The Big Move

It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that my parents started to bring up the topic of moving. We had been visiting our vacation home in Virginia more often and we no longer loved living in Pennsylvania. The roads were crowded and the people were not the best spirited. Plus, I knew that I wanted to attend James Madison University. My dad, like any good financial advisor, pointed out that living in Virginia would mean in-state tuition.

So there we were. Standing at the door of our childhood home, saying goodbye for the last time. This was not just any home. We purchased the property when it was, to say the least, undesirable. It had nothing but a small stone house on it. Our family of four lived in the one thousand square foot house for a year while my mom took on the task of designing a new home for us, then overseeing every step of the building process. My childhood was filled with memories of us playing in our new basement, just days after the cement was poured, or playing on the mounds of sand and dirt that excavators had brought to the property during construction. This house was not just filled with memories from my childhood, but it was quite literally built with memories too.

It was hard letting go of life in Pennsylvania. For generations, no one had moved away from Pennsylvania on both sides of our family. Our entire family lived within a 30-mile radius of us; it was hard to imagine that they would suddenly be so far away. We made the move though and slowly our small family of four started to get into the rhythm of living in Virginia. While we loved it, we just never felt right.

At this point, we had been visiting Whitefish, Montana for three years. We visited for ski trips and summer hiking trips. We loved being there. Stepping off the plane in Montana didn’t feel like stepping into a vacation, rather it felt like going home, even if we were staying in the local B&B. An entire year after living in Virginia it finally clicked—we needed to move again. This time, to the place that was right for us.

Now, this move was no small feat. Days were consumed with filling moving boxes, taking carloads of items to the Goodwill (you can’t imagine how happy Dad was about that tax deduction) and loading moving trucks. Being the thrifty family we are, we opted out of having someone else drive the moving trucks across the country. Instead, my mom and dad drove a 24 foot U-Haul, with a 12-foot pull-behind attached to it. My parents hit the road for their cross-country journey. It took them four days to drive from Virginia to our new home in Whitefish, Montana.

I would be lying to you if I said any of this was easy. When we left Pennsylvania we left behind our family and childhood memories. When we left Virginia we left a beautiful home on a lake that we thought would be our forever place. Moving to Montana meant moving even further away from our family. The first months living in Montana were hard, we all had second guesses. We had no friends, no family nearby. It was a new way of life entirely. Yet, every time we questioned if moving to Montana was right for us, we would find something new to love.

At the end of the day, why live somewhere you don’t love with your entire heart? Home is a feeling, not the four walls that surround you. Montana was that feeling for our family on our first ski vacation in 2012, and it still is that feeling today.