Monday, July 13, 2009

Year to date

It has now been almost exactly five months since Torsten and I loaded all of our stuff into our car and the moving van and embarked on a three-day drive to Denver. And you know how people say that things simultaneously feel like they happened yesterday and that they happened years ago? Well, this isn't like that. This just flat-out feels like it happens years ago. In the best possible way.

I don't miss DC. I miss living in the same city as my sister and I miss my friends there and I miss being within driving distance of my parents--but I don't miss living in DC. I don't miss our apartment, and I don't miss not having a car and relying on the bus and Metro to get everywhere, and I don't miss working in an office, and I don't miss being the incredibly hot, sticky summer and the cold, gray winter, and I don't miss the very businesslike attitude so many people had and the way nobody talked to strangers and nobody had pets. I just don't miss the city. I don't miss the feel of it.

The thing is that I loved DC while I was there, and before I was there, which is why I chose to move there. I am so glad I lived there, and not just because if I hadn't lived there I would never have met Torsten. It was a great place to move after college, and three years was the right amount of time to live there. And it was my choice to live in DC that got me involved in nonprofit work, which is how I learned that I could combine my love of editing with my desire to do something that felt meaningful to me.

I'm not trying to say that DC sucks, is my point. Because it doesn't, at all. It's a great city with lots to do (and a lot of it is free), and lots of culture and gorgeous architecture and interesting people and it's very multicultural and it has an excellent public transportation system and some really lovely parks. It has a vibe and a feeling and a culture all of its own, and that's fantastic.

But it wasn't the city for me, and so I don't miss it.

Also, five months in, I cannot possibly be more glad that I ended up keeping my job. I love working from home, absolutely love it, but it's more than that. And I love the excellent benefits I get (the perks of working for a nonprofit--they pay very little but they make up for it in benefits), but it's more than that, too.

I love my job itself. I love the work that I do and the people that I work with. I love that they value me as much as I value them. I love that I've been given the latitude to move in the direction I want with my work. I love that even from 1600 miles away, I feel very involved in my office and our work. I love that I'm good at what I do and that I have learned so much about public health in the past 3+ years that I've been working in the field.

I feel valuable. I feel like I'm contributing. I feel like the work I do is meaningful. I really ENJOY working. And I also enjoy that I work at a place that really values work-life balance, that does more than just pay lip service to it, that actively encourages it.

When I first got into public health after college, it was basically by accident. I was applying to every editing-related job I could find in DC, and the one I ended up with was in the nonprofit public health field, and it was a pretty good first job. And then a coworker from my first job left the company and a few months later gave me a call to tell me about a position that had opened up at her new company, and I ended up getting that job, and really liking it.

If I had taken the new job in Denver, things would be very different. I would be much more about online marketing and social media and not really at all about editing. I would be working in the private sector getting a higher salary but much worse benefits, and probably working much longer hours. The guy who offered me the job was great, and I'm sure I would have enjoyed working with him, but I don't think that ultimately I would have wanted to stay with that company, or in that field, forever.

Whereas with the job I have, I feel like it's really a CAREER. I could see staying with this job, moving up within the company but continuing to do the same type of work, indefinitely. And I think I'd be happy doing it. So I think it was the much better option for me. And I'm glad I figured that out in time to accept their offer. Even though I will always be grateful to the company whose job I turned down for opening up the opportunity for us to move to Denver, even though it turned out I didn't actually need that job to do it.

What about you guys? Are you happy with the city you live in and the job you work in? Or do you want to change one or the other, or both?


  1. It's funny--I am moving to DC to start a new job next month and am so looking forward to it! My parents and little brother live in the area, though I didn't grow up there, and I've made lots of short visits and spent several summers and short periods of time working there. So I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it. I agree with you that some cities are better fits than others for people--personally, if I weren't going to DC I could see myself in Boston or Minneapolis, or perhaps some other places I'd like to learn more about...(Madison, Missoula, Columbus, Detroit, Baltimore, Philly, maybe Portland). I'm glad Denver's a good match for you!

  2. We're in our third city for our 5 years of marriage and I finally feel we're somewhere that is HOME to me. I love it here for many reasons. Now that my hubby has lost his job, I'm terrified we're going to have to move again. If we do, we'll be fine as long as we're all together, but I'd really prefer to stay here.

    I was born in Denver, lived there til I was 4 and have visited family every year since, but it's never seemed like home to me. I love the mountains, though. I think they get into your blood and I don't think I could ever be without them for too long.

  3. When I was about your age, I made a huge decision NOT to seek the high-paying career in preference for a very manageable work-life balance. I stopped traveling with work. I severely slowed my earning potential. And I definitely don't have a glitzy title. But, that was 9 years ago and one of the best decisions I ever made. I love my life as a result. And I think the only thing I'd change is eventually we'd like to own a house instead of a condo.

    I'm so glad you have no regrets about your time in DC (you grew into the person you are while living there) and your move to Denver (oh the possibilities you have with this move)!

  4. I currently don't love either the place I live or the job I work, but I am making progress towards changing that. I'm so glad that you love Denver, I have never been there, but my boyfriend's brother goes to college there and loves it.

  5. That's a loaded question for my husband and me! (Are you ready for my pity party?!)

    I didn't want to move here in the first place. But I was being a supportive spouse as my husband did.

    Ten years later, we're still here. The city has grown on me. I love it here in the summer. I have some really good friends. We had three kids and bought a house. But I still don't exactly feel as if this is "home." We talked about moving out of state a few times, but the expense, unsettling the kids, and the fear of not finding jobs has kept us back.

    I do NOT like my job. And I feel sort of "stuck" and depressed about the whole job situation. I pump myself up my reminding myself that I'm here FOR MY FAMILY--it's no shame to do a job that is unfulfilling if your family needs you to do it. I remind myself that many, many folks now-a-days would KILL to have a job similar to this. I put on my happy face and go to work for my family. And desperately try to keep the hope alive that I will EVENTUALLY be able to afford to go back to school to make things in that path better.

    Until then, I am focusing on my family and enjoying this city in the beautiful summers we get!

  6. I am never leaving this city. I want to buy a house in the next neighborhood over and live there until I am ready for The Home, except I will be one of those old ladies who refuses to go to The Home, and I'll die in that house and they'll bury me in the cemetery in the next neighborhood over. Get that? NOT LEAVING EVER.

    I often wonder what my life would have been like if I'd found a Career. Or even a job I liked doing. I'm jealous. The mommyblogger gig has introduced me to some jobs I might like to do in a few years, but the fact remains that everything (seriously, EVERYTHING) I might like to do for 8 straight hours a day are things I would have to do for free. Thank God my husband has a bit more ambition.

  7. I live in Western Australia, in the world's most isolated capital city which is a major downside. I've lived here five years and I am unsure whether I'd call it 'comfortable' or 'home' because both involke similar feelings for me. When I'm in Australia, I call New Zealand home and when I'm visiting NZ I cant wait to go 'home' to Perth so clearly I'm confused lol.

    Hate my job, but my dream job has just been advertised and I'm very tempted to apply!

  8. I LOVE where I live, and I'm happy in my job (although some days are more challenging/stressful than I'd like). This is home to us.

    I'm so glad that you've found the right fit - sounds like it works for both of you.

  9. I love that you're looking back and are happy with the choices you've made, and that things are working out so swimmingly.

    Since we spend so much of our lives working in our careers, it really is important to find a career that we enjoy and that meets our financial needs, in that order I'd say (for our mental health!).

    I enjoy my job but I'm still trying to come to terms with ending up in a field that was different from what I planned to. I like my city too, but I want to explore it more...weird to say since I've had 18 years to explore the city more! Oh well :)

  10. Reading this post makes me so excited about the next couple of months for me. I've loved living in NYC, but I've also hated so and I'm so ready to leave. And I loved living in Austin and growing up there, so I'm hoping it will be a good fit one I get back. As far as the job thing, I don't have one yet, but I'm hoping to find one that I love, I feel in meaningful, and I enjoying going to every day.

  11. I don't miss DC either Jess. A good place to live at a certain time in our lives but I don't miss the traffic or the loneliness I felt. I'm glad you and Torsten and Montana are loving Denver. All the best!

  12. Just a question - and i'm not sure if you've already talked about this - how did you get involved in editing? Were you an english or journalism major? Or did you just fall into it somehow?
    I'm always curious to find out how people get into the jobs that they have - and more importantly the jobs they love.

  13. I'm jealous of your job situation. I'm an editor (and writer) as well, and I also like it, but I'm not as excited about the specific context I'm in as you are. Good for you for having found such a great company. I'm glad working from home has worked out so well for you!

  14. After college, I wanted to move to Maryland or NYC so I could be with the rest of my college classmates, but I never got a job out there, even after applying several times. I came back to CO, where I grew up, and fell into a job. Looking back on it, I'm glad I didn't go out East. I'm content with being here. I just wish more friends would visit :)

  15. i love me some dc, as you already know - i stayed here through the collapse of my first company when 80% of my friends subsequently left to pursue other fields. i don't ever want to leave, though - i want to raise my kids here one day, where they have access to all the amazing things here in the city, with NYC close by, and the mountains just a 45 minute drive away for some hiking and camping.

    the only other place i've felt so "settled" and like it's "home" is chicago - i can't wait to go back in 2 weeks for blogher!

  16. Hmm. I currently live in Los Angeles. It doesn't wear on me as badly as it does for some people (I do love the weather, or lack of it). For me it's about 1) Having to use vacation to visit my family in Boston and 2) Having difficulty at the thought of raising kids in California (even N. California). I've lived all over the place and in every environment (urban, rural, suburban) though-rural Canada, suburban Boston (right outside the city), downtown Montreal (undergrad), rust belt Indiana, Washington D.C., rural Illinois (law school) and now Los Angeles. I work in downtown L.A. and live in Pasadena, which is basically a suburb but right smack against the city (which is basically glorified sprawl). And that's not even counting when my father was on longer research assignments and the fact that I was born overseas.

    They all have their plus and minus points. Longterm I want to get back to Boston even though I love, love, love the work culture on the West Coast. All the attorneys I work with on the West Coast? Good humoured, relaxed, charming. All my East Coast clients? Humourless, uptight, demanding and rude.

    As far as my job goes-it's okay. I have the lawyering dream job but it bores me and I'm planning to transition into finance. I went to law school when I was very young. I'm good at it and it's provided me with an amazing background for finance-but it's not what I want to do for the rest of my life.

    I think long-term I'd like to be back in Boston (or NYC, if I have to, even though I loathe the city) and keep a cottage in the country somewhere.

  17. I'm glad you love your job! That's great!

    I love the city I live in now, and it would take something catastrophic for me to move voluntarily. My job is sahm, so some days I love it and some days... not as much.

  18. If I could move both where I live and get a new career, that would be ideal. My job is just that - a job. It pays the bills and I use my degree but it doesn't make me fulfilled and happy. The job market is terrible in our city though so I am thankful to even have a job. As for moving, I would love to. There is NOTHING where I live and I would love to move somewhere that has culture and not so many ignorant people. However, with stepkids living near us, that is out of the question.

  19. damn right you miss living in the same city as your sister!!!!

  20. It's so great that you've found a place that feels like home to you. I had that same experience when I relocated to Seattle. It was a hard decision for me to make, leaving the comfort of CA and friends but I do not regret it at all. In fact, I feel so blessed that I found my true home.

  21. I need a new location AND a new job. Hopefully that will happen next year!

  22. I'm so glad you're happy there! I can't believe it's been that long. Overall, yes, I'm happy in Chicago. I love the city and I like my job, but sometimes, I wish I could afford a condo. That's what is alluding me.

  23. I'm so glad that the move has been so positive for you! The process can be so BIG, but it seems like everything has fallen perfectly into place for you- thank goodness!

    I'm glad you can just enjoy what you guys have been working so hard for.

  24. I'm commenting anonymously, which is something I've oddly done before here, but never do anywhere else. It's your very good questions, that I want to answer, but can't answer honestly without going all anonymous. SORRY.

    I'm happy with the city I live in, but it's not what I expected. I thought I'd like to live away. But while I WAS living away (in Minnesota), my biological mother (who I was close to) died. She was schizophrenic & I felt HORRIBLE guilt that I wasn't geographically close for her.

    Then my brother died. While it didn't matter that was living far away from home in this regard, I couldn't shake that same guilty feeling. Then my older sister went very suddenly insane & was diagnosed also with schizophrenia.

    I had to move home. I'm glad I did, even though it was a HUGE sacrifice on the part of my husband, whose heart is still in Minnesota, but who followed me without much question. But we are close to my nieces & nephews (including my older sister's kids), and my siblings. We watch out for my sister. I don't think, not any time in the next twenty years, it would be acceptable to move away.

    Luckily, we have jobs we love. It's amazing that worked out (after several years of jobs we DIDN'T like), and I really can't complain at all.

  25. Wow, I can't believe it has already been that long since you guys moved. I remember when you were posting about it!

    I love where I live (Los Angeles) life is truly established here, and I can't imagine wanting to move any time soon.

  26. We've been here for almost three months and it feels like forever. We LOVE it here! Close to home, close to friends, and the cooler-than-usual summer we're having suits me remarkably well.

    As for my job? Well....some days are good, some days drive me crazy. ;)