Originally published on Huffington Post on May 30, 2013.
The phone rang. It was Tami.
Pam: “Yes, what’s up, girl?”
Tami (with determination and sadness): “I made a decision. It’s time to leave.”
Pam (astonished): “You’ve been talking about it for a while. How do you know it’s time?”
Tami: “I went to a funeral today. It’s time, I just know it.”
On one hand, she absolutely loves Portland, holds a prestigious legal councel position and is blessed with a close circle of friends. Also, her 14-year-old son, born and raised in Portland, is less than enthusiastic about leaving.
On the other hand: Philadelphia has the best learning development school for her 11-year-old daughter with a learning disability. After visiting the school, she knows this school will prepare her daughter to attend a regular school and lead an independent life in the future.
Yet, there is so much at stake: uncertain job opportunities, her son’s resistance, the ability to adapt to a new town, new schools and new social circles. She’s known the pros and cons, but was not ready to make a call. She’s been afraid of making wrong decisions for herself, her daughter and son.
One day, she was glancing at the Oregonian‘s obituary section, something she usually doesn’t do. She noticed a familiar name. It’s one of the first friends she met when she came to Portland 20 years ago. They were good friends initially, but grew apart over the years. She was shocked to learn of his passing at the age of 52 and was determined to go to his funeral to bid him farewell.
On the way home from the service, Tami started crying uncontrollably. She knew the time has come. Going to the funeral of a friend she first met 20 years ago in Portland gave her symbolic closure to this chapter of her life.
Frankly, Tami and I have known it’s been time to move on since she first discussed the issue with me. But she was waiting for a sign to validate her decision. An event to propel her to action.
Her company allowed her to work part-time and remotely from Philadelphia for the first six months. More validation that she is moving in the right direction. She was excited for the move and was looking forward to the change.
Almost one year has passed since her move last August. Tami, her son and her daughter are still adjusting to the house, the school and the neighborhood. The lifestyle and communications etiquette on the East Coast are very different than in the casual Pacific Northwest.
Tami’s part-time position with the Portland-based company came to an end in April. She started a contractor position with a local firm and hopes to be a full-time employee soon. Although her son, Mitchell, is doing OK in school and playing sports, Tami senses that he misses his friends and Portland terribly. From time to time, Mitchell takes out his frustration on Tami. It usually ends with a fight followed by apologies. Her daughter, Sarah, didn’t start going to the Special Education school until February. Everything took longer than expected.
I asked Tami if she regrets the decision. She said no. She still believes it’s the right decision for Sarah and her family. A decision was made! She is determined to make the best of it. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Regret is not an option. You need to be resilient and keep moving forward.
A huge portion of Tami’s heart is and will always be in Portland. My dear friend, I will be waiting for your visit this summer with our favorite Oregon wine. I will be waiting.