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On Babies, Boyfriends, and Places to Live

Readers, in the wee hours of Monday morning, my dear dear friend GNA (who some of you may remember as the best frienditor a girl could ask for) gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I saw the first photos on Facebook and promptly started squeeing uncontrollably, which worried my poor puppy. There was much in the way of stupid grinning and putting my hand on my heart and then over my mouth and then back to my heart, all while my roommate grinned knowingly at me and shook her head. Then I made the glorious mistake of zooming in on the photo of the baby, whose name is Elizabeth, at which point I immediately burst into tears. I was so overwhelmed by this beautiful, tiny creature and how wonderful it is that she exists that I started crying–and that was all just from a photo on Facebook. And despite that reaction, I can’t even begin to comprehend how GNA and her husband are feeling. If I tried, I would explode rainbows, panic attacks, and biological clocks.

GNA and her husband are the first of our longtime group of friends to procreate, and I can’t think of two people better for creating and raising tiny humans. They will be wonderful, wonderful parents and I know that house will just be filled with a delightfully suffocating miasma of love. And I can’t wait to be part of it. I am fully prepared to be at GNA’s beck and call for any and everything, ready to come down at no notice so she can sleep or take a bath or anything, at all. I want to buy them tons of baby things and give them huge chunks of my salary because I know babies are expensive. I want to cook them lasagnas and stews and bring them leftovers because the energy to cook can go out the window. I joked with GNA about becoming their live-in nanny but the funny part is I totally would. I love GNA and I love babies and I love helping out.

All of this is very exciting, but it’s certainly not the only majorly shifting thing in my life. My boyfriend Matt and I have only officially been together a little over six months, though our romance began more than two years ago. Our relationship has always been one that escalated rapidly; in fact, that was the reason for the two false starts we had. Things got serious seriously fast, and both times it was too much too soon, though for different reasons.

But then we came to the realization that it was all exactly what we wanted exactly when we wanted it, and we’ve been blissfully committed to each other since then. Considering the fact that we once went to a hardware store and picked out all our future appliances for fun, it’s somewhat needless to say that we have every expectation of spending the rest of our lives together–and it’s not forced, it’s not awkward, and it’s not hinged on getting married per se. The only “goal” is just to be with each other. We talk about our long life together like it’s fact, because that’s how we both see it. It’s kind of how we’ve both always seen it, even way back when we spent our first night together talking about our favorite avant garde watch designs instead of going home and sleeping.

So it’s already decided that when my lease ends, I’m moving in with him, and when his lease ends, we’re moving somewhere together–and that’s the next big question. See, I’ve lived in basically the same fifty mile radius my entire life, despite moving at least twelve times. I don’t exactly love my hometown region, but it does have some really great places and really great people and I’m not unhappy to be living here. Matt has lived in several wildly different cities and struggles a little bit with the kind of place our current location is. It’s rural, heavily conservative, and generally complacent about the state of things. Matt and I are not exactly urbanites (NYC would be a little too much for me, for example) but we’re not really at a “retire to the country” point in our lives either.

Our move will be guided by a desire to find a place where the average lifestyle resonates with us, a place where we can feel comfortable living regardless of what kind of jobs we work. Jobs can change a lot easier than where you live, after all, and there’s anecdotal evidence from Matt’s dad (who is very similar to Matt) that place first, job second has been much more satisfying than job first, place second.

The Powell’s floorplan. All those rooms. Filled with books.

This idea was planted deeply when we visited his parents in Portland, OR, and completely fell in love with the city. I was, for one, overwhelmed by the ubiquity of gluten-free options at restaurants, but we were also won over by the transit system, and how walkable the city is, how great the people are, and how many things there are that we’re interested in (like Powell’s City of Books. Seriously. A bookstore that covers a city block). We even went to the Portland State University campus to check it out, since both of us want to go to grad school. They have an MA/MS in writing and book publishing. Can you say perfect? It was a glimpse at the kind of life we want to have, in a place we love, and the fact that his parents live there makes it really nice. Not only will we have that line of support during our move, but it’s been years since Matt lived near his family, so I know we all look forward to spending more time together.

Really, I have no doubt in my mind that Matt and I will move to Portland. Then, it becomes a question of when. He and I have been discussing this, obviously, and I know he’s ready to go as soon as his lease is up. I could be too, but like I’ve told him, it feels like a much bigger decision for me. Most of my family’s here. My friends are here, and one of them just had her first baby. I have connections to establishments here, like the community theater. And I’m prepared to move on eventually with the knowledge that I’m not really leaving any of the people I love behind, especially with the aid of technology. But it seems like there’s a difference between preparing for that day and knowing when it’s arrived.

I don’t really have an answer to the question of when. My contemplations are logistical, financial, emotional, all across the board. But change is certainly a-comin’. What about you, readers? How many cross-country moves have you made, and for what reasons? How many of you had, without quite realizing it, a moment where suddenly you knew you’d found the person you were going to be with forever? How many of you burst into tears when one of your best friends had a baby?