This wasn't a surprise: we have been quite vocal about how we are prepping our very lovely condo for market, working with an organizer, Susan (who has quite frankly made this house so wonderful, it is even harder to consider moving). We don't have a good answer, though, and we were asked so many times where/when/how/why, we realized it is well past time for us to make some big choices.
Knowing you don't want to stay where you are is only the first step, but wouldn't it be nice if that was all you had to know? If the universe aligned to give you a cosmic sign, if your guardian angels whispered your next step in your ear, if all signs and opportunities led to one fateful place, where everything would make sense? If wishing made it so, we'd already be moved and settled in the place we need to be.
Being an adult so rarely relies on wishing, though—as my friends and I have chatted about quite a bit recently, this whole "When you grow up you can do whatever you want!" sentiment was way oversold by our parents, and it is not the theme-park fantasy we imagined when we were ten. Sure, you can live wherever you want, if you can afford it, have job security, have people in your network to help you, etc. When it is your home, you can certainly make all the rules, but of course, you will also pay for all the repairs, do all the cleaning, and be shocked over how much it costs to buy things like lamps and rugs. When you have choices, you will have gains and losses, and the big magic trick of adulthood may be learning how to settle in and deal with both simultaneously in an upbeat and practical way.
So, where will we go? We don't know. Chicago has become home, as all places do, but especially places with as much to offer as this one. We've been spoiled by kind neighbors, a gorgeous neighborhood, and access to everything—EVERYTHING—we could possibly want to eat/do/experience/purchase/explore at our doorstep. We have also come to realize that living on the fourth story is not a good fit for us anymore—older relatives will soon no longer be able to visit us, and others who are not ambulatory have never been able to do so. What we purchased as a temporary place for the purpose of attending graduate school has served its purpose, and now, we must find the next spot.
We've learned that, at least for us, it takes roughly seven years to make a place truly home. Seven years can help you find friends, establish routines, learn all the sneaky routes to all the stores and activities that you frequent, and generally feel a part of a place. We did it in DC. We did it here. We can do it again. Years two-three can feel slow and sad, but seven years goes surprisingly fast.
How do I feel about this? Terrified. It's one thing to know something doesn't work well anymore, it is another thing entirely to launch into the unknown. Again, if I could just get some tea leaves to speak to me, this would be so much easier, and I find it very aggravating that a) I don't like tea, and b) no one else's cup has given them any signs we could use.
Our post-holiday schedule now looks something like this:
1) Evaluate our finances (again)
2) Set some goals/actions for savings
3) Contact realtor (again)
4) Finish up house projects/staging
5) Get pre-approved for a loan (so we know what we are looking at)
6) Continue to conduct widespread job search (for me) in areas where we want to live, including, but not limited to, the Chicago area
7) Breathe, try not to overeat from stress, breathe some more
8) Do a big whiteboard exercise where we exhaust all the pros and cons of every possibility, and then just take a giant leap
9) Breathe some more
10) Pray for patience and insight, then ask for help on the ground.
But if anyone wants to read our palms or have a vision on our behalf beforehand, we'd gladly take it.