had to say goodbye.

On my walk home from having drinks with my mentor, I felt weightless – almost giddy. I had spent months in therapy preparing for this day. The day that I could confidently commit to moving to a new city and starting a new chapter somewhere else. I could imagine the possibilities and felt the thrill of a grand new adventure.

When I got home, my elation ebbed. I looked around at our cozy apartment where we had lived for the past three years and imagined having to pack everything into boxes. I am a “nester.” I like chotchkies on bookshelves and cozy blankets and pictures on the walls. I like settling into a place.

The night we decided we would leave, [REDACTED] and I pulled up apartments for rent and researched areas of our new city where we might want to live. I had a spreadsheet of places I would want to visit and added a tab for places I might want to work.

The day had been a whirlwind. Every hour, the bundle of nerves in the pit of my stomach took on a new shade of anxiety, excitement, certainty, and uncertainty.

Getting ready for bed, I tried to focus on my breathing, calm my nervous energy, and stay present in the moment. [REDACTED] turned to me as I switched off the light. “I know you’re pretty booked for this weekend, but I think we should consider going up to see some apartments.”

A cold wash of panic flooded my body. Deciding to move was one thing, but this felt too real, and the weekend was too close. I knew we were going to move, and that meant that we would need to find a new apartment. Logically, I could engage with those facts.

Emotionally, the move felt distant. The months between our decision and when we would have to put that decision into action gave me just enough space to curl up with my warm, fuzzy, blanket of denial and sink into my desire for inertia.

“Can I think about it and get back to you in the morning?”

“Of course.”

The next morning, I left for work early. I got in to the office and opened my inbox to an email full of apartment listings from [REDACTED]. My anger flared. I had said I would think about it, and I would. I just needed time, and we had time!

I could feel our decision to leave like a rock just below my ribcage. My coworkers knew [REDACTED] and I were nearing our deadline to decide. I had to tell them.

The office slowly filled with the ripples of work-related chatter, and I composed a quick email asking to meet with my supervisor and our executive director. The three of us quietly stepped into a side room and sat down.

“So, I have some news. [REDACTED] and I are moving.”

We hadn’t ironed out the details. We didn’t know “when” or “where.” We had a strong “why” for him, and the hope of a “why” for me.

And I had come up with a solution that I thought would be perfect for everyone.

I would finish with my teaching for the summer, and [REDACTED] and I would move in early August. The law school was a mere two-and-a-half-sometimes-three-hour drive away. The plan was to keep working part-time at my beloved theater on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and then drive to the new apartment and stay with [REDACTED] on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It would be a lot of driving twice a week, but I would only be doing it for two or three months while I looked for my next perfect place.

Looking back, I imagine that my eyes took on a crazed gleam when I started describing my plan. But at the time, it seemed like the perfect way to have my cake and eat it too. I could manage the transition knowing that it would be a transition – I wouldn’t have to give up everything I loved all at once.

At the end of the week, [REDACTED] made the trip to view a marathon of apartments. He sent me pictures of a few. At the end of the day, we had signed a lease. He was right, the rental market was drying up, and we were late to the table.

I remember being drawn to the myth of persephone again and again over the summer before law school started. Law school (and the move) felt like this dark looming winter that I knew was edging closer and closer, but that I didn’t have to think about just yet wrapped in the warmth of summer.

In July, the move began to feel more imminent. We started packing things away into boxes the week after July fourth. First it was the things we rarely used (holiday decorations, tablecloths and extra dishes), then the things we wouldn’t need until later that year (winter clothes, extra sheets, replacement lightbulbs).

I had been preparing for over a year for this transition. There wasn’t a single day where I hadn’t thought about [REDACTED]’s future, and our journey through law school. I had spent hours working through the emotional ups and downs with my therapist. I had spoken with mentors, friends, colleagues, and family members.

Packing our home into boxes made me feel like I had landed back on square one.

On our third day of packing, the dam broke.

I slipped out onto our back porch and wept. I was terrified of what was next. I was grieving the prospect of leaving my job, and I was furious – at [REDACTED] for uprooting our lives, at the law school that hadn’t offered him more scholarship funds, and the law school that had kept him on the waitlist for the past three months.

And I was infuriated with myself.

I had put so much time and effort into being able to support [REDACTED] and make the transition. I could make all the arguments for why moving would be a good thing – so exciting, so many new opportunities, so much potential for growth and learning!

Still, there I was. Hugging my knees to my chest with tears streaming down my face. Why couldn’t I just be reasonable?

Why couldn’t I just support [REDACTED]?

Why couldn’t I be excited for us?

Why couldn’t I be a better parter?

Why couldn’t I just be happy?

I was spiraling.

The weeks of packing felt a bit like moving through water. Some moments felt like floating – a bit out of body and a little unfocused. Others felt like I was deep under water – my body compressed and my eyes squeezed tightly shut.

What helped was the knowledge that this time and these feelings would not last forever. There was a definite point when we would be moved, and we would begin the process of unpacking and re-establishing our home somewhere else.

Law school is only three years, and while that can feel like a daunting amount of time, it helped to remember how many years I already had under my belt and how many more would come after law school.

In the grand scheme of things, three years isn’t much.

There are so many things to look forward to that will last longer than law school.

Day by day, the month of packing passed.

I had to work the day that the movers came to load all of our carefully packed boxes into our rented Uhaul.

[REDACTED] took the day off and made sure everything fit.

Any fragile items – our potted plants, vacuum, and pets – travelled separately in a van borrowed from my parent’s.

The final walk-through was uneventful. Without our paintings on the walls, the chotchkies on the mantel, or any of our other things the apartment felt less like our home.

We handed over the keys and said goodbye to the little one-bedroom were we had started our married life together.

Our things were packed and ready to be moved in to the new apartment in the new city for our next big adventure.

Somehow, seeing the apartment without our things in it helped.

In the end it was just a place.

What made it cozy was filling it with cozy things.

What made it home was him.

If we could do that once, we could do it again.

We had a new apartment lined up.

I had to get a new job to pay for it

Where do we go?

I had told the sad story of why [REDACTED] wanted to go to law school and how it was ruining my life so many times I was numb to it.

I was tired of the tension that I held in my body for months as the unknowns and unknowables kept coming in waves.

What was his score? Where are you looking? Will the two of you move? Have you thought about long distance? Can they increase his scholarship? What will you do?

What would I do?

None of the questions had answers I could control.

I wasn’t the one who took the LSAT.

I wasn’t the one who had applied anywhere.

I wasn’t looking forward to what lay ahead.

I was tired of being afraid of the future.

So I met with a woman who knows me, and who has seen me grow a lot in my life. Not my mom, whose emotions were too close to mine. Not my friend’s mom, whose daughter’s emotions were too close to mine. A professional mentor. She is the Managing Director of a theater where I grew up – literally.

When I was four or five, my mom started taking me to see shows at this small theater just north of our home. The scripts were all adapted from books. I was hooked, and have been watching stories come to life on that stage ever since. I interned there when I was in college (twice!) It’s where I first started to teach drama camps and work with kids. I was an assistant director on two productions. This is a place where I have worked the longest, felt the most at home, made the most mistakes, and grown the greatest amount.

When I sat down with the Managing Director, it was almost a year after [REDACTED] had started us both on the law school journey. Back then, I was so overwhelmed by the thought of law school as [REDACTED]’s next step in life I spent the better part of an hour crying into my drink. (We had our meeting at a bar.)

A year later, we sat at the same bar.

Law School was firmly cemented in reality. The tests were over, the applications past, and I was still so overwhelmed by the thought of law school I was numb to reality.

I explained our predicament.

We could stay in the same city, and I could stay in my same job, but we would be digging ourselves deep into debt. My job was at a small non profit theater with no health insurance, and no retirement saving plans.

We could move, and I could find a new job, and we might still be digging ourselves into debt. I could look specifically for a job that offered benefits, and that covered most of our expenses – all of our expenses if I was really lucky and maybe sold a small piece of my soul.

It hurt to even think about staying in the same place and finding a new job. To know that I was so close to what I loved so much and not be able to go there.

I knew logically I should look for a new job either way, but I could feel in my gut that if we wanted to avoid taking out additional loans, it meant we had to move. I had to move. If I was going to leave my dream job, I had to make it mean something.

I went to college in a suburb of where I grew up. [REDACTED] and I met in college, and when we graduated we moved back to that same city, which means I had spent my entire life living in one place. I had never known anywhere else for more than a month or so.

My mentor was thoughtful, kind, and patient as I rattled off all my reasons for wanting to stay, for not wanting to go, and for a little bit wanting to go.

“I think moving would be good for you.” Her reassurance calmed my churning stomach. I had been wondering and contemplating the same thing.

It wouldn’t be easy. I might not always be fun or joy-filled. There would be days that I would be really really sad.

But – something else that my wonderful mentor said spurred my confidence. “I learned so much about myself whenever I moved.” and “the places you love will still be here.”

My phone buzzed.

It was an email forwarded from a financial aid department.

[REDACTED] had received a higher scholarship offer that covered almost every cent of his tuition.

I looked up from my screen.

“I think we’re moving.”

The thought was there.

It felt mature and exciting and hopeful, with just a hint of butterflies.

The decision was made.

Deciding was easy.

Moving was harder.

Quantitative and Qualitative

Here are some things people generally don’t like talking about:


Income, expenses, budget, dollars, cents, loans, debt, finances, investments.

Maybe you do like talking about those things.

I don’t.

I don’t really even like to think about them.

But, when making big life decisions, one thing that usually comes up is money.

[REDACTED] was hopeful when it came to law school and expenses. For him, all the quantitative data was reassuring. We would take out loans to pay for law school, and then after law school we would pay those loans back.

Makes sense.

When I thought about law school and expenses and loans I wanted to scream into a pillow. I wanted to scream and cry and hit things and then never talk about it again.

For me, all the quantitative elements of law school were intimidating. Taking out loans for law school made sense, it was an investment in our future, but using loans to pay for our living expenses felt reckless.

[REDACTED] reassured me that the loans were supposed to cover expenses related to law school, and food, clothing, and shelter were all expenses that related to being in law school.

While [Redacted] and I scheduled tours to see the campuses of schools on our “Accepted” list, I put on a happy face and tried to imagine him in the classrooms. I tried picturing him walking the halls of the law school buildings, and hunched over massive law textbooks. I put the cost aside, and I imagined the experience of [REDACTED] being in law school.

It wasn’t just the money.

While juggling the swarm of emotions that went along with the qualitative facts and figures of law school and loans, I was equally focused on the qualitative ways that law school would change our lives.

It was challenging – the idea that my husband would be a student again. With student’s hours; a class schedule, homework, readings, and exams.

It was the responsibility that I would take on.

Up until that point, [REDACTED] had the job that provided our health insurance (and that health insurance meant access to affordable therapy and dentist appointments and other grown-up things).

Up until that point, I had the job that let me bring our dog to work. I had the job that made me want to stay late at the office, grab drinks with my co-workers, and sometimes work seven days a week.

While I expected to feel out of place visiting the law schools on [REDACTED]’s list, I challenged myself to have an open mind.

Reframing came in handy.

Instead of telling myself that I didn’t fit in a given place, I focused on being there for [REDACTED]. I couldn’t imagine myself at law school because I have no interest in going to law school. But I could tell that [REDACTED] did fit in the places we visited. I could see how excited he was by the different clinics, the summer internships and the clerkships the “2Ls” and “3Ls” talked about.

One school, I’ll call it “School X,” offered a scholarship that barely covered tuition, in a city where housing costs would be nearly double what we were then spending on rent. Plus, it was half-way across the country from both of our families. That was easy to cross off our list.

Another school, I’ll call it “School Y,” offered [REDACTED] a larger scholarship. It was generous – one of the largest amounts offered to any incoming student, but didn’t cover a good $14,000 in tuition, and that was before the cost of textbooks, transportation, school supplies, not to mention food and rent. If [REDACTED] went to “School Y,” we wouldn’t have to move.

The other school we were considering, “School Z,” was several hours away by car. It also offered [REDACTED] a scholarship. It was more than “School Y,” but also left a good chunk of tuition that would have to be paid out of pocket (or in our case with loans).

To his credit, [REDACTED] reached out to “School Y” and did his best to negotiate his scholarship offer.

He sent follow-up letters to our number one school – the one he was waitlisted for. No response.

I was desperate for someone to tell me what to do – to make this decision so that I wouldn’t have to. So, I set up meetings with some of the fearless women in my life whose advice I have always valued in the past.

I had a list of questions, including “Do you think it would be good experience for me to move?” “Have you ever left a job you didn’t feel ready to leave? What happened?” “Can you imagine me working in the corporate world?”

I had three meetings scheduled in my calendar. One with a professional mentor, one with my best friend from childhood’s mom, and one with my other best friend’s stepmom.

After my first meeting, I knew where [REDACTED] and I would go.


I wished that law school would go away

It didn’t.

I didn’t want to talk about law school.

I had to.

I didn’t want to think about law school.

I did.

Whether I wanted to or not, I thought about law school all the time. I catastrophized every step of the process for [REDACTED] to become a lawyer and my fear and anxiety grew:

“Picking a law school meant signing on to thousands of dollars in loans for [REDACTED] and the burden of financially supporting a small family for me…”

“If we picked a school in another city we would have to leave all of our friends and go somewhere where we didn’t know anyone. And making new friends as an adult is impossible….”

“When classes started, [REDACTED] would make friends and be so busy he wouldn’t have time for me anymore, and I wouldn’t know anyone else, so I would be alone. Plus, since we would have to move to another city, I would be miserable in my new job, and I would be stuck in my new job because I would have to be able to pay our rent and provide insurance and….”

If you’ve read up until now and been nothing but sympathetic, I know – it sounds awful. Those thoughts and ideas are valid concerns, but that doesn’t make them reality.

The overwhelming sense of impending doom denied any opportunity for hope or excitement at the prospect of law school as a great new adventure for both of us

If there is one thing I have taken away from therapy, it is the concept of “reframing.” Reframing, in this case, is simply telling the story differently. “Law school is a terrifying unknown” vs. “law school is a new adventure.”

It isn’t always easy, and there are definitely moments (or even days) when the negatives pile up and I can’t seem to change my mind or my attitude about them.

There is a quote from Peter Pan that I think about a lot when I am faced with catastrophic thoughts – “To die would be an awfully big adventure.” I know, that sounds morbid, but it isn’t. Peter thinks this when he imagines himself stranded on a rock that will soon be covered by water when the tide comes in.

He doesn’t die (he gets saved by a bird, go figure) but his mentality is always one of curiosity – no matter how terrifying the things he is facing. I really like Peter Pan.

So, to reframe my downward spiraling thoughts might look something like this:

When [REDACTED] starts law school (his first day was actually yesterday!), between classes and studying, are events that both of us can attend and meet people. Plus, since he will be busy with readings, I can explore things that I feel passionate about – or, pick up a part-time job and make friends with my co-workers! Making friends isn’t always easy, but it’s not impossible.

Seeing friends takes time and planning, whether you live in the same city or are hours apart, and like anything worthwhile, friendships take time and intention to flourish.

Some of my favorite people, I have met through work. Starting a new job is an opportunity to grow my skills, learn new things, and meet new people.

Taking out loans might be scary, but some law schools provide scholarships and that can reduce the cost of attendance by a lot. Plus, those loans are an investment in [REDACTED] and someday (hopefully) we will be able to pay them all off.

In the end, my fears around moving and finding a new job and making new friends didn’t make choosing a school any easier.

But you know what did?

The money.

The List(s)

We had a list – actually, we had three lists. Accepted. Rejected. Waitlisted.

The rejected list was small, but took a huge weight off of my chest – I didn’t have to think about moving to any of those new places. Whew.

The accepted list was longer, and looking at it sometimes felt like staring into a black hole. My brain would go fuzzy, like TV static. Some of the schools on the list were a plane ride away, some were a few hours by car, one was even in the same city where we already lived. It did not matter. I started to think about how my life would change when [REDACTED] started his “1L” and I could feel the anxiety pressing down on my chest.

The Waitlist was the douzy. Not just because it was the longest list, but because it contained so many emotions. Hope, uncertainty, despair. It felt like the whole world was riding on that stupid list.

[REDACTED] and my dream school was on The Waitlist.

His dream because it ranked highly, had high employment rates, all the right percentiles – the numbers, the facts, the figures were high. My dream school because it meant not having to move – the emotions (for me) were high. I could, at least in daydreams, keep my dream job – stay at that perfect place with its great people and awesome work.

The waiting was hard. Especially when you have family, friends, and co-workers checking in, asking if you’ve heard anything, asking when you’ll hear anything, and you don’t know.

You don’t know.

You don’t know.

The easiest thing for me to do while we waited was to sink into my warm fuzzy blanket of denial.

No decisions had been made, and no decisions needed to be made.

It was just a waiting game, and if we waited long enough maybe the waitlist would suddenly update and that dream school would become our new reality. Or, maybe [REDACTED] would come home and say “Nevermind law school! I want to be a [insert stable, well-paying, health-insurance-providing, nearby career path here.]”

That isn’t what happened, and it didn’t make our decisions any easier.

Neither did denial. Surprise. My blanket of denial was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Beginnings are hard

Beginnings are hard.

When [REDACTED] told me that he wanted to go to law school, I didn’t think much about it.

I was in a job that left me feeling empty at the end of each day, and I figured some change would be good.

He started studying for the LSAT and I started a preliminary job search, not expecting much.

[REDACTED] took the LSAT, and I took an offer for a new job. Everything was fine.

Then, reality hit. I came home from work, feeling fulfilled, and [REDACTED] came home from work feeling empty. He was ready for a change. I was not.

I was falling in love with my new job. I loved the work, the people, the place – it was perfect. Except, [REDACTED] was applying to law schools in every direction. Law schools that were far far away from my perfect job.

I started to resent law school. And then, I started to resent [REDACTED].

Why did he get to pursue this big dream goal while I had to give up everything? Why couldn’t he just get a new job and go to law school later?

Hindsight being 20/20, I realize now that I was being selfish. [REDACTED] had spent years in a job that didn’t fit his passions or his goals. He had told me he wanted to go to law school, he had even gone through an entire application process already and decided to wait an extra year. He had studied for the LSAT for months. I had wrapped myself in a cozy little blanket of denial and plowed ahead at my job as if law school was just a passing phase. I hadn’t done the work I needed to prepare myself for what was inevitable.

But how could I even begin to explain to [REDACTED]—whose dreams centered around going to law school—that his dream was my nightmare. How could I be so selfish to think that my desire to stay at my job (a job that fulfilled my soul, but did not fulfill our need for health insurance) was more important than his desire to leave his job (which did provide our health insurance, but didn’t fulfill [REDACTED]’s soul)?

I’m going to pause here and say, I haven’t been married for that long, but I can tell you this: when in doubt, go to therapy.

Before we got married (and moved in together), we went to therapy. Marriage is the most involved team sport I will ever play, and a therapist is like the team coach.

Before we got a dog, we probably should have gone to therapy. But, I was still wrapped in my cozy blanket of denial, and the dog was wrapped up in some serious maybe-this-will-make-[REDACTED]-forget-law-school brain storming. (Don’t get me wrong – that dog has become one of my favorite things, we adore her, and she is very good.) The dog is beside the point.

As I said before—beginnings are hard.

Starting therapy was hard. Being in therapy was hard. It took a while before the work that we were doing with our therapist became habits that we (try to) stick to today.

First was listening, and talking. I had been too scared to open up about my fears about law school—mainly, that I had only ever lived in one place and was terrified of moving. The “What if”s really started to build.

What if [REDACTED] made new friends, and I was left all alone?

What if his schedule meant he was never home, and I was all alone?

What if we moved, and I got a new job, and I hated that new job, and then I started to hate him?

What if I stopped loving him, or he stopped loving me?

That was the worst “what if” of all.

So, [REDACTED] and I set some boundaries. We decided that some nights, we would talk about law school. Other nights, we would talk about anything and everything except law school.

I assigned myself some homework—to research the places where [REDACTED] was excited to apply to. And I gave [REDACTED] some homework, which was to look at schools close to home, and get excited about applying to them.

In the beginning, it was hard. But with small steps and intentional conversations about the future and our hopes and dreams (as individuals and as a couple), we came up with a list of eight schools.

I gave myself a pat on the back for all of our hard work. We did it!

We had a list. The Epic Law School Cycle was over.

Oh friend, was I ever wrong.