Today is my 21st anniversary of moving to Seattle. I came here in late January of 1992. I was just out of graduate school, my job had been eliminated, and I had no romantic partner in my life. I’d visited the Northwest the previous October, staying with my aunt and uncle who’d recently moved here themselves. As I explored the area, I fell utterly in love with the giant trees, the beautiful lakes, and spectacular mountain countryside. When I mentioned to my aunt and uncle how great it would be to live here, they invited me to live with them. So I went back to Chicago, packed up my stuff, and bought a plane ticket to Seattle.
What I’ll Never Forget
I’ll never forget how, having run out of space in my suitcases, I stuffed a beloved antique lamp into my backpack. As I walked down the plane’s center aisle, I wept, having just said goodbye to my mother and brother. I struggled to walk, weighed down with a rolling suitcase, a carry on, and my backpack. My bag bumped someone in the head. I must have looked ludicrous. At about Row 14, a gentleman in a suit stood up and calmly said, “Here, let me help you with that,” and took my backpack. It was a sweet gesture I’ll never forget.
The other moment I’ll never forget was when I finally sat down in my seat. I was by the window, shoving my oversized bag with the lamp beneath the seat in front of me. After I buckled my seatbelt, I unzipped my backpack, and took out the latest issue of Harper’s that had come in the mail. On the cover, the bottom title said, “Why I Don’t Live Where I Used to Live” by Richard Ford. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe I was reading those words. And I couldn’t believe I was reading those words by one of my favorite writers. It was as if the universe was speaking to me.
The essay was a thoughtful piece on Ford’s penchant for living in different cities across America. It was the justification for my move to Seattle. Ford reassured me that the decision I’d just made could only make my life richer.
The Best Decision I Ever Made
Moving to Seattle was the best decision of my life. It was one of those decisions that leaves you feeling scared and grateful. I was scared because I was so close to almost missing out on all that I have now. Grateful that I didn’t. Months later, I’d get a job that launched a ten-year career in editing. Later on, I met my dear, beloved husband. I lived in more than one wonderful home, I found all of my pets, I made lifelong friends, and more.
When I run into someone who’s debating a large serious move that could affect them in an amazing or devastating way, I always encourage them to go for it. It’s because I did and it worked out like fireworks. I expect and hope the same for them. One simple move, and a cascade of events ensues. A move can take your life in an utterly fruitful direction. Or not. Every decision is a risk, I know, but especially when you’re young, the risk can be so worth it, you look back and wonder how you could not have done it.
Have you ever taken a major risk in your life and had it work out in an almost cosmically perfect way? Or taken a risk that exploded like a nuclear bomb? I’m curious to hear your story. Write me in the comments below.
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