For a New York minute, there was talk of moving Nevada.
It was a long shot, but also a once in a lifetime opportunity. One of those offers that you just don’t turn down, that you see where it goes — no matter how unlikely, no matter how thrilling or frightening.
From a little before Christmas until a little while after New Year’s, there was talk about moving out west. Casual talk. Hypothetical talk. “It’s too early to tell,” talk. Keeping it casual. Long shot casual. Google searches of Lake Tahoe and the local realty, but, still, casual.
Nervous jokes about what it would mean — but, still, casual.
Analyzing and over-analyzing, obsessively riding hypothetical waves of what the future might bring — but, still. Casual. Too early to tell. Really, it’s such a long shot. Not worth getting too amped up about.
I had spent the last few years riding nothing but hypothetical waves, figuring out the future as if reality itself existed on multiple planes — and this wave was no different. What would it mean, if the long shot actually proved fruitful, and we were faced with potentially leaving the Northeast. What would it mean in terms of careers and friends and housing and everything. What would it mean in terms of all the hard work that we had been putting in if there were yet another upheaval?
What would it mean if, in the midst of these shifting winds of change, we’d be thrown into a hurricane?
What would happen if the next step in this increasingly uncertain future be packing my bags? What would happen if the perennial nomad got a chance to unhook her moorings and push off away from the dock?
As hypothetical and daunting and stressful as it was, this potential offer became chance to be a little more retrospective. It was a chance to go back over the last few years and truly reevaluate.
At my absolute lowest points — when it felt like everything was unraveling around me and I was certain my heart couldn’t take any more — I had looked around and wondered if the only solution was to just leave town and start over. At higher points — when I was alive with wanderlust and insatiable with travel — I had looked around and wondered just how long I was meant to stay in New Hampshire; if it was time to go, not because the problems got to be too much, but because my calling rested on different lands.
And now, here we were, faced with a very real possibility of putting down stakes in different soil. And what could’ve been music to my nomadic heart had given me considerable pause instead.
I thought of the card reader, who had told me that I was not meant to stay in New Hampshire. And I thought of some of the other card reader’s predictions, and the ones that had seemed so certain but never came true.
Leaving Boston had never felt like this. I had been hesitant about the “small town” of Nashua (oh, if I could only give 24-year-old me a visit now, and give her a lesson on what “small towns” actually look like), but it always felt like the natural evolution of events. Good-bye, the Atlantic. The mountains await. I embraced the unshackling of my beloved Boston area in a haze of new jobs and wedding vows and an apartment with a view of a pond.
But there was something slightly unnatural about leaving New Hampshire. Something kept tugging at me and making me feel uneasy, like I was attempting to trespass something. All the pictures of Lake Tahoe in the world couldn’t assuage it. Every time I took a deep breath and truly looked at the world around me, I got this deep feeling within my gut, one that told me, point blank:
It is not yet time.
I gave the feeling little thought at first. I knew that there was fear and excitement and trepidation and worry backing every single thought — and I had learned a while ago that I can mistake my fevered emotions for gut instincts or even divine intervention. But still, it stayed.
I looked at my home and my neighborhood and my community — the roads I traveled on a daily basis, the views and vistas I experienced weekly, the air of all that surrounded me — and felt that statement, time and time again, as deep and as calm and as true as a patient father:
It is not yet time. You belong in New Hampshire right now.
I had had inklings of a similar feeling in the fairly recent past: a gentle voice telling me, Hang tight. You’re going to want to see what happens next. One that pinged at various moments, at both the high and low points of the past few years.
Listening to that voice would end up paying off in spades. Hanging tight, letting things be, holding space until I got some vital pieces to some very confusing puzzles. Allowing things that were destined to fall into place do exactly that. And the voice would continue to ping at me, as if emboldened by being proven right.
(continue to hang tight; you’re really going to want to see what else happens next)
But — at the end of the day — that mantra was about patience, about not acting until I got all of the information, about letting the laws of cause & effect come into play.
It was different than this voice. This one surveyed my smaller town on the border of civilization and the boondocks, and stated:
“It’s simply not time. There is still work to be done. Unfinished business to attend to.“
There are promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.
In the end, the long shot proved its length, and Nevada was off the table.
(“I didn’t want to jinx or sabotage anything but…I’m glad we didn’t have to make that decision.” “Me too. Me too.”)
Just days before we’d learn exactly whether or not we’d have to make said decision, my husband and I had stopped off at a local eatery, treating ourselves to gourmet mac & cheese after a day of darting around.
“I mean, we’ll definitely see what we’ll see but…it just doesn’t feel right, y’know?” I had said over my plate, repeating out loud what my inner voice had been saying all week. “Like, there’s unfinished business in New Hampshire, and it’s not yet time to leave.”
“Not time for you to leave?” my husband asked.
“Not time for us to leave,” I replied, and meaning every word.
“You’re right,” he said. “I feel it as well. There’s still work to be done here. At least for now, this is where we’re supposed to be.”
“At least for now, this is where we belong.”
That moment created something, in that casual restaurant, by that tiny table. Something connecting and conspiratorial had materialized right between us. A gentle type of energy, bridging the air between our spots. The speakers piped in some type of bubbly pop music, a song that was completely ill-fitted to the situation, but I kept hearing one line from a song by the Script, playing over and over in my head:
-Even after all these years, I just now get the feeling that we’re meeting for the first time.-
(Hang tight. You’ll want to see what happens next.)
We had owned our home for three and a half years when Nevada showed up at our doorstep. Three and a half years, thousands upon thousands of dollars in mortgage payments, repainted walls and a rewired sound system and a semi-finished basement. Property we had been gently forming and shaping to our desires, a mailman who knew how terrible I was at checking the mail and arranged our fliers and junk mail accordingly. A handful of neighbors who knew us by name; the rest by sight. Nearly six years with a New Hampshire driver’s license, plus a car that was purchased and registered in the same state.
But none of that was truly confirmation, not until there was a chance to step away and I was forced to dig deep, to see what it was that I truly wanted. And what I found was reassurance on a soul and cellular level. A reminder that my roaming heart craves a home base, even if it itches to wander away from it from time to time — and my nomadic heart had found that home near the mountains of New Hampshire.
This might not be where I stay forever. Who knows exactly what the future will bring. I’d long ago given up such cutesy predictions and instead embraced the beautiful uncertainty of a chaotic and unfair world. I’d long ago stopped trying to tell fate what to do and instead trusted something bigger than myself to take the wheel (at least from time to time). And heaven knows how long it will be this way before the winds shift again.
But, for once, in the present moment, I knew where I was supposed to be.
This is where I belong right now.
This is where we belong right now.
And I had been waiting my whole life for exactly this feeling.