In case you’re new here, I will give a quick intro. Exactly a year ago, my family and I moved to Napa, California from Atlanta, Georgia. Here is the post that talks about why we moved, and here is the post that talks about why we came home after only nine months on the West Coast.
When I think about how many painful and simultaneously beautiful that time was for me, my head spins. It was a blur that felt like a vapor, but at the same time- it seemed like an eternity… (an eternity running in mud with lead tied to my feet, but I digress.) There were so many amazing things about being there. We were a short drive away from arguably some of the most beautiful sites in the country. I met some of the best friends I have ever had there, and my third child came into the world there. Our time in California held many beautiful moments.
Unfortunately, it was also hell. (*sings* Don’t know what ya got, til it’s gooonnne…)
Can we talk about how things are always more hellish in retrospect? I think, as a rule, when we are surviving something difficult, we downplay the side effects as a defense mechanism. “This is fine. I’m fine. It’s fine.” Then, you logically realize that something has to give and it’s not working the way you planned. So. You go through the motions and then one day you wake you and BAM: Hindsight comin’ at ya in 20/20 vision. California was a hard time. I was a worse mom, a worse wife, a worse friend. I woke up everyday and just tried to make it to the next day. I was not on my A-game. (Quick interjected apology to anyone whose birthday I forgot or email I never answered.)
So, now that I have had three months to reflect, I wanted to sit with some gratitude (and a bit of humility) and share the things I didn’t know how much I would need in my life until I got them (back).
Tyler’s commute home in the evening is now 25 minutes, and he almost always leaves work at 5. This is compared to the anywhere between one and two hour commute in the Bay Area. Every mom knows that seconds feels like days at Witching Hour, so your husband’s commute home is kind of a big deal. Not to mention the fact that it felt like I was literally never seeing my husband. The first day of Tyler getting home in daylight and before dinner time… I almost squealed.
In California we were in an 1100sqft, 2BR/2BA apartment. We are now in a 2000sqft, 3BR/2.5BA home in a wonderful neighborhood with a huge fenced yard (for $800 LESS a month than we paid in Napa. Yes, I am serious.) We are minutes away from literally any kind of restaurant or family activity you could dream up, and no more than an hour from all the things the city of Atlanta has to offer, INCLUDING a huge airport hub with cheap flights to anywhere. Did I mention I have all my first world/millennial desires (that I didn’t have in Napa) like delivery services and DRIVE-THROUGHS. Do not get me started on the drive-through issue of Napa Valley.
Holy cow, you have no idea how much I missed those things. Getting all three kids in the car (including a newborn) twice a day is a pain. I realize lots of people do it every day, but Napa had no buses unless you lived super far out. I could not be more blessed that the school bus picks up G at the stop sign by our house and drops him back off in the afternoon. Life changing.
(MORE) AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE
Childcare is never cheap. BUT. I had no idea that California is oblivious to what “Mother’s Morning Out” programs are. Almost every church here has them. They are basically really affordable childcare programs for kids 2+ years old. For a very low rate, Moms get 4 hours a day of childcare. It’s amazing and I was aghast when I realized it was unheard of where I lived in CA.
I freaking missed storms you guys. We didn’t have storms, unless you count fire storms and those are not quite as fun. People rave about the weather, but I really missed listening to a good lightening and thunder storm from under the covers.
California is huge, duh. There are bigger cities and varying cultures and I am sure my experience would have been relative to where I was there. We lived in a very specific region (wine country) that was very much tailored to the wealthy, not the middle class. As much as we sought (and found) free thinking people, beautiful landscape, laid-back lifestyles, a progressive culture, and a near perfect climate…
It didn’t fit the price tag. It wasn’t worth not having any of the things I have now. It wasn’t worth the struggle or the budget woes or the tears or the stress. We love where we are now and are thriving. We finally don’t feel like we are swimming upstream and I can’t imagine ever paying for California life, even if we had it to spend.
Yeah, Georgia is definitely not known as a progressive state, but it has it’s pockets. And no, we don’t have cliffs that look over into the neon blue Pacific ocean or breathtaking redwood trees, or thousands of acres of vineyards… but, we have the Antebellum architecture that I missed (while surrounded by stucco Spanish style homes). We have the oak tree lined cobblestone streets of historic Savannah and the sand dunes of Jekyll Island. We have four seasons and thunderstorms and boiled peanuts and fried okra. My sweet grandmother is a day trip away and I won’t miss her final years.
It’s not so bad here, and I am glad life pointed me to this exact place with no regrets, only clarity. I’m also thankful for the courage to step out and take the risk. Life is too short not to find out for yourself.
“Whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should…”