Moving On and New Beginnings
Something about a big life change makes me crave more change.
Sam, my handsome husband graduated college in May and almost immediately found a job in his field. I won’t call us lucky at all. He worked hard for this, honed his skills and his connections, put together an amazing portfolio and has made himself a valuable video game programmer. This wasn’t luck, this was years of hard work and serious preparation on his part, and a lot of sacrifice for both of us.
Anyway, his job is in another city that’s really not that far from where we lived for three years while he went to school, but far enough that the commute was a serious pain in the patella for him. We felt our time in the city of Orem coming to an end, even started to feel as if we were being pushed out. The culture in Orem has never really suited us, even less so lately as we’ve grown and changed. I started to feel creatively stifled. Our apartment management felt neglectful at best and hostile at worst.
And I barely saw Sam because he was working and driving so much.
We knew we had to move.
We started looking around the city where he works and where we’d talked about living for years before and two weeks later, we moved into a beautiful townhouse only 15 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. That two weeks was a hurricane of packing, cleaning, unpacking, more cleaning, clearing out, filling in, and mixed emotions. There’s nothing like a quick move to show you how much stuff you have, and I probably have more stuff than most people with all my art and supplies.
And I was exhausted. Thank goodness for a perfectly-timed three day weekend to dedicate to recovery.
This was the hardest move we’ve ever had. Sure, we’re thrilled to be close to the city in an area that suits us better, near art galleries and cultural events and in a home that fits us, a place where we could get a dog (eee!) but we traded in a lot. We left behind some amazing friends and though it’s still not hard for us to visit them or for them to visit us, I’m no longer a three minute drive away from my best friend. I miss my little park down the street where I used to hula hoop. I miss all my puppy and kitty friends around the neighborhood, the ones I knew by name and who would always run out to greet me when I went for walks. I miss the Cinnabon down the street. Oh, sweet Cinnabon. How I miss you.
We moved in stages, hauling up a carload of stuff each time Sam drove up to work or each time I visited the new townhome to sign paperwork or when I started spending the night just because I could. Each time I went back to the Orem apartment, the feeling of loss hit me a little harder. The other day we met our friends at Ikea (one of our favorite dorky haunts) to buy throw pillows and it was so strange to head north instead of south after we left. When visiting my parents on Sunday, we drove down Parley’s Canyon instead of the Provo Canyon.
The most surreal moments.
But we have a new home now.
We grew so much in Orem, toughened and softened in so many different ways. I’m so different from the sick and exhausted person I was when we moved there three years ago. My creativity has blossomed, nourished by change and adventure and a beautiful studio space all to myself. I started selling art here, started my shop, I created and packed art here in Orem.
I have favorite places, restaurants, shops, and walking routes there. That little hole-in-the-wall El Salvadorian restaurant, our favorite sushi joints and yogurt bars, the health food store where I’d walk to get produce and olive oil soap when I didn’t have a car. I knew which grocery stores had the best prices and carried my favorite brands, where all the good parks and hiking trails were, and I knew the Orem library like my own studio.
We made so many memories with friends there, the best friendships I’ve ever had. We learned a lot there.
But we both knew it was time to move on. We knew we’d end up here eventually, in this new area in this new valley that fascinates me, but that I don’t know very well.
In a spacious townhome where we have the room for gatherings, for friends to stay with us or to even expand our family if the urge hits us while we’re here. I have a balcony to sip tea on, a patio for summer dinners, a fireplace for cuddling by with mugs of hot cocoa during Christmas time. For the first time in six years, I have a freaking DISHWASHER. There’s a hot tub here for cool fall nights. This is a very pet-friendly place where my kitty is welcome. In Orem, I had her as a comfort animal for medical reasons, which my landlord hated and I felt like a criminal. Now she can roll around on the balcony and sit in windows to her furry little heart’s content.
The culture is much better for us here. In Utah Valley, the dominant religion pervades absolutely everything, including the art scene. It seems that a lot of the people there look, talk, and act the same. I’ve never fit into this culture and trying to fit has brought me nothing but stress. I don’t wish to offend anyone who lives there because there are many exceptions and we can never fit people into neat little cookie-cutter shapes, but the outward appearance of this area perfectly fits the Utah Valley stereotype that vibe just doesn’t fit us. This is the main reason we felt it was time for us to go.
I’ve felt much more relaxed here in the Salt Lake Valley. It’s still Utah, but religion is not quite so dominant here and there seems to be a lot more variety in both the culture and the art scene. Salt Lake City is home to dozens of art galleries, each different from the other. The city is full of public art, murals on half the buildings downtown, symphonies, operas, festivals, and learning opportunities (like the trapeze class I want to take). This is the perfect place for us right now, and we’re realizing over the two weeks we’ve been here that the drive to Orem to see friends or for them to see us is not bad at all when you don’t have to fight rush hour traffic every day for work. And we have plenty of room for friends to crash here whenever they want.
But the best part of all is my new loft studio above the master bedroom. Sam knew when he saw the picture of this place online that this was a place for me. This studio is at the very top of the house and full of so much light. It’s slightly roomier than my old studio and since we have a lot more storage space in this new place, my studio is no longer the catch-all room. My studio and office space are now the same. Absolutely everything I need to create art and run my art business is there. This space is so nourishing and perfect for what I need now.
This is quickly becoming my favorite place in the whole world. It is also Studio Assistant’s favorite place, as she likes to lay near the edge of the loft and overlook her kingdom.
Princess Fluffy Butt on her throne:
The studio is in full swing. It’s already just a little messy, which pieces of projects stacked around, canvases laying out to dry, brushes out where I can see them. It feels most comfortable this way, welcoming yet slightly chaotic. This truly is a creative, magical space and I’m so excited to discover new things here, to watch my art and business grow and evolve.
Our lives are changing rapidly. This move was painful, but when I went back to check out of the old apartment with my landlord, I realize it didn’t feel like home anymore. It felt small, slightly stale, and just not right anymore, like a the army green jacket I loved years ago but just doesn’t suit me anymore.
We’ll mold our lives around this place. It’s already happening as we settle into new routines, find new favorite places. I walk to the historic farm around the corner to pet the lambs. I’m in love with the pizzeria up the street. We’ve both found our favorite places on the couch and Louka the Cat has found her favorite napping spots. I spent last Saturday at the farmer’s market and scoping out new parks for practicing new tricks with my hula hoop. There’s a graveyard up the street I really want to explore. No, I don’t find that weird. How else will I get gravestone rubbings for art backgrounds?
I made a new kitty friend here in the apartment complex and I know a couple of the dogs as well. I’m slowly finding new walking routes and I can get around town without my GPS app for the most part. We’re settling into this new life like a comfy couch, trying out new things, finding what works and what doesn’t. This space feels like mine, and this place is starting to feel like home, like we’re supposed to be here.
We’ll grow here. This is going to be good. This is a new adventure, and I’m ready.