Hello, Goodbye, Hello. We’re Moving…Again!

I woke before the sun rose to prepare for the drive from Charleston back to St. Louis two weeks ago. The moon was full and framed in the window of what will soon become the den. For now it was an empty room where the echo created by an unexpected sneeze was alarming. It felt like such a long way from making that empty room a cozy spot to watch a TV show or read a book before bed. I gathered my things, packed the car, locked the house, and headed back to St. Louis.

Someone mentioned to me the other day one of the truisms heard time and again when the opportunity to share seems appropriate. I am moving again or, more accurately Lynda and I are moving again. The truism invoked? Moving is right up there in life’s top five most stressful events. I have never thought to rank my life’s most stressful events, but I can attest to the stress involved in moving.

I have lived all over the place and so, have moved many, many times. Mostly moves have been career-related- My Dad’s career moved us from Evanston, Illinois  to Port Chester, New York then to Rye, New York. I moved to New Jersey then back to Purchase, New York for college, then to Connecticut for graduate school. Then it was off to Orange County, CA for job one, San Diego for job two, Washington State for job three, and back to San Diego for job four.

Life crises precipitated a flurry of moves and gave me a profound understanding of downward mobility. But just as life has its downs, a new career offered opportunity for upward mobility as well. Lynda and I moved a number of times in California as our careers opened new options to us. For me this also included long overseas stays in London and Tel Aviv flats with monthly visits home. More recently, with my scaling back and Lynda being recruited, we left California and moved to Durham, NC where she worked at Duke, and some three and a half years ago to St. Louis where she was recruited to serve as an executive with Washington University Medical School. Just a week or two ago, she informed her boss she intended to retire. Retirement is a big deal but is a subject I’ll write about a little later. You can generally continue to do work-related consulting in our respective fields after you have retired if you want. I have. It has kept me engaged and busy while Lynda ascended in her field. But formal career ascents and descents are concluding because we have decided to retire.

I admire people who know just what their retirement will look like. Live close to the kids and grandchildren. Buy a place on the lake, the golf course, join the club, go to Florida, and live in a planned community with a community center and a range of clubs for varied interests.

For some time, we pondered where we wanted to move after retirement. We considered the Northwest (wet, gray, and cold); California (high taxes, expensive real estate), Florida, (Can’t shake the vision of becoming Jerry Seinfeld’s parents in Del Boca Vista). We have settled on Charleston, SC. The Low Country surrounded by all that water and the threat of hurricanes and floods. (It’s always something- earthquakes, tornadoes, gun violence. We opted for floods and hurricanes). So, we will leave St. Louis soon.

I have flown to the Charleston and Beaufort areas several times trying to imagine us living there. Both are beautiful but we selected an area just inside the City of Charleston’s boundaries on the Wando River. I have driven from St. Louis to our new home several times as well- 900 miles. I used to love driving really long distances and enjoy meeting new people, exploring the very different worlds that exist within the borders of our nation. I have camped from one end of the US to the other-North to South, East to West. But because a move is so unsettling, especially as one gets older, I am single minded about simply re-establishing the stability of day to day living above everything else. Part of what makes moves more stressful as you age is having to go through the ritual of sorting through what to keep and what not to keep- the Father’s Day cards I have kept in a desk drawer, stuff my own father left behind after he died. For example, I have his old Nikon SLR camera with an assortment of lenses. I’ve been told by experts it’s worth nothing. I refuse to believe them and so will move it again because my father always told me what a great camera it was. I’ll move it but use my iPhone for photos. When I die, I’ll give it to my kids.

My appreciation for a sense of place cannot be nearly as strong as others who have rarely if ever moved. I enjoyed a Grouper sandwich at the Grill across the Wando River from our new house a few weeks back. A middle-aged couple struck up a conversation with me as we ate at the bar. They had a farm not far from the Grill. She bred and trained Retrievers and he worked at the Federal Prison teaching agricultural skills at a medium security facility. They had never left the State of South Carolina for the most part. They loved where they were and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for us to move. As a Pastor, I served in multiple parishes that had large military installations nearby. Of course, many of my parishioners were military- officers and enlisted. Typically, these families are rotated every 3-4 years. What I noted was how quickly military families planted themselves in various circles. They engaged with parish life quickly, friendships came easily, involvement with their kid’s schools was intense, and suddenly it felt as if they had been a part of the community for decades. But always…and always too soon it was time to move on. More senior military became skilled “relocators” and their families learned to be stoic about their departures. Even so, I don’t recall their appearing to be guarded about building ties to others even when they knew they were temporary.

Our move to Charleston entails no separation from professional colleagues for me, but it will for Lynda. She tells me she is uncertain how it will feel leaving St. Louis as well as her career. We both have had the good fortune to mentor others and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing them succeed, to work with good institutions and participate in their growth.  I won’t speak for her (although we are a lot alike) but finding even one close friend among my colleagues I always considered a blessing. I have been inconsistent about the ongoing nurture such friendships require after I have moved on, but the place they occupy in the person I have become remains rock solid.

The places we go, the homes we create, the things we accumulate, the people we come to know, and the communities to which we attach ourselves all figure into the mix of what it takes to define us a person. We are always becoming and therefore defy a static definition.  I am unsure what this next phase will entail and I’m reluctant to over-manage it with big plans of kayaking, volunteering, taking courses at the college, or hosting a string of visitors. We will have to put our nest in order first. Where are we going to put my dad’s crap, all the drawings, photographs, and books that we will not look at for months, maybe years, but just can’t let go of the comfort of knowing they are close by. Where will we place the artwork collected over decades that has always provided so much contentment, and how will I configure my kitchen to suit my love of cooking and how it soothes my desire to create something beautiful that evokes an, “Oh wow!”

For now, I will try to keep my focus on the space we will create to support the long list of tasks, stresses, and strains of the moving experience. In between the good-byes and hellos, our aim will be to create a place that offers comfort, peace, rest, beauty, good conversation, and the opportunity to become whatever we will be.

The Wando River at Sunset

7 thoughts on “Hello, Goodbye, Hello. We’re Moving…Again!

  1. Beautifully written, Dave. Moving is a bittersweet experience yet it always holds the promise of hope. You are moving to a lovely area and I know you will find all you need.


  2. Jacquelyn Hubbard May 16, 2023 — 10:01 pm

    I am always in awe of your beautiful way of expressing yourself, and I am so happy for your new life in Charleston. There is a “but”! I was hoping you would settle in So Cal, selfishly. I spent a week in Asheville last month and love that part of the country. Enjoy❤️


    1. Thank you, Jackie. I forgot to mention in that piece that we also considered Asheville which I too love. Wanted to be close to the ocean again.


  3. Best of luck there Dave.


    1. Thanks John. Remember: “ come to the church in the wild wood…”


  4. Best wishes for another new beginning. I have travelled through your new area several times in the past. You have chosen a beautiful place. My family and I can still keep in touch. Still hanging in there with my wonderful stray cat who adopted me and a few blocks away from my Son Erik and his family. My oldest Granddaughter is graduating next month from the University of Toronto. My youngest is completing her first year at American University. My Son is getting close to retirement. Time speeds up. Hope to be able to see you again.
    Ken Branson


    1. You must be proud of the girls and it’s amazing that Erik is getting ready to retire. I think, Ken, we may be getting old!
      I’m glad you’re well and wishing you well!


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