...the blog, that is. :)
Our story begins two and a half years ago when Alyssa and I both left jobs at the same company for what we thought was the job we wanted. Each of us took HR Business Partner roles in the biotechnology field after having stepped away from that industry for roles in high tech. But as Andrew Carnegie once said, success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.
When we started dating, we were both fairly content - with our jobs, with school, with our city, with our lives. I had just purchased my first home, a ten-minute walk from work, and Alyssa moved back into the city after a stint in the suburbs. As our relationship progressed, and we found happiness with one another, we realized that we really weren't really that happy with some of those other things. We found ourselves looking forward to vacations far too much, and dreading returning home to work, school, and our residences even more. Something wasn't right; something wasn't working.
I don't know that either one of us could pinpoint when it happened or how it came up, but I mentioned moving to Colorado after graduating, and Alyssa reminded me how much she always wanted to live in Vancouver, having fallen in love with the city after visiting several times while with her former employer. An idea struck me: what do the two cities have in common that we might find a compromise solution that would appeal to us both?
If you know me at all, compromise isn't really in my vocabulary. But that is part of what Alyssa has taught me about relationships. So when building a list, we had to consider staying near the ocean, which was paramount to Alyssa, and staying near the mountains, my number one criteria. The job market had to be flourishing, and both of us wanted city amenities, without the hassle of inconsiderate bicyclists and crowded neighborhoods that plagues Boston. After whittling away close contenders like both Portlands, Denver, Anchorage (okay, so that was just me) and Vancouver itself (we were realistic about our immigration possibilities), the final list was short: Seattle and San Francisco. Since neither one of us wanted to spend more on housing than we do now, San Fran fell away. Seattle it was. There was just one minor hurdle to cross: neither one of us had ever been there.
So in March, based on some sage advice from my friend and former Seattle resident Jason, we flew out for a week, armed with a "Newcomer's Guide to Seattle", and a list of neighborhoods and attractions that Jason recommended based on his experience there. Our first four days were spent walking the neighborhoods that interested us most - Fremont, Wallingford, Ballard, Phinney Ridge, Queen Anne. And something funny happened in those four days... We realized this wasn't the craziest idea after all.
We had reserved the final three days of our trip for the "tourist" spots, and found that by that point, we had already fallen in love with a couple of restaurants (Brad's Swingside tops the list) and more than a couple of neighborhoods. We were awed by the immediacy of nature in our surroundings. We saw Rainier from the airport window. There were parks everywhere - huge ones like Discovery Park and Gasworks. Mountains circled us on three sides, and the ocean on the fourth - with more mountains behind the bay. Every view was breathtaking, and we could hardly wait for the next five months to pass for us to head west. So we moved it up a month!
With that out of the way came the trip itself. When spending a long weekend at our favorite spot in New Hampshire the previous fall, I told Alyssa about all the places I wanted to visit along the way, and my plan to take the summer to do it. A former boss of mine once told me that if I ever had the chance to move all the way across the country, that I should do it, and take my time to do it (thanks John!!). Alyssa was freaked out. Completely. Moving west without a home or a job was one thing, but to take extra time to do it, without health benefits or money coming in, was something else altogether. Neither one of us had really taken any time off since high school. We both worked constantly, often at multiple jobs, and attended school intermittently. But we talked about it more, and her parents suggested to her that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. After some time to think it through, and some reassurance that this wouldn't bankrupt us, she agreed: six weeks from Boston to Seattle. Done.
Okay, so I'm hoping she'll let us stretch out a little once we get to Wyoming... :)
Now all that was left was to sell my place (it took all of four days using the best real estate agent ever), find temporary housing for our home zoo, quit our jobs, and pack our bags. And that's where we are right now: with our route all planned (see left hand pane), half our belongings in storage with the other half ready to go, and with one week left of gainful employment. We've said our good-byes to the great friends we've made here in Boston, and will do so with our families this week. We've been the recipients of some truly thoughtful gifts and a couple of teary-eyed farewells. We are stressed, we are anxious, we are optimistic.
We are so ready to hit the road.