Moving to a new city is not for the faint of heart. It involves not only having to pack your life belongings and trust strangers with taking them to your new home; you then have to develop new habits, learn new streets and maybe face the demands of a new job. All of these stresses can be aggravated by having no one to meet up with to unwind or see a movie, as oftentimes those moving to a new city find themselves distanced from their entire support group and feeling alone.
In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), members talk about going for a geographical fix. What is a geographical fix, you ask? It's the idea that if you're miserable in NYC, you can fix your life by moving to San Francisco or some other place. Or if you're unhappy in your relationship with John or Johanna, you need only dump them and go for Bob or Roberta and you'll be happy. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't look at your surroundings or consider your choice of partner, but experience shows that you will bring yourself to that new city or relationship.
Finding a church can be a time-consuming and stressful experience. It takes a great amount of patience. On average, you can only visit one, or maybe two churches a week, so the search to find a church can drag out over the course of weeks or several months. Longer, even. Years. So, how do you deal as a couple?
A couple of weeks ago, my fiancé and I moved back to California after living in New York City a mere six months. Long story short, our lifestyle preferences clashed too much with the Big Apple (read: shoebox living and heavy pollution vs. spacious homes and abundant nature) for us to justify staying and growing roots, leaving our west-coast roots behind.
Every Sunday morning I let my dog Scout, take me for a walk. I figure for everyday of the week this dog minds his manners, he can have a sniffing adventure one day of the week. And that is exactly what he does: He sniffs his way all around our neighborhood. I drink my coffee at his long sniffs and enjoy his tail wagging happiness. A few months ago I put Scout’s needs on the back burner and I learned a few life lessons from this sweet canine.
We took the Gatwick train out of London and made our way southwest 25 miles. The day before we were ducking out of all-you-can-eat buffets in Chinatown, still waiting to see if the position, any position, would come through. We had met in Prague: him, the Australian backpacker, and me, the American English teacher. Now in the UK, he was employable and I not. Then the word came: Positions available, couples preferred. Bar and server experience a must. All pay under the table, room and board inclusive. Start tomorrow. Watching from the window, my eyes followed the changing panorama: industrial cityscape; baguette stalls lining the commuter stops; row houses, all identical except for the garbage littered gardens, but even then, that too, took on a cloak of uniformity. We passed bleak urban villages now indistinguishable amongst the city’s sprawling grasp, yet still managing distinction if but in name only: Chiddingfold, Effingham, Limpsfield, Titsey, Leatherhead…
Even when it feels right, moving for love is a total leap of faith and it certainly was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. But there are a few questions you can ask yourself to help decide if following love to another city is a good move for you.
Three years ago, off the back of a bad relationship, I needed out of Southern California and decided to move to London for six months. I was looking forward to being single for the first time in five years and was relishing the chance to dance, date and drink in a massive, heaving city. I would kick up my heels in swanky clubs, live in a Tudor cottage and date a man who wore a bowler hat and carried an umbrella. Three weeks later, I opened the front door to find my roommate's brother, Mark, standing there with a bag in one hand, a bicycle in the other. He had just left his wife and three children and needed a place to stay.
Recently I’ve been getting the itch to move somewhere again, and it hit me: I can’t just pick up and go any time I want to. I’m engaged. I have another person’s feelings and future to consider. That kind of sucks. I told Fred how I felt a few weeks ago–that if we end up staying in Atlanta for the rest of our lives because we want to, then that would be great. But if we decide now that there’s never even the option of moving, then I will begin to feel trapped– and caged animals are not the nicest creatures.
We made it. It is done. We are moved (note that moved and unpacked are not synonymous), the cats are settled in, life is slowly returning to normal. Between the work gala I had on Tuesday and the move, I’m pretty sure that was the busiest week of my life, and boy am I glad it’s over. Frank and I even borrowed a car and went to Ikea on Saturday to procure the furniture items we required to inhabit our new apartment. So it’s pretty much cake from here on out. There are some small glitches—no cable or internet yet—but generally it’s all coming together. Which makes it even weirder that Frank and I have been bickering constantly the last couple of days. You’d think that once the hard part was over, we’d both relax and be nice people to be around, but you would be wrong. We didn’t fight really at all during the weeks between finding out we had to move and the truck pulling up on our doorstep, but the moment things were kind of in the clear, we were at each others’ throats.
So: packing. That is where we are this week. And not just packing, but the point in packing where it all seems completely hopeless and impossible. Every move has this moment, I’m certain of it. Moving sucks. The agreement on this point is universal.
As anyone in a cross-cultural relationship can attest; falling for each other is easy. But dating is much harder. Complications of different cultural approaches to love and marriage; conflicting ways of communicating; and language challenges are enough to give even the most ardent romantic a headache.