What I learned by moving away from family + friends

Drew and I moved from Boston to Kenosha, Wisconsin in October 2016. At the time, I was excited for our next adventure, scared for what the future held and sad to leave my family and friends back in Massachusetts. I had no idea however how much this move would challenge our relationship in ways we both were not anticipating and how deeply lonely and isolated I would feel at times. But, it also forced us to become more open and honest with each other, helped us learn what we both needed in times of stress and overall made us a stronger, more united couple that I believe will stay with us throughout our marriage. It also made me cherish my relationships with the ones I love and not take for granted time spent with them.

But let me take a few steps back and give you a little background…

I grew up about 30 minutes north of Boston. My immediate family are all from Massachusetts and the majority of them have not moved out of state (my sister moved 40 minutes away from my parents house and, at the time, that was a big deal!) I went to college in Rhode Island and so all my close friends from middle school, high school and college are also all from Massachusetts. So, needless to say, my entire life was based in New England!

Drew was born in New Hampshire but moved to Georgia when he was little. He stayed down there until he was in 6th grade when he moved back up New Hampshire with his parents and younger brother. He stayed in New Hampshire until he moved to Ohio for college and then California after grad school for a couple years. He eventually moved back to Boston (so he could meet me,duh!) and we both lived in Southie until we moved to Wisconsin. Both of Drew’s grandfathers were in the military so growing up, both his mom and dad moved around the country a lot. Due to this, his family is pretty spread out. His parents live in New Hampshire, his grandparents live in Florida and Delaware and he has aunts, uncles and cousins in California, South Dakota, Delaware, Maine, etc.

So growing up, we both had two pretty different lifestyles. Neither one is better than the other, but they were different and shaped us to who we are as people now. Drew is used to traveling to see family and friends and having long distance relationships whereas I was only familiar with driving 40 minutes max to see all my loved ones. So when we decided to make the move, it was a scenario Drew was comfortable and familiar with and not so much with me.

But we did it, we packed up our things and made the drive out! It was October and we were getting married that following July so on top of a cross country move, Drew starting a new job, me finding and then starting a new job, we also had a long distance wedding to plan!

First step was closing and moving into our new fixer upper home. Drew is the most handy and hard working person I know. Even if there is something he does not know how to do, he will read about it and learn how to do it perfectly (one of his many wonderful traits). So we redid our entire house ourselves aka Drew redid our entire house and I cheered him on, held things in place, made recommendations when needed and so on. We started by getting new floors and redoing the kitchen: painted the cabinets, new countertops, new light fixtures, etc. Drew would come home from work and we would work on things for a few hours every evening and every weekend try and hammer out as much as we could. It was definitely stressful at times having the heart of your new home in an uproar and not having anywhere else to go to have a little reprieve from the construction site but it was worth it in the end. Once the kitchen was done, we took our time doing the other updates: painting, redoing the bathrooms, replacing the doors and light fixtures, etc.

During all of this, I was studying for my NASM CPT exam but did not have an actual job yet. I went to the library in town most days to study and get away from the chaos of our under construction home. I knew this is what I wanted to do inevitably but I missed working in an office/studio and having coworkers, clients, etc to interact with all day. I started to feel very lonely, insecure and homesick. I missed my family and friends back in MA and felt like I didn’t have a purpose each day without a job to go to. Without any coworkers or any new friends to confide in, I started to depend solely on Drew. He would come home from work stressed after long days and I would feel resentment towards him if I did not receive his undivided attention as soon as he walked in the door. I knew I was acting immature and selfish but after being by myself all day, every day and feeling so out of place and far away from everyone who I loved I couldn’t keep a happy face and just did not feel like myself. I would cry almost every day and although I loved talking to my family and friends, sometimes hearing from them made me more sad and lonely. They were continuing on with their lives and I felt like mine was in a standstill almost. I hated hearing about holidays, birthdays or other occasions, no matter how big or small that I wasn’t able to attend and felt like I was losing all my friends.

A few months passed, I passed my NASM CPT test and found a Personal Training job at the Kenosha YMCA as well as becoming a cycling instructor at The Dailey Method in Lake Forest, IL. It felt great to be working in the field I wanted to be in, meeting new people and feeling like I had a purpose once again. I still missed home though and still felt very out of place. We lived in a great neighborhood but were the only couple who either did not have young children or were retired. Our neighbors were great and so friendly and welcoming but we just felt like we did not have much in common with anyone. Wedding planning also started to ramp up and Drew and I were traveling back and forth to MA for various things pretty frequently. It was great to go home and see people but every weekend was always so jam-packed we both felt like we were being spread too thin and never able to see and spend time with everyone we wanted to.

It was a challenging time for both of us individually and as a couple. We were both still trying to figure each other out and now had all of these additional hurdles thrown at us. We had to learn how to stick together as a team and put each other ahead of everyone and everything else going on. I honestly think it was such a blessing in disguise not having any family or friends local to us because when things got tough, we ONLY had each other. Whenever we had an argument, we had to stick it out until it was resolved. I couldn’t drive to my sisters for the night and vent to her and Drew couldn’t go to his brothers. We were in it together and it forced us to really open up and communicate with each other on a very raw and real level.
We got married in July, went to Ireland (best place EVER) and Mallorca for our honeymoon, settled into married life for a bit and then embarked on our next adventure–our first child; a goldendoodle named Freddy!

Now a year and a half later, we’re embarking on our next adventure…moving back East to Rochester, NY! We are both so excited to be closer to our New England family and friends especially with the little babe on the way! I know there will be new obstacles for us as we make a life in our new home as well as beginning our journey into parenthood but I think the challenges we have faced already will help us navigate through any new ones.

I still feel homesick, loneliness and feelings of loss for a previous life. But what I can tell you is that if you are ever in a situation similar to mine, focus on why you’re there and who you’re there with. We moved to Wisconsin for a great opportunity for Drew. I was able to live out my dream and refocus my career. We bought our first home and made it our own. We met so many wonderful people and adopted our first fur-baby. Drew and I’s relationship has grown stronger and without the challenges we faced, we never would be at the level we are now with one another.

As far as being away from family and friends. I’m not going to lie–it sucks at times. I wish everyone I loved lived on the same cul-de-sac together! Not being near loved ones doesn’t mean they’re gone forever but it does mean you have to cherish your time with them. Don’t sweat the small stuff that may irritate you about going or doing something you don’t really want to do. Focus on who you’re doing it with and why they’re important to you. Make the most of your time even if that means a tired Monday morning. Stay in touch as best as you can even if that means just a quick email or text message to ask how they’re doing. Relationships and people inevitably always change and that’s a good thing! Drew and I aren’t the same people we were 3 years ago, we’ve grown up and our priorities have shifted. We’re focused now on our growing family and our decisions are based off that. Regardless though, family will always be there and if you have friends who have turned into family, they’ll always be there too. They may be there in different ways, but they’ll be there.