When I joined my husband in his home state, Pennsylvania, six years ago, my conversations almost always included the phrases I hate Pennsylvania. I'm not a Yankee. I like the South better. Mostly, it was just I hate Pennsylvania.
And I didn't hate it just because I wasn't used to being here, I had reasons. The weather was so gloomy. The roads were torn up and bumpy. They didn't sell beer in grocery stores. Everything's so congested that I never knew what town I was in. Nobody had a tan.
We've been lucky, though. Matt has a great job, and we've lived really close to his parents and all his siblings. His siblings have even grown to be our best friends.
From the minute we moved here, we promised ourselves we'd be back in the South by the time we had children. We wanted to raise our babies there and buy a big house with a yard. But, until then, we settled for apartments, and lastly, a cramped, newly constructed townhome smack dab in the middle of an old, run down neighborhood. Most homes in North Carolina are twice as big, for the same price. What a frustrating thought.
The house we live in right now has about a hundred flights of stairs too many. The half bathroom is literally beside the refrigerator. Ninety percent of our kitchenware and wedding gifts are stored in our garage because we only have enough cabinet space for dishes and glasses. Our front yard is black asphalt. We have to go outside, down through the garage and into the damp basement to do laundry. I've caught myself muttering under my breath constantly, The day we move out of this house will be the happiest friggin' day, ever ...
Matt was flown down to North Carolina for interviews twice in the past six years. If they're flying you down, they must really want you for the job, right? No. Every time he didn't get the job, I lost hope a little more. I cried and, as time passed, I mentally made Pennsylvania my home. I accepted that Carter would grow up here; it didn't seem so bad anymore. Aside from our house, we've gotten to know our checkout person at Target. We like our doctors. We have a giant mall two miles away. We have a barber. A hairdresser. We know all the roads, backroads and the fastest routes to Starbucks. Our house isn't a dream home, but I knew we'd get a better one ... not soon, but some day.
Out of nowhere, the same company e-mailed Matt for yet another interview a couple weeks ago and he - again - flew down. He's more than qualified for the job, but I wasn't getting my hopes up. I was actually even a little mad at them. They were wasting his time and causing him needless travel stress.
But he got the job.
Out of nowhere. He got it. They really, really want him. Sheer joy should have passed through my body, but instead my reaction was mixed emotions and confusion.
My stepfather put it best: You've been chasing this car for years. Now the car's stopped; what are you going to do? Well, for a couple days, we just stood and stared at that stopped car. Are we really going to do this? Are we picking up everything and moving 400 miles away? It's a strange thought knowing Carter won't be growing up around Matt's family anymore.
I'm glad I can say I lived in outside Philadelphia for a good chunk of my life. I learned a lot about a different culture and a faster pace of life. I got to know my husband's family really well and make them my own. I learned what people up here really think about the South. I was converted into a Phillies fan. I learned about Tolls. Beaches are called shores. Subs are called Hoagies. Snow isn't a big deal. You have to wear socks in the winter. It's not the end of the world if you don't have a tan; there are even ways around it. We discovered my fertility problems here and met a doctor who ultimately gave us Carter.
We brought Carter to his first home and battled sleepless nights, took turns napping, calculated the quickest way to change a diaper without getting peed on, tossed pacifiers across rooms. We watched him grunt, smile, sit, crawl, laugh and sink into our hearts.
I'm going to miss being here.
I'm so excited for the future, though. It doesn't feel real yet. I can't wait to live in a neighborhood we can take walks in and have a yard with a swing set. I want to have parties, barbeques and soak up the southern sun. I want Carter to be proud of his new home as he grows up.
The upcoming weeks are going to be jam-packed; we're going to take a weekend to go house hunting, then put our house on the market, search for a new pediatrition, fertility doctor, barber, cable company, grocery store, dentist, the list goes on and on.
I'll be doing a few more YouTube vlogs from this house before we go. It's going to be crazy. It's going to be awesome. It's going to be bittersweet.