Pour yourself a beverage and stay awhile as I regale you with the not-so-tall-tale of Why I Moved South!
I lived in Savannah, GA for graduate school, and frankly, didn't want to leave. But even IF I could find a decent job, it would pay me about half of what I could make in a larger city, and I now had graduate school loans on top of undergrad school loans to pay. I was hell-bent on moving to Washington DC, a mecca for nonprofit careers. Alas, I tried and tried to secure a position there before my lease in Savannah ended, to no avail. Rent in that city is atrocious, and without the promise of an income, my poor graduate school'd self couldn't swing it.
I found myself packing up my possessions to move back to Minnesota, where despite the terrible recession of 2009 I found a great position with even better pay in under three shorts months. I was thrilled about the job, but so incredibly bummed to be back in Minneapolis. I cried nearly the whole 26 hour drive back.
Two years later, that great job laid me off. It wasn't all bad; I took a temp role in finance where I re-met my now husband (hmmm... Future post idea!) and eventually got another job as a grant manager for a great medical research foundation.
Now, Minneapolis is fun. There's a ton of cultural events, some of the best restaurants in the US (surprising, no?!) and the summers are UNBEATABLE! You spend the whole three months outside, partying on boats on Lake Minnetonka, running around the chain of lakes in the city, having Sunday Funday on patios.
That is... IF you already have a group of friends. If you're a transplant, good luck. The social climate is as icy as it's physical climate, and even Minnesotans admit this. I wasn't a transplant per se, but I had spent a good amount of time away. I wasn't connected to many of my friends in high school anymore, because hey - life happens and we move on. I wasn't connected to any of my sorority sisters still living in town because I stupidly invested all my time in my college boyfriend, who was a TA at the university we went to, and refused to hang out with any of my friends "in case they became his future students." Or, because he was a self-adsorbed a-hole, it's hard to say.
Regardless, I found myself in my mid-late 20's and constantly lonely there. I made a few friends at work and a few friends at my gym and occasionally saw my two friends from high school I still talked to. But truthfully, that was it. I dated extensively so I wouldn't spend my weekends alone.
Fast forward to me being 28, and hubs and I were happily dating. He traveled extensively for work (I'm talking he was gone M-F four weeks a month) but we'd spend our weekends together. I'd do my own thing during the week, either hitting up a happy hour with one of all six or so friends I had or hit up classes at my gym. I was content! I had a cute little apartment in the trendiest part of town and a cute little dog and a good job and just enough social interaction to keep me happy.
Then winter of '12 hit. I would wake up at 4am to dig my car out of three feet of snow (work is never cancelled and you're expected to be on time regardless of what Mother Nature throws at you there). My dog would walk halfway down the block and shrivel into a little ball, he was so cold for those -24 degree morning walks. I'd carry him home, wrapping him in my coat as best I could. It was so, so cold, and so, so dark. One day at work, I got a text from then-boyfriend hubs: "My job just got eliminated."
The news wasn't all bad! They were offering him a choice: Transfer to Texas or take a decent severance package. Then-boyfriend hubs was leaning toward the severance package. "Are you crazy?! It's nearly impossible to find positions in your line of work these days. Take the job in Texas!" I said. So he did.
My plan was to stay in Minneapolis through the end of my lease on my cute little apartment. I'd job hunt from up there and join him in the summer of '13. Valentine's Day came, two weeks before he moved permanently to Texas, and he proposed! Then the real craziness set in.
One Sunday it was 36 degrees, practically summer for February in Minneapolis. I got an extra long walk in with my dog and wasn't miserable running weekend errands. It was a miracle! Overnight, it dropped to -40. Do you know what -40 feels like? You don't want to, trust me. That dramatic drop happened so fast, all the air depressurized from two of my tires. Did I notice before I took off for work? Hell no, I was too focused on getting out of the wind!
I drove to work (a whole mile and a half away) on two flat tires, which ruined them. Weird lights were flashing on the computer screen in my dashboard. I put air in my tires and made an appointment at my dealership. "Um yeah, you need all new tires since you have all wheel drive and crushed the side walls driving on flats, and you also need a new oil line since there's water in yours that froze and nearly blocked oil getting to your engine. The good news is that your engine isn't destroyed, and we've had about 10 people come in with destroyed engines today! The bad news is that it's about $2500."
I called then-fiance hubs crying. I worked at a nonprofit, lived on my own and was repaying my school debt. I didn't have a spare $2500. I was so sick of the bullshit dark, dark winter. I was so sick of the bullshit social climate in Minneapolis. I was getting so sick of the culture of my job (everyone was "so busy!" all the time. NO. Just no. You make yourself busy by complaining about your work for half the day... If you'd knock that off, you'd have time to actually do your job!) and basically, I was just over everything, especially living in a city where the climate alone was responsible for $2500 of damage to my car! *sob, sniff, sob sob*
Then-fiance hubs not only gave me $2500 to fix my car, he told me to quit my job and sublet my place and join him in Dallas, ASAP. He didn't need to tell me twice. I put in my two weeks the next day at work and got permission from my landlord to sublet my place. I called my folks, begging them to help me move across the country one. more. time. "Only if you promise to never move back there again!" my mom joked.
We packed up the trailer and two cars. What wouldn't fit (which was most stuff) got donated. I gleefully threw out all my SmartWool socks, and tossed my dog's winter booties. We got done loading everything up around noon the day I needed to be out of my apartment. I threw my dog and then-fiance's do in the back seat of my little Audi (poor guys had to sit on boxes and bags of crap), threw it in drive, turned it south and pushed on the gas as hard as I could (you know, given the ice on the road).
It's an 18 hour drive south on I-35 from Minneapolis to Dallas. We started February 26, spent the night in southern Iowa, and got into Dallas during the evening rush hour on the 27th. Parts of the drive were icy and windy and scary. But I distinctly remember crossing the state line into Oklahoma and magically (seriously, oddly so!) it got 10 degrees warmer and there was green grass. GREEN grass! In February! I hadn't seen anything besides white and grey for months.
I breathed a deep sigh of relief. "Thank God I'm finally out of that frozen hellhole!" I rolled down the windows a little bit for the dogs, cranked up the tunes, and increased my speed. I was home again.
If you're still reading, congrats! Excellent attention span... Or my writing really grabbed you. I'mma go with the latter over the former, just to stroke my ego, mmmmmk?