{living in sin} But Where Will We Live? Part I

by Rachel on June 4, 2012

Eric and I are moving in a couple months, a fact that has consumed my life for the past few weeks. While I wanted to write about the good news — We’re moving! It’s exciting! There are things to Pin!! — I realized that there is a lot more to this change than just the fact that we found a new place and are planning to move. Whenever I’ve heard people talk about their apartment and house hunting/buying, mostly via Facebook or blogs, I have assumed that they are simply just talking about their homes. But I’m seeing now that the challenges associated with finding a place to live can have very little do with real estate and everything to do with bigger issues: values, pride, fear of commitment. For me anyway, the question of where we would live has been a microcosm of all the bigger questions I have about my life and my life as part of a couple. It will probably take me a few days to tell the whole story, but I think it’s a story worth telling. 

living in sinAs soon as Eric and I got engaged, the first question most people asked regarding a wedding was, “So where will you get married? Kansas or Michigan? Or Houston?”

When people ask this, all I can think is, “Where will we get married? But…where will we live????”

Because that is the question that has been on my mind for nearly a year now.

Dilemma #1: Houston vs. The Rest of the World

When I moved to Houston, I wasn’t really thinking about whether or not I wanted to stay in Texas. I had bigger things to think about — like, you know, whether I would want to stay with Eric. Houston felt temporary; it was an extended vacation, a lark, a place to go because I couldn’t think of a very good reason not to. But then last summer, a few months after we moved in together, we both went to the hospital and had no one to take care of us and it really scared me. That’s when it hit me that this was real and we were going to build a life together…and we were building it all alone, a million miles from almost everyone.

So I asked the question: where will we live?

Eric had pretty much planned to stay in Houston since he moved down here. He likes Houston, he has friends, and he has a job he loved at the company he’d always wanted to work for. Even though he doesn’t see his family often, he has enough of the things he needed to be happy here. But while I like Houston a lot, I just didn’t feel like everything I needed was here. I didn’t have family and friends here, or a dream job. The problem, though, was that I don’t know where all those things are. I don’t desperately want to go home to Michigan, where my family is, or to Chicago, where most of my friends are. Neither of us really want to go to Wichita, where his family is. I don’t want to go back to New York. Because I want to be all of these places, I can’t really justify moving to any one of them. So…where then?

As Eric and I tried to figure this out, we quickly realized that he was very much an object at rest planning to stay at rest here in Texas. Unless a job or family situation changed in a major way, he wasn’t going to just give up his life here. At the same time, I felt like an object in motion, and I’ve been in motion for the past nine years since I graduated from high school. (Three colleges, two big cites, so many apartments…) Neither of us could figure out what the force was going to be that would move or stop one of us, either now, or down the line. Eric didn’t want to go, and I couldn’t blame him. I wasn’t really sure I wanted or needed to go. I just wanted the option to be able to go. And if we were in this for the long haul, and he was in Texas for the long haul, I knew where that left me. When it comes down to it, I was just crippled with a good, old-fashioned fear of commitment. As I would realize again and again in the months to come, committing to a person didn’t scare me, but committing to a place did.

I told Eric that to be happy in Houston, and OK with the things that meant giving up, I needed at least two out of three things to be really good: my job, my location, or my relationships (with family, friends, him, etc). He had three out of three. I had…fractions of each, and I needed help having more. In the end, our compromise was that I would try my best to be happy here for the next several months, to see if I would be able to envision my life here with a bit more effort; meanwhile, he’d do everything he could to help me be happier here. That is why I’ve been so focused on writing more and to making new friends. While putting myself out there in terms of making new friends and taking advantage of the things Houston has to offer has fallen mostly on my shoulders, Eric has been making my life easier so I can focus on my career and my job satisfaction down here. He’s been supporting me in so many ways, through everything from doing extra chores and making more dinners so I have time to write to helping me stay motivated when I want to give up to understanding that I’m going to be a little busy, overwhelmed, and cranky at times.

It honestly seemed like a long shot at the time (like, him doing more chores is really going to change everything?! Right…) but…it actually worked! Being satisfied creatively was the biggest part; the friendships are still coming and they are icing on the cake. But it wasn’t very long before I knew that I could be happy down here. It was a huge deal for both us.

But…there were still a lot more compromises that needed to be made.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary (A Merry Life) June 4, 2012 at 11:05 am

Oh I totally know what you were/are feeling! If you want to stay with him and in Houston then you are definitely doing the right thing with the creativity and friend making. That will be huge in keeping you happy and content to stay there. And really, most people can live anywhere and will end up doing the same things. It’s all about the people you surround yourself with. I wish you continued success with this project! :)

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2 Rain June 4, 2012 at 11:08 am

I feel like I went through the same thing. My husband really hadn’t lived very many places besides Austin…yet I have lived all over in different states.

It’s hard to settle down…and I like you have family in other states, and most of my friends are in different states also. I think I started liking the moves, and different cities…or at least I had got used to it so staying in one placed seemed odd.

It’s hard to find a place to settle down, you have to think of so many things. Is the weather acceptable? Is it a good place to raise kids? Is it monetarily feasible to live there?

I still struggle with it at times. And I often think about other places I would like to live or settle down.

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3 Rachel June 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

Is the weather acceptable? Is it a good place to raise kids? Is it monetarily feasible to live there? YES! Every little tiny thing starts to matter so much when making this decision!

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4 Aly June 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I feel exactly like this — I’ve moved around a ton since being 18 and now it’s just weird to figure out how to settle down and commit to somewhere.

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5 Whitney June 4, 2012 at 11:11 am

I feel the exact same way about Houston as you do. I like it pretty okay, but it’s just not “home.” I’m so far from my family. I actually went into the hospital a few months ago and I never felt so alone as I did then! That’s why I have to blog. I’ve met so many people. We don’t plan on staying here forever (in fact, we want to move back to SC ASAP) but for now, it’s okay.

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6 Chelsea June 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

I can relate so well it’s scary. I’m from Michigan, living in Houston for the last 4 years. The move down here was always meant to be temporary. Just following a boy because, why not. He gt a great job opportunity out of college so we packed our bags and gave it a shot. That boy, now husband, has a good job and good friends and I dont have either. I have a job that pays bills and friends we hang out with, but I miss my girl friends and have never felt like Houston is home. Our family is in MI and my closest frieds in Chicago. We are the only two living in Houston and it gets lonely and sad to miss all all the events since we don’t make it back home too often. My husband and I have started to discuss moving out on TX. And although I’m not in a hurry to go back to MI, we are kind of over Houston and ready for a change of scenery.

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7 Rachel June 4, 2012 at 11:22 am

Well, until you move…let’s be friends! :) Add me on Facebook!

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8 Chelsea June 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

Done. Which brings up a good point. I think Houston would be 100% better if I had a good group of girl friends. I love my hubs, but he isn’t as much fun to drink wine on a patio at happy hour. I think my lack of love for Houston’s due to bordum.

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9 Rachel June 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm

We have a Facebook group for women in Houston looking for new friends! I’m adding you now!

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10 Brittany June 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Great post – I moved to Houston after college and used to feel the same way about it. I was always bugging my husband about where we’d move next, but after 4 or 5 years I’ve really learned to love it! That being said, I agree that it’s a difficult city to meet girlfriends in, especially if it’s not your hometown. I’d love to meet y’all sometime!

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11 Bess June 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

I totally understand this sentiment: “As I would realize again and again in the months to come, committing to a person didn’t scare me, but committing to a place did.”

In my teens and twenties, I loved having the ability to move wherever my heart desired without having to factor somebody else into the equation and I definitely made the most of that.

Though strangely, now I can’t imagine living anywhere else but Southern California so at present, it’s more the idea of committing to any place except there that scares me.

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12 Christina June 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

It’s always tough when a person has to move to live with their SO. Even if they’re looking forward to it, there will be an adjustment period. It’s great that Eric is helping you out with this and I hope you continue to find things about Houston you enjoy.

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13 Kavi @ Lab to Fab! June 4, 2012 at 11:40 am

What an open and honest post. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your journey! I think it’s great that you and Eric both put in the effort to start making a new city a new home. Best of luck!

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14 Mel June 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

I always love how instead of brushing over and gently mentioning “We’re figuring out a place to live,” you bring us much deeper into your life and into the story.

I, too, have the biggest struggle committing to a location! The only place that has ever felt like home to me is the house I grew up in – and live in now – which my mom is now selling! I understand why she wants to move but I’m having a hard time accepting the fate that my family will never all return there – especially since I’m not sure where I’d like to call my home next.

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15 Stef June 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

I used to be very set in my ways about what I wanted in a home, but you never know where life will take you. My guy moved from St. Louis to Detroit for me and was very much in your position. It wasn’t his ideal job, location, home, or friends. I had a whole life in place before he came and *personally* wasn’t really interested in changing much (for him yes, of course, I can compromise). A huge change came to us very suddenly and we’re now living in rural Wyoming, a place we NEVER thought we’d end up. A location or home isn’t forever. The only forever is your relationship.

That said, I’m excited to see the new place/location, whatever it may be!

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16 Rachel June 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

A location or home isn’t forever. The only forever is your relationship. This was a big realization for me…that a job won’t commit to you for the rest of your life, but a person (or at least some people) will. That made me realize that the people come first when it comes to what I’m willing to fight to keep!

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17 [SMASH] June 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Glad that you really looked at your situation (and not just how happy you are with your relationship) when deciding. Wishing you much luck with your career development!

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18 Melissa June 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I love this, I’m not sure how much people really think about where they want to live. This is how we ended up in Sweden. Out of school we took the first job we got which was in the suburbs between DC and Baltimore. I hate to drive, traffic was terrible and we were bored (despite our best friends being close by). We decided to move and wanting a city chose Chicago because it had mass transit and was way cheaper than NYC or Boston and my company had an opening. We moved there and while we liked it, it never felt like home to me. We spent three years there and then decided to look around, we took a two week trip out west checking out different cities but none had what we wanted. What we really wanted was access to nature (I love to hike) and mass transit. Then last year we decided to move to Stockholm, it took a few months but I transferred jobs and my husband just got a job. It has been awesome. There are parks everywhere and I can walk through one as my commute to work, there is fantastic mass transit, we really love it here. It will take longer to make friends, but since my parents get lots of exchange students from Europe, we have three families in Stockholm and 9 others around Europe we can visit.

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19 Brie June 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm

It took me about 2.5 years to REALLY get comfortable in Kansas City, which is where we live now. I hated it for the first year, then started liking it more and more. When we bought a house, it really started to feel like home to me.

My husband and I have a deal, though–if I ever say, “I need a week/weekend/whatever in Chicago,” which is where my friends and family are, I can get on a plane, no questions asked, no complaining about the price of the plane ticket. I take advantage of this about every six months and it really helps.

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20 Rachel June 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Your deal sounds awesome! Luckily right now, that’s been working out on its own, and we don’t share all of our money so it’s more on me to find a way to afford it, but I could see myself requesting that at some point down the line. I think it comes down to like…if you’re going to do this big thing of living somewhere that isn’t your first choice, ya gotta do what you gotta do to make it work!

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21 Jules June 4, 2012 at 12:39 pm

This is such a great post and perspective. I really do not LIKE where I live, but I have friends and family. Sometimes I am not sure why I am here, but cannot figure out where I could go to be happier.

I love that you are so analitical and take charge of your life to make it what you want it to be.

And that you have a man behind you supporting you!

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22 D June 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I completely agree with whoever said that the only forever is your relationship. I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 5 years, 2 of which have been long distance. I have always been DEAD SET on living in the US ‘permanently’, but the reality is that it’s more logical for me to move back to the UK, at least for now. It’s a difficult reality to face, but it is what it is, and I have to constantly remind myself why I’m making this choice. My boyfriend insisted that we could do long distance for two more years until he could move to the US because he didn’t want to ‘ruin’ my dreams of living in America. How crazy is that?

My greatest fear is being ‘stuck’ somewhere and living in one place the rest of my life, so I get your fears, but it really is JUST a city! Everyone has to make sacrifices, but at the end of the day, “having” to live in a great city that Eric loves seems like a pleasant sacrifice to make.

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23 Dori June 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Cliffhanger! I can’t wait to read the rest…

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24 Sarah June 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Okay I am loving this post! As a college student nearing graduation with a boyfriend of over 2 years I have tried to explain all of the things that you talked about in your post (love for your job, relationships and location) to my partner but it has never come out right. Thanks for this! I will definitely be having the conversation again :)

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25 Rachel June 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Oh awesome — keep me posted on how that convo goes! Good luck!

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26 Jane June 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I live in Atlanta now, and just (like, two hours ago) got back from visiting family and friends in Detroit and Ann Arbor. I was quickly struck with how much I miss Ann Arbor, where I lived for the past five years, even though I don’t want to and can’t return. And then taking the train back from the airport in Atlanta, I was struck by how much I like it here, but don’t really want to be here either. My most meaningful relationships are eight hundred miles away, but my livelihood and the places I like most are here, and I’ve yet to develop a real familiarity.

For all my babbling, I just feel like a professional malcontent right now.

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27 Stef June 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Sigh. I miss Ann Arbor so much. Detroit too.

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28 Sarah June 5, 2012 at 12:07 am

I’m also from Ann Arbor and now live in Atlanta! I was just talking with a friend today about how I’m so ready for Atlanta to feel like home, but it just doesn’t yet, in spite of how much I do like it here. I also know I don’t really want to move back to MI, so I’m not sure exactly where that leaves me.

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29 Rachel June 5, 2012 at 7:43 am

THIS: “even though I don’t want to and can’t return” and then THIS: “I was struck by how much I like it here, but don’t really want to be here either.” Yes yes and yes.

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30 Nicole @ Giraffelegs June 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I’m really happy for you. And I do expect a few wedding related posts, because I will be studying for the LSAT and I need some kind of pick me the fuck ups. Congrats again girl!

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31 Rachel June 5, 2012 at 7:49 am

Ha…you’re going to have to let Pinterest satisfy you for a while because it’s going to be a while before we start planning anything!

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32 Allison June 4, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Ugh I TOTALLY get this. And as a matter of fact, I’m working in Houston for the whole summer completely by myself. Yes, work summer camp. Making friends is HARD as an adult.

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33 Rachel June 5, 2012 at 7:44 am

It really is! But if you want to meet some Houston ladies, add me on Facebook!

Also, I loved summer camp…is work summer camp as awesome as regular summer camp?

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34 Allison June 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Except for the work part! Haha. I’m adding you on Facebook now.

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35 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie June 5, 2012 at 11:11 am

I’m so impressed! It’s easy to whine and say “poor meeeee,” it’s challenging and painful to make a conscious effort to change your feelings and situation. You’re an inspiration to us all for sharing your journey!!!

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36 Stephanie June 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

It’s great to see your perspective on this. This has been coming up a lot lately in my relationship with my boyfriend. We are currently living about 1 1/2+ hours apart (depending on traffic) and we both agree we are ready to move in together. Of course after deciding what town we want to live in we realize that I will be driving 1+ hours a day each way so that he can be closer to work since he works longer hours than I do. It’s all about compromise and every once I need to remind myself to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and our long term goals.

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37 Nicki June 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

While I can’t relate to the relationship portion of your post as I’m single, when I moved to NYC just over a year ago, I luckily struck absolute GOLD in the friendship department within two months. If that hadn’t happened – I don’t know how much time I would have given it. I now never want to leave the city because my circle of trust is the best it’s ever been in my entire life. Can’t wait to find a guy to sweeten this deal, as my job is okay but I know there are a lot of opportunities here and my social life puts everything else to shame that I can survive off of that alone of the “top three.” Looking forward to reading the rest of this series as it enlightens me for when I get into a LTR in the future.

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