How Do You Know You’re Ready to Move?

For almost five years, I’ve been living in a small, seaside village on Cape Cod called Woods Hole. Funny story: my original plan was to come here for 30 days and do some writing. I stayed at my grandparent’s summer house (another funny story: my parents met here!) and didn’t have a car, or friends, or wireless. None of that mattered — it felt so good to be away from New York, where I grew up, and where I felt like I was slowly suffocating.

Woods Hole was the biggest breath of fresh, salty air. The house echoed with silence and I loved it. I sat on the faded white couch in the living room and wrote and read for hours, listening to busy mice inside the walls. I wandered into town and bought ingredients for simple dinners; a box of pasta, lemon, cream, eggs, clam chowder.

I befriended the neighbors, too — a quirky woman with a “weekend husband,” and a weathered New England plumber with a limp and pocket full of dog treats, for the neighborhood dogs. They talked to me about upcoming forecasts and reminded me about garbage day.

I fell in love. I got a dog. I learned to drive! I got a car. I got wireless. I made friends. I nannied. I found a few jobs. I started 3 Chairs!!!!

Woods Hole is beautiful. In the spring, it’s brimming with wildflowers. Little frogs sing through the night. In the summer, the town overflows — a sudden mecca of wealthy summer people and bikes and beach umbrellas and fried fish and bonfires and boat rides and American flags. And then September rolls around, and there’s this hush, like Time Square after New Years. The streets clear out. The locals emerge, blinking, their fists slowly unclenching.

Even in its stark, wintery days, Woods Hole is striking. When it storms, gray clouds pass low and heavy over the ocean and waves crash onto my street, like a Winslow Homer painting. This is my home, this is where I’ve made mistakes, where I’ve grown, where I’ve mourned, where I’ve fallen in love; once, twice.

So here I am.

Years have vanished, each one quicker than the last. I’m no longer a recent college grad, fumbling through drunken nights and job interviews. Somewhere along the line, with the passing of months like slow ticks on a clock, I have found myself here, a somewhat formed adult, with a creeping sense that this isn’t it. It’s a feeling that is both tiny and urgent and impossible to ignore. It’s needy, like a newborn.

But the idea of moving, of putting my belongings in boxes and starting a new life gives me such tangible anxiety that it blooms inside me like a weed. It’s terrifying. But maybe I’m due for terrifying. This quote resonated with me:

The day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk to blossom.”–Anais Nin

What about you? Are you thinking about a move? If you’ve made a move recently, how do you feel? Any tips? Thank you so much for reading! You guys are the best sounding board and always have such wonderful insight. XO 

3 thoughts on “How Do You Know You’re Ready to Move?

  1. Ohhhhhh, moving. I’ve surprised myself lately by wondering the same thing… Is it time? What would I DO? Where would I go? I think that if it’s something you feel deep in your heart, and you can’t stop thinking about it, it’s the right time. <3

  2. Joy, I know what you mean about this little voice suggesting, “this is not your forever home.” I live in my current city because I moved here to get my PhD. After I graduated, I stayed for a temporary job that now might actually become a permanent position. The entire time I’ve lived here, this place has always felt temporary too. But now I’m in a position where I might have a job that I really like–which means this place might not be so temporary after all. I have mixed feelings about that. But I also don’t have another place where I’m aching to move. Lately, I’ve been going about my life imagining this place as permanent instead of temporary, to try that on and see how it feels. Life has a funny way of both taking us places we don’t expect to go, and keeping us in places we don’t expect to stay.

  3. Hi Joy! Have you ever listened to the Dear Sugar Radio podcast? I usually get something out of it even when the topic doesn’t directly relate to my own life. One of the episodes from this spring was all about location, and they provided a lot of insight about knowing when a location is or isn’t right for you. It might bring you some clarity.

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