Last May, when I knew Frit was about to get engaged, I started looking for a new place to live. Once she got married, she’d be moving to Iowa and I didn’t want to live in our house without her. There was also no way I’d be able to cover the mortgage on my own and I had zero desire, at 34, to start again with new roommates. Salt Lake City seemed like the logical place to look. It was closer to work. And it would provide a (sort of) “fresh start” in a (sort of) new city. I looked at dozens of apartments, but I couldn’t find anything that felt right.
Some might say that doesn’t matter–the “feeling right” bit. Just go where you want to go. Be where you want to be. Make a choice and God’ll use you wherever you land. But I firmly (stubbornly) hold to my expectation that Heavenly Father owes me at least that–a place where I can tangibly feel confident that it’s exactly the right place, at the right time, for me. If I’m to live this unexpected life on my own, then yes, He owes me at least that. (“And hardwood floors, a garden plot, and a walk-in closet, would be nice too,” I told Him one night, only half joking.)
But like I said, nothing felt right. Pretty soon Frit had the ring, and I felt the pressure. I began to feel very frustrated and very anxious. I kept searching, but to no avail other than stress. Plus, I was just … heartbroken. I would miss her so desperately. And I didn’t want to leave our house. Our happy, peaceful, welcoming, spirit-filled-garden-in-the-back-neighbors-we-adore house filled with seven years of memories. I just wanted everything to stay how it was.
Eventually, I asked my brother-in-law to give me a priesthood blessing for peace, direction, and clarity. Then I prayed my heart out in search of the answer. And the answer I received, quite clearly, was:
Krista, God is not frenzied. Calm down. I’ve got this. I’ve got you. And I’m taking care of it.
After that, I stopped. I stopped thinking about it. I stopped looking for somewhere to live. I figured that when “my place” opened up, wherever whenever, I would just somehow know. (As a sidenote, can we stop to pause on the awesomeness of that answer to my prayers? Seriously, it’s one of my favorite answers I’ve ever received and I’m so glad I have it written down. I love my Heavenly Father so much and I’m so grateful He talks to me and says it how I need to hear it.)
A few weeks later, my sister called. She didn’t know that Frit was engaged, nor did she know that I was looking for a new place to live. When she called, she was in Florida visiting our Grandmother, and the first thing she said, with incredulity, when I answered the phone was, “Are you moving to Florida!?” “What?” I said back. “No, I’m not moving to Florida. Why would I move to Florida?”
“Well, Erica and Dustin [the young couple who’d been living with and caring for Grandma since our Granddad passed away] just bought a house, so they’re moving out in September and Grandma told Erica that you’re coming to take care of her.”
“No. I’m not moving to Florida. I don’t know why she thinks that, but I can’t move to Florida. My whole life, my job, everything, is here.” And we hung up.
But the question lingered. “Are you moving to Florida?”
Looking back, I’m certain my heart knew it the moment she said it, that it was right. Yeah. I totally knew it. And the timing—uncanny. (In other words, providential.) But still, it seemed so absurd.
A few days passed and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I approached my boss “just to see” if it was even possible. Could I work remotely? Would they support such a move? My job was really the only concrete thing I could see standing in my way. I was already losing everything else–Frit, my home, my church family, my calling, my friends, my neighborhood, my book club, my quilting group, etc. And so I told God that if Florida was right, then He’d have to remove the work obstacle. If He did, I’d take that as a sign that I was supposed to go.
Well, it turned out, my company was (of course) super supportive. My boss and our CEO said they’d be willing to allow a flexible work arrangement if I decided to relocate. At that point, “sign” or no “sign,” I continued to sit on it.
Do I really want to go live with my Grandmother? In Florida? At 35? Single? I might as well get a damn cat too and call it a day. On the flip side Gram needs help. She can’t live alone. And I love her. This would really help her and it would help my family. I’m certainly in unique a position to go–no husband, no children, a flexible job. Is Florida really right?
All along, I knew Florida was the answer. But I wasn’t ready to admit it, so I didn’t. Eventually, the rightness of it bubbled to the surface anyway, as rightness is wont to do, and so I said it out-loud to someone other than Frit, just to try it on for size. Then I cried really hard (for thirty days in a row according to the tally marks I kept on a piece of paper beside my bed) and that was that. The plans were made. I was moving to Florida.
My last month in Utah was a whirlwind. I found myself living each day in a state of frantic nostalgia, racing to see everyone I wished I’d spent more time with when I’d had it and doing everything I’d meant to do over the last 16 years, trying to soak in every molecule of my last (last?) Utah summer. And of course, my last days with my best friend, the way it was–just the two of us.
But despite my best efforts to stretch the moments, I blinked and the summer was over, and there I was, sleeping on an air mattress in a very empty, very echo-ey house. She was married, moved out, and gone. One month later, it was my turn.
I packed my little silver car to its gills with the essentials–more books than clothes, my sewing machine, a box overflowing with watercolors and fabric, two computers, one oscillating fan, my cello, and a box of photos–and put the rest in storage. Dusk was falling with a misty rain as I pulled out of the driveway on that early October night and closed the garage door for the last time. I cried all the way out of Utah and well into Wyoming.
Now, here I am. I live in Florida on the banks of a river, and spend my days caring for my Grandmother and working from home, trying so hard to just be where God wants me to be.
And goodness, there is so much to write about these last eleven months (there’s always much to write, isn’t there?), but there’s the beginning at least.