Exactly one month ago we were tying up all the loose ends of our lives in Philadelphia. As soon as Michael got off work that afternoon, he picked up our Budget truck and within a few hours the movers had all of our boxes and furniture loaded up and ready to go. If you've been following our journey for a little while, you already know that our move from Philly to Boston is our third move since we began our married lives a little over 2 years ago. In less than 2.5 years we've now lived in 4 completely different states in multiple regions of the country. And yet, as we prepared to say goodbye to Philadelphia we were blessed - for the first time in the past couple years - to have a real community to say goodbye to.
Sure, Ann Arbor was our first home together and we still love and miss that parish - the one where Michael received all his Sacraments of Initiation when he officially became Catholic during our engagement. Before the move, we made sure to say goodbye to his RCIA instructors and a good friend we had met at church. Michael also had some close college friends in/around the area and we were only 45 minutes from Michael's sister - but despite our efforts to attend various Catholic young adult groups we struggled to find new friendships and become more fully integrated in the community. Ann Arbor often left us feeling alone - because as newlyweds that did not yet have a child we found ourselves constantly in an odd sort of "in between" all the single young professionals and young families surrounding us. When we left Michigan we knew we'd miss several aspects of Ann Arbor (if you ever go you need to eat at Asian Legend - and about a million other places), but we were more than ready for a fresh start somewhere else.
Southern Florida is forever the first home our son lived in, considering he was born about a week after the move. Florida holds all our memories of his newborn days and the beautiful sunshine and warm walks made our lives there feel like an extended (and very welcome) vacation - but it was just that. The project was only 6 months long and landed us in a retirement community, so we had little to no opportunities for building long-term friendships. Instead, we chose to utilize that time to focus on our family of three and just enjoy the time we had there together. When we headed north to Pennsylvania you'd better believe that, socially, we were dying to go someplace we could meet some people our age.
As soon as we arrived in Philadelphia and people heard that we moved from Southern Florida in the middle of January (during the winter of the "polar vortex," no less) we got more than a few incredulous looks and/or comments. However, just like all of our moves, we had prayed and trusted that God was leading us where He wanted us next. Michael and I had a very good feeling about all our lives could become throughout our time there, and I'm so happy to say that Philly met - and often exceeded - our expectations in every aspect.
Socially, we were surrounded by young adults. We encountered friends close in age, values/priorities, interests, and morals. Spiritually, we found ourselves in a diocese rich with opportunities for community and growth and we found a parish that, for the first time since Michigan, was tugging at our hearts. Within a few months I had somehow been offered a leadership position with the local Catholic young adult group we were part of, and those friendships and connections gave me the insight and extra motivation I needed to step up and create a Catholic Moms Group for the same area. Pretty soon Michael had friends, I had friends, we had friends - and through the moms group I finally befriended some great moms - and their sons and daughters became Gabriel's first real playmates (outside of family holiday visits with his cousins). I no longer felt isolated as a stay-at-home mom and I had even found ways to get involved and use some of my skills in ministry to give back and even add things to the local community - two things that helped me feel far more fully like myself than I could ever say about our time elsewhere.
Pennsylvania was so unlike our time in Michigan or Florida. As we prepared to move away, we knew that this time we needed the opportunity to say some real goodbyes (or "see you later"s)...so we hosted an actual Goodbye Party!
After all our things were loaded onto the truck, several of our friends came over to eat pizza and share our final evening in town with us. Much like my birthday, I was taken completely by surprise when some of these friends came bearing goodbye gifts. How incredibly thoughtful and sweet of them! More importantly, though, we were able to spend one last night reminiscing and laughing with some truly great people. We only lived near Philly for just less than a year, but what a blessed year it was! 2014 was so good to us and I cannot thank God enough for all that He gifted us with in Pennsylvania.
|One of our friends made us 2 mixed CDs (one for each driver) for our move!|
Which brings us to the here and now.
Tomorrow will be exactly one month since we made the move and I'm happy to report that we are settling in quite nicely. Our apartment is amazing (with a remarkably good location), we've already found our new parish home, and through the grace of God I've already begun making mom friends! Not to mention, Michael's job is living up to everything he/we hoped it would be.
The blatantly obvious icing on this entire Boston cream cake (see what I did there?) is that - for the first time in our married lives - we live near family! I've secretly (or not so secretly, if you're my husband) hoped that every single one of our moves would bring us to the Boston area so we could be near my sister, brother-in-law, and their children. Sure enough, God brought us here in His good time. Now we're able to do things like an impromptu Sunday night family dinner (which totally happened last night when my sis and her family were nearby after attending a baptism party), go on dates before vetting all our new friends as possible babysitters (because, hi, we have family who can watch Gabriel!), have sister and cousin play dates while our husbands are at work, and countless more.
Philadelphia blessed us beyond belief, but our new home in the Boston area is undoubtedly gonna be good.
“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
-T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding