Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Did the foreclosure crisis turn us into nomads?

Pablo Neruda packed into the car for our move from L.A. to Chicago in 2009
As a teenager, when I imagined the map of my life, there were push pins all over the world. I visualized myself as a traveler. At one point I even wanted to be a foreign corespondent. I wanted drama, excitement, new adventures. Settling down in one place was the equivalent of death in my teenage mind.

Now it seems all my late-thirties mind wants to do is settle down. And it doesn't mean death. It means connection.

What makes it so hard to leave Chicago this time around is not Chicago (though we do love Chicago)... it's our community. The same thing that had us torn up about leaving L.A. Community is what we crave. It's what I crave. And what makes our life so full and wonderful.

But all this moving around has me wonder... 

Are we nomads?


They all have one thing in common: no permanent abode. No fixed address. They move from place to place.

Traditional nomadic hunter-gatherers moved from place to place in search of food. Sustenance. I suppose that is similar to what we're doing here with this move.

It's true that in losing our house our anchor to Los Angeles lifted, thus setting us adrift. Though we made sure we had purpose in our drifting. It would appear that each move we've made since that time was nomadic in character. At least in some regards.

The move to the Chicago immediately following the loss of our house was for shelter.
The move to the island was for shelter.
The move to Chicago was for Bob's job (sustenance) and sweetened by the presence of community. This move back to L.A. is also for a job opportunity (sustenance.)

A quick Google search of "modern nomads" brought me to a blog belonging to a caretaking couple - Modern Day Nomads. They call themselves nomads because they move place to place in search of caretaking opportunities. They are currently property caretakers of a 150+ acre farm in Maine. Before that they were property caretakers of a ranch in Texas. He's an artist and she's a freelance writer and editor making it easy for them to move from caretaking gig to caretaking gig.

They are living a life Bob and I thought we might end up living for longer than we did. As caretakers. But... the point is that they do seem to fit the definition of modern nomads.

Where does that leave us?

Though four major moves in three years is a lot of moving, I'm still not sure that makes us nomads.

Perhaps it's a phase.

Like a pixie haircut.

It takes guts to do it. You've got a really good reason. And you look back on it years later trying to imagine what on earth you were thinking.

I only hope that years from now we look back on this glad that we had the cojones to jump at this opportunity. As crazy as it seems at times. As cozy as our life here is.

You know, it seems to me that traditional nomads wouldn't have done what we're doing. They wouldn't move on until their food source was used up. Right? Ours isn't. And that's what is so hard about this. We're not moving because there is nothing for us here in Chicago. Or because we hate our life here. No. Complete opposite. We love our life here. And we're moving.

Doesn't make sense. Right? I'm having a hard time encapsulating what that feels like. Choosing to move from one wonderful life to another hopefully even greater opportunity.  So if there is anyone out there who has done this kind of a move before, please share your insight in the comments section. I would so appreciate it.

Moving to L.A. this time around is bringing back memories from our first move to L.A. when we were engaged and moving for me to go to grad school at USC. I keep referencing my mindset then. Looking back at how different we were. And how different this is.

One thing I know for sure.

Nomads or not.

This time around, we're out to make Los Angeles our bitch.

There. I said it.

We've got a kid now.

This is all about him.

His future.

Making hard choices in service of the extraordinary.

And as cozy as our life is, reaching for the extraordinary can be pretty damn uncomfortable. So I guess the way I feel is about right.


Did the foreclosure crisis turn us into nomads?

Well... maybe a little. But it didn't turn us into something we weren't already. When I was only two we moved to London for my dad's job. I'm certainly not new to big moves like these.

Maybe instead of turning me into a nomad, foreclosure freed the nomad within. 

For now, at least, I'm okay with being a little bit nomad-ish.

What about you? Did foreclosure turn you into a nomad? Or nomad-ish? Please add to the conversation by sharing in the comments below. I love your input!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Full Circle

Have you gotten tired of our big announcements?

We've made so many over the last three years...

We avoided foreclosure!

We're leaving L.A. and moving to Chicago!

We're moving to an island!

We're having a baby!

We're leaving the island and moving back to Chicago!

Well, it's time for another one.


We're leaving Chicago and moving back to L.A.!

I know.

We must sound totally certifiable.

For the fourth time in less than three years.
For the second time in Malcolm's 21 month life span.

Almost three years after losing our house and leaving L.A., we are moving back again.

I know!

Yes. We really are moving back to Los Angeles.

And yes, perhaps we are mad.


But I promise there is a method to our madness.

We wouldn't leave my family if there weren't a really



really good reason.

Dropped right into Bob's lap, completely out of the blue, is the opportunity for him to do the same work he's been doing for double the income working for 20th Century Fox.

When does that ever happen?

When does that happen in this kind of economy?

It doesn't. Well, not often. Not every day, that's for sure.

Way to go, Bob! Way to continually create opportunities for our family for being so awesome at what you do. 

Here's how it went down.

On the day we were flying to L.A. to visit friends and family and see one of my plays in The Car Plays: San Diego, Bob got a call from a headhunter. This headhunter is someone he hasn't spoken to in ten years. TEN. YEARS. And she just happened to call him on the day we were going to L.A. about a job in L.A.

We said no.

No way.

We are not moving.

We're not leaving Chicago. Not leaving my family. Not putting everyone through that.

We're happy here.

We hate moving.

We're not doing it.

But then...

A few days later...

Bob thought about it.

He ran the numbers. Then came to me and said, "I can't believe I would just turn down this much money without even giving it some thought."

So we gave it some thought. We saw that we could be out of debt in a year and a half with this kind of salary bump. We saw the opportunity to actually start saving for Malcolm's future. We saw the future we've been trying to create...

A future free from debt.

And it just fell in our lap.

Yes, it would have been better if this opportunity had been in Chicago.

It would have been a total no-brainer.

But the universe doesn't work like that.

I mean, we did move all the way to an island that was pretty much in Canada without ever having seen it just for the opportunity to live rent-free. And let's be honest, for the adventure. We are not shy of adventure.

But we've gotten cozy here. We love Chicago. We love our life. We love, as I like to say, our little corner of the universe. And though we've begun to make a habit of it, we really do hate moving.

Yet, we're still living pay check to pay check. We're still carrying our IRS debt, our student loans and our debt to the Franchise Tax Board in California. We're still a very long way off from zero debt. From ever even thinking about owning a house again.

Stay and be happy as we are? Life is good here. Yes, we go pay check to pay check. But, let's be honest, we have a fabulous life.


Embrace the opportunity and possibilities and return to L.A. Complete the circle.

We talked about quality of life. We wanted to make sure we were not just following the money and ignoring quality of life. Is it better to go pay check to pay check slowly chipping away at our debt for years and years on end as long as we get to see my family on a weekly basis? Or is it better to eradicate our debt quickly but see my family only on a monthly or bi-monthly basis?

Moving back to L.A. doesn't mean Malcolm won't be around family. Bob's dad is there. So, he'll have the opportunity to get to know his Grandpa Jim.

My brother is in San Diego... only a 2 hour drive away. So Malcolm will have the chance to get to see more of Reverend Godfather Tommy Dubs.

Bob has two sisters in California. One lives up the coast in San Luis Obispo and the other is in Sacramento. So Malcolm will have more time with his Auntie Chelsey and Auntie Shana.

We're trying to rent a 3-bedroom or at least a large enough 2-bedroom to allow for guests to be comfy. We want guests.

To everyone in Chicago- friends and family alike-- I say this: PLEASE VISIT US.


We are budgeting for travel to and from Chi-town.

If we could, we'd be bi-"coastal." Yes, Lake Michigan is considered a coast. At least in this scenario.

After considering everything it really came down to an offer that we couldn't refuse.

When we were offered the incredible opportunity to housesit on San Juan Island, we obviously didn't have Malcolm to consider. But... if we hadn't gone, who knows how long we would have delayed before having Malcolm.

We had to consider many of the same concerns. And different ones too. One thing I wrote at that time resonates today.

In my blog post announcing our big decision to move to the island and be caretakers for two years, I wrote: I WILL NOT ALLOW MY FEAR TO PAINT THIS WINDOW SHUT.

My fears range from concern that I won't be as happy there to just being afraid to reinvent my life again. To uproot again.

But here's the thing. It doesn't have to be forever.


We can always come back.

(seems to be our mantra)

We know how fortunate we are to have this opportunity. And we know that some people will disagree with our choice to relocate. It has not been easy. We have so many mixed emotions. There have been tears.

We'll miss so much.

We always do. Every time we move we miss what we've left behind. We've missed our life in L.A., we've longed for aspects of our life on the island. And now in going back to L.A. we'll miss our fabulous Chicago life. The list of what we'll miss is too long. So we're trying not to focus on that and instead just stay in action. Moving forward. Focus on the positive aspects of our move. How we're having yet another adventure.

What makes it easier is that we're going to a place we know where we have a community. We don't have to start completely over again.

If we took only one lesson from all of these moves it is to truly appreciate every little thing in the moment. Don't fall into the trap of "there's plenty of time for that." Because there's not. That's an illusion.

Moving again.

Does it get easier each time?

No. You'd think it would. But, for some reason it just doesn't. Probably because of this whole aging thing. The desire to plant roots. Especially as parents.

As our friend Porter said when I told her the news: "We are a more global generation."

Sometimes I think life would be easier if you never knew anything even existed outside your little world.

Then I slap myself. And remember how many amazing adventures life has given me and how I love being "global."

But change isn't easy. And we are no different than anyone else. We still have the same fears about change.

We worry. We fret. We stress.

And somehow we act in the face of all of that.

By remembering what we're committed to. By getting that it's not supposed to be easy. It's not even supposed to be hard. It just is. It is the way it is. And if you want things. Like financial freedom. It's more than likely going to be uncomfortable in the 'going for it.'

I'm so clear that status quo is so much easier. But apparently that's just not who we are.

This move is our chance to take every lesson we've learned through marital crisis and foreclosure and short sale and bankruptcy.... this is our chance to take all of that and be free. No longer burdened by debt. No longer stressed about how we'll save for our son's future. And live a created life.

The universe opened the window.

All we have to do is step through.

Or allow our fear to paint it shut.

But we made a commitment to each other... to be bigger than our fear. To grab opportunities. So... we will not allow our fear to pain this window shut.

Which is why we are moving.

Back to L.A.

Just shy of three years after losing the house.

The latest Walker adventure.
As my mom says, the only constant with us is change.
I hope to settle down one day. I do.
But for now... let the whirlwind begin.


The details

-Bob's new job is with 20th Century Fox

-He starts the first week of May

-We are looking for an apartment in Culver City. Why Culver City? Because it's a great community that is really close to Bob's job. We plan on remaining a one-car family, so a short commute is really essential. We need something that is dog friendly, kid friendly and visitor friendly. We know we've been spoiled by this apartment and by Andrew- our landlord. But we're hoping to find something similar. Tall ceilings. Lots of light. A yard. 

-We're also looking for awesome people to take over our apartment in the Lincoln Square neighborhood on Chicago's north side. If you're interested, write me at for details and pics.

What do you think? Are we insane? Or would we be insane not to go?

Enhanced by Zemanta


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...