In 1999 my husband and I moved to the Washington, DC area so I could attend graduate school. We fell completely in love with the area. We enjoyed the city, the atmosphere of its surrounding suburbs and the people who had become our friends. Upon the completion of my degree we were faced with making our “next step”. My husband was ready to work on his advanced degree, I needed to find a job, and we had to decide if we would renew the lease on our apartment or if we would commit to buying a home. After spending months agonizing over our options we decided to move back to Connecticut.
While this decision was absolutely made jointly, I was much more upset with our impending move than my husband. In fact, I cried buckets and buckets of tears the entire journey home. With every mile taking me further away from Washington I became more and more inconsolable. I was so happy in DC. I saw our move away from home as a HUGE step up our ladder of life. I was afraid our move back home was another huge step but one in the wrong direction.
Fast forward many, many years. We came home, we worked on our careers, we created our family, and we bought our home. With the exception of a brief visit back before our first child was born we did not have a chance to return to the DC area. My memories of our time spent there grew foggy. I would find old pictures and smile and we would share stories and remind each other of the fun times we had. The age of Facebook began and I reconnected with all of our old friends virtually, delighting in pictures of their families and news of their lives. As devastated as I was to leave our life in Washington I had most definitely moved on from those feelings and I had embraced our life in Connecticut.
Well…maybe not. Three years ago my husband and I decided, on a whim and at the very last minute, to take a trip to Washington, DC over the long President’s Day weekend. The moment we got off of the DC beltway and hit the once familiar streets of our old neighborhood, my heart broke all over again. We spent a lovely long weekend showing the kids our old apartment, wandering through the stores of our old main drag, eating in our favorite restaurants and, of course, showing them the beautiful sites of Washington. It felt like we had finally come home. The night before we left, I shed more tears, so incredibly sad to have to leave this amazing place again. My husband and I had a long, whispered conversation, over our sleeping babies’ heads, about the idea of maybe moving back. Could we? Should we?
A trip to Washington is now our family’s February tradition. Each time we visit I feel the same confusing feelings. I’m always so happy to be there, so sad to leave, and so conflicted over a life decision that was made so long ago and cannot be reversed—at least not any time soon. It is no secret that I absolutely hate living in Connecticut. This is not where I wanted to spend my life. That being said, it is also not a secret that I could not possibly live my life as a working mother without my family. My mother supports me every single day and has done so since my first child was born. She lives two miles away. My father is one of my favorite people and my children are so incredibly blessed to have him as an active participant in their lives. My sister literally lives around the corner, her children are my children’s constant companions, she and her husband my kids’ favorite aunt and uncle. There would be a massive void in our lives if we chose to live away from them all. My brain knows this. My heart knows this. We made the right decision all those years ago.
And yet…I’ll always wonder about that path not taken. We love you DC. Until next time…
My favorite people and my favorite place all in one picture. Photo Credit S. Orris