Goodbye, Texas

There are some things in life I never thought I would be doing.

Like packing up everything I own into my car and moving to Southern California.

Ever since I read the Christy Miller Series when I was in high school, I’ve been fascinated with Newport Beach. (By the way, I highly recommend this series for all young women. And old women. And any women currently breathing.) It seemed like such a dream place and somewhere that could truly change a person in ways he or she never expected.

When my sister and I visited there a few months ago, my heart fell in love. As soon as we arrived, I felt a strange sense of peace, and I really felt like I was where I belonged. I felt this way the entire trip, but I assumed it was because I was so overwhelmed by being able to be in this place I had only imagined for so many years.

On the plane ride home, I started praying and had this moment in which I felt the Lord prompting my heart to move there. I tried to brush it off by telling myself that I had just really enjoyed the vacation with my sister and was on an ocean high or something.

But when God really wants you to do something, you can’t ignore His calling.

When we got back home, I still felt the uneasy feeling that I belong out there—whether that means forever or for now, I have no clue. But it just felt so right, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I kept praying about it, and every single time, the answer was clear: Move there.

I started applying for jobs, and I will say that it was a very discouraging feat most of the time. Apparently a lot of companies aren’t interested in hiring some girl from a completely different state when they can easily hire others more local who can actually show up to interviews at the drop of a hat and not have to make arrangements at work and book travel and possibly be compensated for relocation and whatnot. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent filling out seemingly endless applications for companies from which I would either never hear or from which I’d receive one-line emails saying they were pursuing other candidates.

Rejection hurts.

But then an opportunity came along for a marketing writing job for a private school system, and I jumped at it as soon as I read the job description. Within the next couple of days, I interviewed via Skype and then was asked to complete a writing assignment. I received great feedback and sent my references. I had hoped to hear back the same week I sent those, and I tried not to get too upset when I didn’t. It wasn’t until I woke up from surgery (which was successful!) the following Monday and checked my phone that I heard the voicemail offering me the job.

Holy schnikes—things just got real.

It’s incredible to me how quickly everything has fallen into place and how wonderful God’s timing has been throughout this entire process. (I don’t know why I sometimes think mine is better. It obviously is not.) I immediately booked a flight that night—and it’s slightly surprising I was functioning enough to do so, because I was very heavily medicated and had been advised not to make any big purchases or big decisions that day. Oops.

The following Saturday, I made a one-day trip out there to try to find a place to leave. I told myself I wasn’t flying home without a new home, but my time was VERY limited. I arrived Saturday morning (after having to take a shower with water bottles that morning—thank you, city of Dallas, for the “scheduled” six-hour water outage) a little before 9 a.m. and had a departing flight Sunday morning at 12:45 a.m. (or so I thought—the plane had some “mechanical issues,” so we sat on it for two hours before actually taking off. (P.S. Word of advice: It’s likely not wise to take such a trip the same week of a surgery and one day after having a kidney stent removed from your body. I do not recommend it.)

Biking along the beach heals the soul.

I visited a handful of places and started to get a bit down. What was I doing? What was I thinking? How did I think I could afford to live in California in a nice place? It became apparent that I was going to have to live in a dump for the amount I wanted to pay. I needed a break, so I went to Huntington Beach and rented a bike. As I rode, I tried to clear my head and just enjoy the peaceful scenery. I began praying and asking for some sort of miraculous provision.

It’s amazing to me how much God listens to and cares for us.

When I turned in my bike, I asked the homeboy behind the counter if he knew of any good apartments nearby. He directed me to a place that, as soon as I entered, I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford. I mean, a security guard had to open the garage for me and escort me to the leasing office. When the woman told me what the starting rates are for one-bedroom apartments, I cringed. I asked her if, even though she wasn’t supposed to suggest other apartments, she could recommend something nice, yet affordable.

I was just really happy that I found a place, had just eaten what tasted like the best chicken sandwich in the world (I was starving before it), and still had time for a nice evening walk before heading back to the airport.

That’s when Alex came to the rescue. He immediately stepped in and told me about a sister property in Newport Beach. He gave me all of the info and let the people there know I was on my way. As soon as I arrived, I knew I had found my home. It just felt so right. I found an apartment I adore, and it’s in the perfect location. It made the fatigue, disheartening moments and tears from throughout the day all worth it.

It’s all happening so fast, and I don’t have a lot of time left in Dallas. I’d be lying if I told you that I’m not a little scared. I’m not afraid of not knowing anyone in a new location—meeting new people and making friends is one of my all-time favorite pastimes. But I’m afraid of leaving my people. I won’t see my parents every Sunday and get a big hug from my mom right before I leave. I won’t be able to get together with my sister as often or stop by her apartment and see her and her husband and their crazy dogs and cat, and that tears me up inside. I won’t be able to hang out with my niece every weekend and visit with my brother and sister-in-law. I never knew I could love a tiny human who wasn’t even my own child this much until I became an aunt. And I can’t get started on all of my friends and my favorite froyo place—we’d be here for hours.

But even though this is going to be difficult, I know it’s right, and I’m incredibly excited. And I know that the people who are in my tribe forever are the ones I will never lose, regardless of where I am or where they are. I’ve said this before, and I still believe it with all of my heart: Love is so much stronger than distance.

And no amount of miles will ever change that.

Sometimes things work out

There are things in life we have to do and often dread having to do them.

Like moving.

I currently can’t think of many more frustrating tasks than moving. It’s just such a pain. You realize how much crap you have that you probably don’t even need, and there’s so much cleaning and manual labor involved, especially when you don’t hire other people to do all of the work for you.

Over the weekend, I moved back out to the city I missed too much during the past year, and the moving process isn’t any less annoying than it’s always been. I had been trying not to stress about it, but the closer it got, the more anxiety I felt. I was pretty worried we weren’t going to have enough people to help or that there wouldn’t be a good place for me to park the U-Haul or that I wouldn’t have my stuff packed in time—and a countless amount of other worries that I really shouldn’t have been stressing out about so much (especially since my move-in date was a week before my move-out date, so I still have some time).

Besides, life is going to work out as it should.

My mom picked me up Saturday to drive me to pick up the U-Haul, and driving that bad boy is a feat in itself. The whole no-rear-view-mirror idea is special. I had to park pretty far from my apartment and still felt slightly concerned about getting it in a convenient spot by the time my moving helpers showed up.

My dad had disassembled my bed frame while we were gone, and I realized I had enough time to make a trip out to my new place to get the keys and unload some clothes. It was an unexpected piece of goodness.

Sitting in an empty apartment and thinking about how happy we are that we’re finished moving furniture.

My friend Maddie called me to let me know she had recruited her friend Chris to help us, which was great news because my brother was only able to help us load the truck and wouldn’t be loaning us his manpower at the new place, too. I had minor concerns about Maddie and me trying to move my sofa by ourselves—it’s kind of a beast. (I mean, we are, too, obviously, but still.) But we had Chris now, so everything worked out alright.

When I got back right before my crew arrived, I noticed two open parking spaces right in front of my building—I had no time to waste. I darted inside, grabbed the key to the U-Haul and took off sprinting toward the truck. I started it up and didn’t even give myself time to use a seat belt (sorry, laws) because I needed to lock down those spots. The truck fit perfectly, meaning yet one more thing worked out in my favor that day.

Then, the spot right in front of the truck (it’s parallel parking) became available, so I was able to move my car there. How was I getting so lucky?

We got everything loaded pretty quickly and headed for my new place. I parked illegally, and we began unloading. As I mentioned, my sofa is rather large, so some individuals voiced concern that it wouldn’t fit through the doors or on the elevator (God bless elevators when you’re moving), but I was confident (read: extremely hopeful) that it would fit—mainly because fitting was the only option. It’s the best napping sofa in the world, and I need it for survival. Ladies, you know when you’re trying to squeeze on a pair of jeans that have recently been washed and dried, and you barely get them on and zipped? That was this couch in the elevator. There was zero room left. It was a Nov. 26 day miracle.

Then there was the screwdriver I forgot. My dad was assembling my bed frame and asked me where the Phillips-head screwdriver was.

Sitting on the floor of my old apartment, of course.

He started going off about not being able to do anything without it, so I said I’d find one. Enter Lauren and Breece, two people who thought they were getting on the elevator to go downstairs and walk their dog. Instead, I asked them for a screwdriver, and they came to the rescue without even hesitating or caring that I hadn’t even properly introduced myself in all of the chaos. Lauren and Breece are clutch.

Moving is stressful. Life is stressful. But every once in a while, things actually work out even when you’re doubtful. No, they certainly don’t always turn out the way you want them to—hopes get dashed, hearts get broken, dreams get crushed, and tears get cried. But I have to believe those hurtful times aren’t wasted. There are reasons we must endure them, whatever those reasons may be. I don’t pretend to understand the way God works, but I do believe He’s good.

So pain can’t be without purpose.

Sometimes those moving moments when things work out when they could have gone terribly actually happen. Life isn’t always a Taylor Swift song of heartache—sometimes it’s “Shake It Off” or “Our Song.”

And it’s important to recognize those sweet moments because they remind you that you’re going to be alright.

Keep those Allen wrenches in your life

There are many things we don’t like to hear people say to us (e.g., “We need to talk”), and some of these things come in the form of questions.

Like, “Will you help me move?”

I hate moving. It’s seriously one of the most frustrating and often stressful processes, and it’s definitely not my ideal way to spend a Saturday during college football season—or any season, for that matter. So, I can imagine the excitement of the crew I asked to help me with the promise of zero monetary compensation but maybe some food. I had a solid team, though, and all of these gems were willing to offer their man (and woman) labor. I had my dad, my sister, Theo (my sister’s boyfriend) and my friend Laz to help load everything from my old apartment to the moving truck and my dad’s car, and then my friend Kiet and his son replaced Laz to help unload when we got to my new apartment.

You might be wondering why I simply didn’t hire movers. Easy. 1. They are expensive. 2. I had a horrible experience with movers a couple of years ago, and that ruined it forever.

Instead, I make people I care about suffer. (Just kidding—I don’t think it was that awful for them.)

This move ended up being not too bad. We started at 11 a.m., and I needed us to be out of the old apartment by 12:30 p.m. so that we could be to the new one by 1 p.m. at the latest. My AT&T setup window was between 1 and 3 p.m., and I just couldn’t risk it. I think the best thing about the entire move, though, was the people I had with me that day. They all played vital roles to help me, and it’s warming to think how much they genuinely care.

We didn’t get a group pic, so here’s my pink tool set

Mr. Meticulous — If you ever have to move (or do anything that involves strategic planning and orchestration), then you want my dad there. He just knows things and makes things magically fit places you didn’t think they would. He also spent a great portion of the day disassembling my bed frame and then putting it back together. Granted, he did get a bit upset with me when he found out I had a set of Allen wrenches in my tool box after he’d been asking for one for a while. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know which one was the Allen wrench. Yes, I put my bed frame together with my own two hands, but it’s from IKEA, so there are only pictures and no words. I know what the wrench looks like, but I had no idea what it was called. But, regardless, my dad came in clutch on Saturday (thanks in part to my pink tool set). We all need people in our lives who want to make sure things are done correctly—not because they want credit or self-satisfaction but because they truly care about us.

The Decoy — My friend Laz is one of those people you want in your life. Always. He’s trustworthy and energetic, and he will make sure to make enough jokes to keep everyone laughing. He picks on me more than I can explain, but my dad says it’s good for me and defends him. He makes situations that aren’t necessarily fun seem more enjoyable than you’d ever imagine. He even started calling himself “THE CHAMP” as he and Theo were carrying my sofa down the garage ramp. (It didn’t fit in the stairs. Picture the Friends “PIVOT” scene.) As soon as Laz would make a trip downstairs, he’d be right back up asking, “What do you need me to do next?” He may treat me like a kid sister he can pick on at will, but he’s one of the best friends I could ever ask for. We all need people in our lives who makes us find joy amidst the struggles.

The Silent Force — Theo is a pretty quiet fella sometimes—especially compared to the aforementioned one—but his positive attitude and kind heart are louder than any words a person could say. He just kept moving stuff without being asked and helped my dad with the bed frame. He’s also an engineer, so he’s kind of a genius when it comes to making sure everything fit in the moving truck. He didn’t have to be there that day, but he was. I’ve always known he’s a great guy, but he keeps showing more and more each day just how big his heart is and how wonderful he is to my sister and all of the people in his life. We all need those faithful people in our lives who remind us what love is and what love does.

The True Ones — Kiet and Tanner (his son) showed up at my new place and didn’t waste any time in helping us get things unloaded. My dad was so impressed with how fast they were able to clear out the truck and his car. Kiet is absolutely one of the most genuine and caring people I’ve ever known, and it’s obvious that his son is a direct reflection of him. They are both so thoughtful, and Tanner is more polite than any high school boy I’ve ever known. We all need people in our lives who remind us that, while there’s a lot of bad that happens in this world, there’s a lot more good out there that doesn’t make the headlines.

The One Who Keeps You Going — I’ve mentioned many times before how important my sister is to me. One thing she’s always been so great and consistent at doing is giving me the best pep talks that ever were. She’s straightforward but not in a way that makes me ever feel bad. In fact, she makes me feel more confident. When I thought we weren’t going to finish in time and that I would have to make another trip out to my old apartment to finish loading things and to do one last sweep through before turning in my keys, she stopped and looked me in the eyes like I was crazy. “What are you talking about? You’re not coming back. We can get this done. Go grab some clothes to put in Dad’s car. We’re making this happen.” And she was right. Whenever I am overwhelmed with life or feeling down about anything, my sister has a way of making me remember that I’m stronger than I think sometimes. We all need motivators in our lives to be there with us when it feels like the world has turned and walked away.

The people in your life have been put there with specific purpose. No, it’s not so they can help you move or to benefit you somehow. It’s so you can have a community of people you deeply care about and who deeply care about you. It’s so you can know the true meaning of love and what it looks like in action. We all have our own roles we play in each other’s lives, and we need one another. I need my Mr. Meticulous. I need my Decoy. I need my Silent Force. I need my True Ones. I need my little One Who Keeps Me Going.

And you have people you need, too.

Life isn’t meant to be spent alone. No, we don’t have to be besties with all of the individuals we encounter in our daily situations. But when we find those special ones who warm our hearts and challenge us to be better people, we need to hang on to those ones. They are the keepers. They are the Allen wrenches we’ve been searching for.

And they will forgive you when you don’t know what an actual Allen wrench looks like.