Chapter 7 and Chapter 8

It’s been a really long time since I wrote here. I mean a really long time. Jennifer and I hijacked what was once my food blog (yes! I used to cook! a lot!) and wrote about our John Muir Trail adventures for a while, but after that things went silent.

So why write another post after a year-long hiatus? It’s time to revisit those posts I wrote a while back about Chapters in life. Let me catch you up real quick. Detailed more here and here, for reference.

Chapter 1: My childhood and some college. Oldies but goodies for sure (1980-2000).

Chapter 2: The year my brother died and then the following year, I flew away to Italy. This one was really shitty, but the hole it left in my heart caused a giant pivot in my life that I will forever be grateful for, and the memories of my brother live on each and every day (2000-2001).

Chapter 3: The years following Italy when Chris and I found each other, decided we were (both) in love, moved in together, and lived happily for a few years in North Carolina finishing college and figuring out our next steps together (2002-2004).

Chapter 4: Graduate school in Chicago. There was so much booze involved that I probably don’t remember a lot of this timeframe (2004-2006).

Chapter 5: Chicago. We got married, started our careers, snuggled on our cats, and fell in love again, but this time with a city. We spent many good years in Chicago, and that city will always hold a very special place in my heart (2006-2011).

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Chapter 6: San Francisco. The whole point of writing about these Chapters was to officially document our move west in 2011. Chris’ career brought us here, and we moved all of our belongings, our two cats, and our open hearts and minds to California. We were nervous, but excited. We knew it was going to be a huge change but hey, we’d done that before.

We absolutely LOVE San Francisco. We love the weather (usually), we love the scenery, we love that we fell in love with the outdoors and started hiking and backpacking, and we love the friends we’ve made along the way. We appreciate the diversity, the acceptance of all people no matter what. I enjoy seeing “the naked man” out walking on a cold windy day, and I enjoy laughing at the tourists staring at him in disbelief. We adore our condo, the one we spent our life savings on – but it’s truly home – more than anywhere we’ve ever lived. This is where we feel safe, happy, and complete. We’ve both taken chances in our careers, changed jobs, taken risks that have sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. But we learned every step along the way and we have supported each other through it all.

In San Francisco, I had to say goodbye to the one thing I’ve had my entire adult life – my beloved Tangerine. If there was only one animal for each person in life, I can rest assured that I certainly found mine. She was the fluffiest, handsomest ball of sorbet-orange fur out there, and I swear she loved me just as much as I loved her. As we shared a mutual love for bacon, the one up-side to her death is that I get more bacon nowadays.

Last but certainly not least, San Francisco is where our family of two became three. We went years as a happily married couple with cats wondering if we’d have kids – not knowing if that was what we wanted or not – and then all of a sudden it just seemed like a no-brainer, the logical next step, albeit 11 years without. And then he was here, little Wilder Matteo. I think he deserves his own special chapter.

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Chapter 7: the baby Wilder. I could spend pages upon pages here, but I’ll try to show some restraint because as I tend to, I’ve already rambled on quite a bit. I can’t believe I ever thought there might not be a baby Wilder. I don’t regret for a second having taken the length of time it took for us to decide to be parents – those parent-less years are really special to me and I truly believe people should spend more time as a couple before having children, for lots of reasons that I won’t go into here.

But Wilder. Almost 11 months ago this tiny 6-ish pound little creature made his way into my life and my heart. I didn’t believe people when they told me I’d never ever love this hard, but now I know that to be true. Being a mom is one of those things I could never really picture, and then I just was one. It felt, and feels, so normal now. Looking into his eyes, watching him grow, and man oh man, that first smile just melted my heart. But let’s be honest – every day my heart melts because of something he’s done – yesterday it was because he was teething and needed to just lay in my arms to snuggle; today it was because he wore one of my favorite shirts – the yellow one; a few days ago it was a picture I took of him that made me realize how much he looks like my brother, and I am so thankful for that. One day soon, probably too soon, it will be because he is taking his first steps. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine though. Parenting is hard, the hardest “job” of them all – but the most rewarding one, too. I make fun of Chris for being a “momma’s boy”, but now I understand that. This kid is never dating, never moving out, and definitely never finding another woman.

Being Wilder’s mom has led me to think about life differently. I think about what’s best for him, not just for Chris or myself, or our careers. I realized recently that the months were practically flying by, and meanwhile I was spending way too much time working. I wanted more time with him – more time to hang out, play with blocks, take walks to touch the trees, and for crying out loud, to do the freaking laundry. I left my full-time job to do that, and this past month has been pretty awesome since I now get a couple more days with him each week. I’ll figure out the work thing later – I’m taking it slowly because that just makes more sense right now. Fortunately, that works for us for the time being, and I’m taking advantage of it.

Because ultimately, our time here is short. That sounds way too doomsday. I meant to say that our time here, in SF, is short.

Which leads me to Chapter 8.

Chapter 8: What’s Next. So life has a way of telling you when it’s time to make some changes. And for us, that means it’s time to hit the road (literally) and move on. We’ve been telling ourselves that our time here in San Francisco is winding down, but we originally intended to stay here another couple of years. But having this little one around, like I said, it changes how you think.

When I think about what I want for Wilder’s immediate future, it’s pretty simple. I want him to be around people who love and adore him. He’d get that in SF if we stayed here, no doubt – we have lots of friends here and have fortunately been able to stay relatively active socially, despite having a baby. Wilder gets kisses and snuggles from everyone all the time; he makes friends on the train, in bars (yes he LOVES sitting at the bar), at the park, in line getting ice cream, and everywhere in between. His smile is one that cannot be ignored – his face lights up a room, his squeals make people grin rather than cringe, and don’t get me started on the curls.

The thing is though, that Wilder’s family feels that same way about him. His grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins swoon over him every time we are in town. He’s the baby they all thought would never be, but he is, and I think that invokes a certain love for him that we as his parents didn’t expect. It tears me up inside each time we say goodbye to them; Wilder may not appreciate goodbye the way adults do, but I think that’s also what makes it even more difficult. He doesn’t know when we say goodbye that it might be 4 months before he sees his cousin again. He doesn’t know that one day he’ll be like Chris and I and not have a grandparent to wrestle with, pick berries with, and terrorize when dropped off for a weekend. He doesn’t know that flights across the country are expensive, and that money doesn’t grow on trees. He doesn’t know that life is unpredictable and unfair, and that there are no guarantees as to when and if he’ll see someone again.

But we know that – his dad and I – we know all of these things.

So with these things in mind, a few months ago we decided it was time to go “home”. We know that we find “home” wherever we end up – Chicago was home, San Francisco is home, and while we have been away from North Carolina for 14 years, we know we will find home again there too. I am excited, nervous, sad, terrified, and stoked all at the same time. But I know this is the right choice for right now. I know we’ll never regret moving closer to our family, and giving them all the opportunity to spend time, more regularly, with this kiddo. It will take getting used to – NC is different in so many ways from San Francisco or Chicago – but we’ll find our way, I’m sure.

I won’t lie – it will be difficult to leave California. At one point I remember thinking we would never leave – but that was when the extreme cost of living in the Bay Area was justified by all the adventuring we were doing, and long before our two became three. As was also the case when we left Chicago, leaving friends will be the part I dread the most. But we will leave here knowing we have created a number of true and lasting friendships – friendships that should stand the test of time and distance and of course, friendships that will keep us coming to San Francisco for years to come. That and the wine, of course.

There is a lot to take care of here before we go, though. Movers to arrange, jobs to finish up, a condo to sell, friends to say goodbye to, wine to ship, a birthday celebration on the horizon (if you can believe it), and cats to transport just to name a few. Oh, and a road trip, because we can’t just teleport. What’s the use of moving all the way across the country if you can’t enjoy the journey there, anyway? So eventually, and soon, we will be there.

We look forward to this new Chapter and will see you on the other side.

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