Since I left 6 and a half years ago, I’ve confidently preached that I would never, ever, in a million years move back to Pennsylvania. Apparently, the joke has been on me, because we move back in September. I’ve written before that I got out of York as fast as I could and as far away as I could.. San Diego was about as far as I could go without leaving the continental US. For a whole laundry list of reasons, I needed to get out and find who I was. It sounds melodramatic, sure, but I truly needed a way to figure out who I was without a small Catholic high school or a boyfriend which both had defined me for so many years. So now, after spending a few years away, with military obligations, ridiculous prison guarding, nursing school, and Olivia, we’ve decided to move… back to Pennsylvania.
Leaving Pennsylvania was a measure of success for me, and a measure to those who I had graduated with. Obviously, those who decided to stay in or around York were way less adventurous than I was, and I clearly had some sort of advantage (maybe I should go back to my mental health post and add a paragraph about my delusional ego?) Then, I saw a friend who had moved away post that she was moving back to York. This was someone who I had always respected, and it really made me think about what value living so far away from our families (especially with a young baby) held for me.
To any readers who understand the absolute power of Catholic guilt: my mother called me in June and asked if I realized that the last time I was home had been the previous Thanksgiving, and whether or not I realized Olivia had never been to Pennsylvania. This was totally loving, of course, but again, Catholic guilt has mystical powers. I hung up and booked a ticket home for a week mid-July. While I was home, we visited a lake where we had spent many summer days while I was growing up, and while my dad was standing in the lake with Olivia it hit me like a bus, we needed to move home. We needed the joy that the activities that filled our childhoods had brought us, like a day at the lake (word to the wise: do not attempt a day at the lake in the south, you will absolutely be eaten by an alligator.) I missed seasons, Hershey Park, visiting the Jersey shore each summer, days at the lake, the gorgeous scenery in Pennsylvania, and having my family close enough to schedule a last minute Sunday dinner together.
I used my independence and lack of nearby support system as a measure of how strong I was. I didn’t need help with anything, I was a US Marine, a wife, a nurse, and a mom. None of which I needed any help with. Until I saw my dad in the lake with Olivia, and I realized that I needed more love around me. I’ve since decided (maybe to ease my own qualms about moving back to where I grew up) that my measures of success in the past were no longer applicable to my current life. They meant a lot when I was defining who I was as an adult, but now they mean less.
Call it divine intervention, or fate, or dumb luck, but I put in applications to hospitals around York, and while my job search down here had been disappointing at best, I had 5 interviews scheduled in PA. I flew home and had 4 of those interviews in 2 days, and accepted a position at a local hospital with huge potential for professional growth as a nurse. One thing after another has easily fallen into place for this move, and I believe that it’s because when things are meant to work out, they will.
On that trip home, a family friend stopped by when she heard I was back in the area, and sat for close to an hour and talked with me about our plans, and how we had come to this decision. Her overwhelming joy and support for our move solidified that this was the right choice for us. Being independent and far away was necessary for me, I had no clue who I was back in 2011. I am realizing that my current success will be so much greater with the support of those who know and love me, and I think that is so powerful. I’ve viewed those who continued to live in York as weak (sorry guys, it’s not you, it’s me) but now I’m realizing the strength it takes to find who you are regardless of where you live, and the power that being surrounded by those who love you brings to personal growth. I’m grateful that I was able to see this example in my friend who moved back to PA (who also has a young child, yay for mom friends!), so that my daughter can grow up with the things that brought us such joy growing up. She will also be surrounded by the love of her grandparents, aunt and uncle, and extended family in New Jersey.
When I brought this idea to my husband I expected an immediate “no,” but he agreed almost immediately. We move from our gorgeous custom built home into an apartment mid-September, and I start work around the same time. We’re hitting a reset button in a way, but I think that this change of pace will be good for so many reasons. I think my point is that everybody’s journey is different, and I had some skewed ideas of what success was. Some of the things I valued as successes were absolutely that, but others don’t mean so much to me now. The new challenges we’re facing, surrounded by much closer support, is something we’re really looking forward to, even if it’s in a tiny apartment in a state where it snows.