Lately I have found myself doubting our decision to move way out here in the country. This puzzles me, because I year ago I couldn't move out of our old house fast enough. I was 100% sure that moving was the right decision, and was so happy to find our house and begin making plans for moving and remodeling.
As the year has gone on, we have certainly faced more challenges than I anticipated. Contact with our neighbors is infrequent, and I didn't really realize the degree of loneliness that would bring. One thing I really hated about our old neighborhood was that I couldn't step outside without seeing SOMEONE, either in a yard nearby or jogging on the path that ran behind our house. I couldn't even let the damn dog out in the morning without someone seeing me in my robe. I really wanted some privacy. Here, I have all the privacy I can stand and then some.
Our kids are adjusting, but my daughter had a much harder time with the transition than I thought she would. She really missed her friends, but didn't seem to want to invite them over either. It was as if it would be too painful to see them. Our boys often only have each other for playmates, and none of the kids are as eager to explore our new acreage as we expected them to be.
And the remodeling? Pure hell. It has taken twice as long and cost 50% more than we thought. As bad as everyone says it is? Totally true.
In short, nothing turned out like we planned. Hence, my doubts. I keep thinking we should have waited, or should have bought a different house, or should have learned to be happier where we were. Then I doubt my doubts. Why am I questioning this decision when I was so sure it was the right one at the time? That's not how I usually roll--when I make a decision, I think it through, make it, and then move on. I was having trouble doing that, and I had to figure out why.
I finally realized it was because even though I didn't want to live in our old house or our old neighborhood anymore, that was where I felt safe. It was familiar--I knew where everything went in that house. Here, we are constantly moving and rearranging things as the remodeling progresses. Our kids share a room right now and nothing is where it will be in a few months. I still don't feel moved in and probably won't for some time. It takes longer to do everything out here--from taking the garbage to the curb to clearing the driveway when it snows to getting groceries. A major adjustment. At our old house, I knew the routes to school and the grocery store and how long it took to get everywhere else from that house. I'm still learning all that here. Spending so much time alone during the day here has also forced me to think about why I might miss the superficial and sometimes downright unpleasant contact I used to have with my old neighbors. It occurred to me that even though I didn't like certain people in my old neighborhood, I KNEW them--I was used to their eccentricities and foibles. I'm meeting new people, and so far almost everyone is wonderful, but they are all NEW--I don't have that sense of belonging that I used to have.
So what I'm missing is not really WHAT I used to have--it's the feeling that surrounded it. The feeling of being in a familiar place with familiar people. That's what I miss--my safety net. I knew who I could call if my car broke down or I needed help with a project. We have wonderful friends who live fairly close to us in our new place, but they can't be my whole village. I'm building that new village slowly and carefully, but it's going to take some time. Until then, I have to fly without a net. It's scary as hell, but I do have faith that I will get to the point where my new village feels just as safe and familiar as the old one. I also have faith that the home and the life we are trying to build out here is the one our family was meant to have, and that in the long run our kids will be happier and more confident because we made this choice.
When I really sit down and think about it, I don't want to go back to where we were. I just want to move forward faster--speed up the process somehow. I know I can't, and I just have to let things unfold in their own time. And there's a freedom I have now that I didn't have before. Because no one knows ME very well either, I'm free to think about the kind of life I want to build for myself and my family here. For the first time, I feel as though I'm in a place where other people's expectations really don't matter. No one is looking over my shoulder (or into my backyard) to see what I'm doing. I don't have to join groups I don't want to join, or volunteer for things I don't want to volunteer for. I can chart my own course. That's pretty exciting stuff.
Another realization for me was that perhaps I have finally reached a point in my life where I don't need as much of a safety net as I once did. I chose my old neighborhood based largely on its location, but also based on the fact that the houses were new, nice, and neat. Safe. Comfortable. The yard was small, but we also reasoned that that would mean less work. By the end of our time there, the smallness of the yard and the restrictions of our homeowners' association felt incredibly confining. I wanted my children to be able to dig a hole, build a fort, or run with a dog without worrying who would be bothered. Now they can--and the fact that they haven't done all those things yet shouldn't worry me. They also need to feel safe here before they venture out into the woods. That too will come in time. In the end, maybe we can all learn to fly without a net, and realize that the risks you take are the only ones that really count.