Reflections on Two Years in Indiana

When I announced on this blog that we were moving from San Diego to Indiana, I started the post with the following paragraph:

In You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly makes the difficult decision to close her beloved The Shop Around the Corner children’s bookstore. It’s a decision that, she notes, was not an easy one as the shop was such a large part of her life since she was a young girl. When she tells the older and wiser Birdie of the plan, her friend replies, “Closing the store is the brave thing to do … you are daring to imagine that you could have a different life.”

Last month marked two years since we moved to Indiana. At that time, I never could have imagined the different life I have today. But I am so grateful for it.

On July 24, 2016, I drove away in a packed car, along with Sophie, two dogs, a cat, and a nervous excitement for the road trip and new life ahead. One of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve had in my life was driving that four days across country, away from San Diego and toward Terre Haute. There was something incredibly freeing about knowing that all I had was the open road ahead and what was in the car with me. Even if I wanted to turn back, there was not a home to go back to (in the general sense). I don’t remember ever feeling that unconfined in my entire life — there was no going backwards; only forward, to a new idea of home.

On July 27, 2016, I pulled into the driveway of our new home in Terre Haute. I (literally) did not know one soul in town. I had no idea where anything was and had to use Google Maps to find the closest grocery store and coffee shop. I was a complete stranger in my new town. I slowly started meeting people, going to events around town, and joining Sophie’s  school PTO. A few months later, I was almost jubilant the first time I ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store.

About a month after we moved to Indiana, I wrote this blog post about my observations of Midwest life and how it differed from Southern California. So much of this still rings true. I’m still in awe of the lush greenery, towering trees, and vast open spaces around me. I’ve never in my life felt this “free” in my surroundings, and I love experiencing the four seasons and seeing nature change before my eyes.

I’ve come to love living in Indiana for other reasons too. Living here – and moving out of my bubble – has given me a new understanding and perspective when it comes to understanding friends, neighbors and those that may have different political affiliations and backgrounds. That new perspective led to my editorial about how moving from a blue state to a red state changed my life. Living here also helped me write other pieces, such as this one about how we can honor Anthony Bourdain’s legacy by embracing one of the guiding principles that was present through his daily work: going to parts unknown and getting to know “the other.”

It’s surreal to know I never would have these new perspectives and written these pieces had we not moved to Indiana.

Moving to Terre Haute also helped me take ownership of my health and wellness. And living here helped me fall in love with running, and how running throughout the seasons would become a life-changing experience. I now crave being outdoors and exploring new trails, parks and sights in a way I’ve never felt before.

While I’m an introvert at heart, I can’t imagine not sharing this life with the wonderful friends I’ve met here, and I’m so grateful for my new tribe of people. And while not every moment of our life in Indiana has been happy and stress-free, I am so grateful I have the life I do. My core feels home. I belong in this place — both physical and mental — with everything that symbolizes home to me.

If there’s one truth I’ve learned in my two years in Indiana, it’s this: with every change comes new opportunities, new perspectives, new experiences, and new people. I can’t imagine being in a parallel universe where I didn’t have this life. And while change is scary, it’s not something to necessarily fear. Because you never know what may be on the other side of that door to a different life.

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