last summer, july 4th, ben applied for the assistant manager position at a new sherwin williams (S.W.) store being opened in cody, wyoming. there were several major reasons for him to apply:
- he was getting plenty of hours during the summer at the S.W. in red wing, but come fall, business would slow down, and between my full-time hours and his hours at the store, we wouldn't have been making enough to make the payments on our house. he would either need to find a new job that was full-time, or get another part-time job.
- originally, when we bought the house (the summer of 2008), ben was in the process of completing his teaching certification and only had one year to go. had he completed the program, the plan was for him to find a (hopefully nearby) teaching job, and that plus my earnings would certainly have been enough to make our house payments. but in january of 2009, after starting the student-teaching portion of the certification, it became very clear that ben was not meant to be a teacher - he could do it, but it was like watching him wither away before my very eyes. it was a very difficult decision for him, and i know that dropping the program after one and a half years of tuition and classes and hard work felt so counter-productive to him. however, it made less sense to continue and pay for another full semester when he knew he wasn't going to pursue teaching. so he dropped the program and started taking on more hours with S.W.; a lot of the draw to this new job prospect in wyoming was that it was a fresh start in a new place after what i believe he felt was a very disappointing decision - even if it was the right one.
- another major reason were the benefits. as an assistant manager for S.W., he'd be getting great benefits: really good health, dental and eye insurance. at the time, it was my current job that would be getting us insurance - although i was still in the "new hire" waiting period, and we had been without insurance for quite some time. if ben's job was the one providing our insurance, it meant we would be one step closer to having kids - something we'd both been wanting for awhile.
with those reasons in mind, and after discussing all the factors and praying over it, he applied. we asked God to close the doors if we weren't meant to be there, and to open them if we were. it was a long shot, but he got it.
so near the end of july, the 23rd or 24th? we drove ben out in his little blue truck so he could start the job and we could both get to see the place we'd be living. i was optimistic and hopeful, but looking back, i realize most of my excitement was simply an echo of ben's excitement for this new adventure.
i went back to red wing a few days after to pack up the house, get it ready to either sell or rent (we ended up renting it out), and tie up loose ends before meeting up with ben in chicago for a U2 concert in september, then heading back to MN to pick up all our stuff in red wing, and making the complete move to wyoming in mid september.
i think my trouble with wyoming started when i got back to red wing. i had an entire month to get everything done, but i struggled. living without ben (sure, we talked every day, but it's just not the same) and then being surrounded by so many things that i really loved and realized i would be leaving behind: my job at the cafe, the people i worked with, the youth group i helped out with, the church we attended, my friends, our house that we fixed up and put so much of ourselves into, the bluffs and parks that surrounded it that i enjoyed frequently, the accessibility to ben's family in MN and my friends and family back in chicago... it wore me down, and by september, i had no desire to move.
but it was too late, ben accepted the job, was already out there, and it was time for me to be supportive and encouraging and to let go of my frustrations. while i was no longer happy or excited to be moving all the way out to this foreign land of mountains and sagebrush, i felt it was selfish to be honest about my change of heart. i tried to keep it to myself, which only made it worse, but i was keeping the pebble in my shoe.
it definitely took me a long time to adjust, and poor cody, wyoming, there was no way it could ever live up to everything i had held so dearly; it was clouded by my veil of bitterness over all that i was missing back in red wing.
with time, we finally found a church that we connected with, and i was able to find a job that i enjoyed. we started making friends, and becoming a part of the community. and because, as reason #3 stated, we now had insurance, i had gone off birth control when my last pill pack ran out in september. it was something new to look forward to, something to be excited and hopeful for.
as for the pebble in my shoe, because i'd struggled so horribly with adjusting to this new move, ben highly encouraged me to pursue counseling so i would have someone to talk out these frustrations with, as i still felt i shouldn't even be feeling so bitter, let alone talking about it. the fact of the matter was that my approach in this manner was not helping, but i refused to let it go, so i agreed and started meeting with a lady once a week to air out all these pent-up aggravations that i had felt so obligated to try and hide.
in meeting with her i was able to realize that it was okay to mourn for what we had left, that it was okay to be upset, and learn how to move out of that mourning. i realized things about myself that had been invisible hinderances to the person that i desire to be but struggled so much to embody, and learned how to remove the hinderances. i was able to remove the pebble from my shoe.
so with all that, and then getting pregnant and knowing that we have this baby developing inside of me to prepare for and be excited about, i finally got to see wyoming for what it was, and not through the resentment that i had for it when we first got there. it is definitely a different culture than what we're used to, and the topographical climate is not my favorite: mostly varied shades of brown and grey, very rocky, not a lot of green or color in the vegetation.
i truly loved (and still do) the friends that we made there. and wyoming is a pretty neat place, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. however, i was able to find contentment - and i know that had a lot to do with how much we enjoyed the friendships we had out there.
had i not gotten pregnant, ben wouldn't have pursued a relocation with S.W., and we would have stayed longer. and had he not gotten that relocation that moved us back to MN, we would have still been content to stay there. but moving out so far away from family, we realized how much we valued having them around. being stripped of our comfort zone and safety net, i, for one, was able to see myself more clearly and adjust the things i wasn't happy with.
and the position ben applied for out here was another long shot. once again, we asked God to bless it if it was within His will for us, and to close the doors if we were supposed to stay in wyoming. but just as before, long shots aren't a problem for God, and here we are.
if i could go back and change things to work out so that we never had to go, so that we could have stayed in our house in red wing and still get our own family going, i admit it would be slightly tempting, but i still wouldn't do it.
looking back on our time there, it was certainly difficult at first, but it was full of growth. i may have hated it in the beginning, but i'm so glad we went. i don't look back on wyoming still feeling like i did in the beginning. i look back with gratitude, with cherished memories of the people whose lives we got to be a part of, and with appreciation for what we were able to learn about ourselves while we were there.
ultimately, i look back on our time there with this fact in mind: i love that it's now a part of our story, that we moved to wyoming to start a family, to have this baby (even if this baby won't be born there), and we got so much more along with it.
this thing called life is such an adventure, and a great one at that.