“Every new season of life is an invitation to leave behind the things of the season before, to trappings and traps that have long expired, right for then, no longer right for now.”
— Shauna Niequist
We placed our bets on the safety net of guest beds and living rooms.
For more than a month, it worked. My wife and I were untethered, hanging in the liminal space we had both chosen of our own agency and been mysteriously drawn toward. We shuffled between suburban residences of family and old friends, apartments of former college roommates and hometown connections, and previous housemates’ homes around Minneapolis.
The generosity of friends, the kindness of family, and even the encouragement of people we left in South Carolina—those can’t be taken for granted, and they have sustained us through the ambiguous middle territory between two seasons of life.
But then when something came up, my wife and I had to make a hard decision.
With our things in storage in Minnesota, where the bitter -15 wind chill taunted our sense of comfort, we packed a few things in the car and drove west.
For 42 days, I continued the job search, freelance writing, and reconnected with friends in one of our favorite cities in the world: Portland, Oregon. Again, hospitable friends softened our landing with the most grace and wholehearted welcome. We slept in a guest room in a 100-year-old farmhouse near the city, warmed up by the fireplace, and watched the most TV we’ve watched in a long time (thanks, Olympics). We shared laughs and hikes and meals with our hosts, friends who know the power of creating space for others to belong.
Then the decision manifested: if I received an offer somewhere else, would I start soon and leave Kati in Portland to finish her work contract?
“It is your highest birthright to experiment and dare and pioneer as if the sole boundary holding you is the love you are guided by.”
— Erika Morrison
As much as we love Portland, and as much as we could have built our new rhythm there, something didn’t quite feel right.
You know the feeling, don’t you? On paper, the choice is sound, appealing, and there’s no reason you can pinpoint to argue against it. Yet that deep intuition, some strange stirring in your spirit won’t let you rest with that choice.
Around the time we were getting the hang of things in Portland, when that one last snowstorm passed through and spring peeked around the clouds, I got a call.
We were moving to Minneapolis.
Well, while she finished her contract for another six weeks in Portland, I was moving to Minneapolis.
Another decision that didn’t quite line up with conventional expectations or stable life transitions. It garnered a few looks of surprise—“Oh really?”—when people heard our plan.
Admittedly, we would not recommend it for everyone, or perhaps anyone. It would be the longest time apart since we’d been married years ago. But there it was again, the deep intuition that just because it wasn’t conventional or easy didn’t mean we couldn’t do it or it wasn’t our path.
Follow the Longing
“Deep is your longing for the land of your memories and the dwelling place of your greater desires; and our love would not bind you nor our needs hold you.”
— Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
I began new work in Minneapolis, again welcomed by family who welcomed me in their home. Two weeks later, I moved into an apartment a few blocks from the Mississippi River, with downtown skyscrapers peeking through the upper corner of the apartment window. This was no Southern suburbia mansion of a house like we had before—but that was the point, a change of lifestyle and living situation, to find a more sustainable, less wasteful, more engaged way to live.
I slept on an air mattress for the first bit, but I didn’t mind.
After evacuating our South Carolina home three and a half months prior and putting our belongings in storage, it was satisfying to be where we wanted to be. Kati would visit for a few days and we unloaded a moving truck—with less things than when we left the South—into our new place.
There are still boxes lining the wall, patiently sitting until I unpack more. Kati’s not here yet, but her arrival date is within sight.
This remains a transition, not quite resolved and settled. But I laugh to myself when I walk into my apartment building, when I jump off the bus and onto the lightrail in downtown Minneapolis, when I discover life without a car isn’t that difficult. I marvel at the stories of old friends I’ve reconnected with, how they are on such interesting and important journeys that I wouldn’t have appreciated when I knew them years prior.
My book officially released just over a year ago. I’m still living the questions and relearning the lessons of adaptability, holding expectations loosely, because there’s humble power in accepting my place in the here and now—for what it is, not how I think it should’ve been.
“No single city will be my home forever, because so many different places have changed me in the ways I needed.”
— The Variable Life, Chapter 49: The End of the Road
I’m grateful that toward the end of this transition—when we still have a new rhythm to establish, new friends to make, and new things to learn about this place we’ve chosen—through all the uncertainties and ambiguity of our last few months and years of liminal space, I can be certain of one thing:
This city is home.
Up next: A few sustaining insights about living in liminal space without giving up