2013 was a year of firsts and monumental decisions.
Derrick and I successfully made it through a year of living together (without killing each other)
We graduated college
Derrick moved to North Dakota for a job
I got my first full-time post-grad job
We bought our first car together
I quite my first ‘big girl’ job
I moved to North Dakota with Derrick
And, although its not entirely relevant, we also bought a dog together 🙂
When Derrick Left
The weekend after we graduated, and three days before the huge graduation party my parents had been planning for us for months, Derrick decided to move to North Dakota. He took me for a walk on his parents vineyard and we sat under this beautiful willow tree overlooking the property and the Umpqua River.
It sounds like a magical moment in the making but I was crying and Derrick was not making it any better as we discussed our future.
Derrick had had a come-to moment and realized the career and success he wanted wasn’t going to be in Oregon. Being the fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants person that he is, he had decided he was going to move to North Dakota. Derrick had wanted to go into the oil business ever since I met him, so this wasn’t something we hadn’t already discussed, I just didn’t expect it to happen over night.
After some convincing I got him to agree to at least stay for the party that was being thrown for us but 6am the morning after I was saying goodbye through teary eyes and holding on to him as tightly as I could.
I literally did not know when I would see him again. We had just spent two years building a life together and moving forward together and now he was taking an abrupt right turn while my path kept going straight.
The long distance is not what concerned me.
We had already done that when he would leave for weeks to dive commercially on the coast.
Long distance was the easy part.
The part I was having a hard time with was figuring out was the direction of our lives from this point on.
Was I going to stay in Oregon and experience this incredible part of my life separate from Derrick?
Was our long distance situation going to be long term? How long term?
How would our conversations go when I couldn’t relate or even imagine the life experiences he was having in a place I had never been?
Like I said, long distance was the easy part.
A Lot of Crying…Like A Lot
The next couple months were a roller coaster. Professionally things were great, personally things were turmoil.
I had started to make new friends and I finally had more time to visit my family, I even took a vacation with them for the first time in 4 years, but the one person I wanted to lay down next to every night was 1300 miles away.
Both of our lives were going very well, but our success was parallel. It was no longer on the same path.
Every time I felt happy it was followed by a sting of sadness reminding me that it was an experience we wouldn’t get to look back on with fondness together.
I visited Derricks family just as much as I visited my own and the empty seat next to me always reminded me that I had a decision to make, just as Derrick had.
I hadn’t realized it yet, but I was beginning the process of making one of the hardest decisions of my life.
There was a lot of crying during this period. Too many long conversations ending in tears and reminding each other why we were doing this. A lot of “there is nothing there for me, why would I go there?” from both of us.
There was truth in the statement, but in reality, being together was when we had everything we needed. Being together is what was going to make both of us the most successful versions of ourselves.
Although I hadn’t admitted it to myself yet, I can remember the exact moment that my heart made the decision to move.
Derrick had come home for a weekend visit and had gone to spend some time with a friend of his. I had spent quite some time talking to my mother on the phone about everything I was feeling. My heart had been in a never ending game of tug-of-war as I was trying to convince myself that it was either a good or bad idea to leave everything I had ever known.
My wonderful mother had been the best listening ear since the beginning. If there is one thing I have learned about my mother its that she knows exactly what to say at the moment I need to hear it most.
As I sat outside of this apartment complex waiting for Derrick to come to the car, I let it all out.
I vented about the good the bad and the ugly in the situation I was trying to sift through.
She just let me talk.
She let me work it out for myself.
She knew that no matter what she said at this point, my heart had been made up since the day Derrick and I met.
After I slowed my rant about all the reasons I shouldn’t go, my mother said something that resounded with me so deeply it will be echoed before every future decision I make.
As any mother would be obligated to say she started with,
“Of course I don’t want you to move away. I am selfish and I want you here where I can see you whenever I want.”
I could tell in her voice that she wanted me to stay for all the same reasons that I wanted to stay, yet she wanted me to go for all the same reasons I wanted to go. She then said,
“But if your reason for not doing this is because you are scared, I will tell you right now that that is the worst reason not to do something”
and with that I knew she wasn’t just giving motherly advice, she was speaking from experience.
She wanted me to learn from decisions she could have made but didn’t.
And I knew what I had to do.
I knew where I had to go.
I knew where I needed to be.
Deciding to move to North Dakota was a decision I made with Derrick, not for him.
It was a decision I made with him for us, for our success, for our future.
We both have big dreams.
We both have ambition.
We both want the absolute best for each other.
But most of all, we want to experience all of these things together.
For as good as it feels to do these things for ourselves, it is that much more meaningful to do it for the person whose life you want to make better for the rest of your own.
And that is why I chose to move to North Dakota.
It was, and is, an adventure I chose to go on with the one person that will always understand why I did it.
Why we did it.
I had the opportunity to go on a journey into the unknown with the only person in the world I would want to go with, and I took it.