Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I cried from the front door of my parents’ house in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, through most of Connecticut. I remember the first time I stopped for a bathroom break, getting back into the car and thinking, “Man, it smells like dog sh*t in this car.” In fact, there was dog sh*t in the car, which I had tracked in on the sole of my Dansko. I know I had stopped crying by that point, because I remember feeling like I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and you can’t decide whether you need to cry if you’re already in tears.

I was moving to Boulder, Colorado, a town I had visited exactly once. I had quit my job and terminated my lease. I had about a dozen appointments to look at apartments and a friend to stay with for a couple of nights while I got my feet on the ground. I had a Garmin Nuvi to tell me how to get where I was going. I had no idea what I was doing.

I told my parents I planned to stay in Boulder for a year and then I would see how I felt. I don’t remember whether I actually believed that. I do remember feeling my heart break a little bit on the eve of my departure when my dad told me, “I’m afraid that you’ll get there,  you’ll  love it, and you won’t come back. I don’t want my baby so far away.”

I had moved back home to Rhode Island from North Carolina, where I’d lived most of my adult life, a year and a half prior. I had just gotten used to being back in my family’s usual rhythm- if there is such a thing when the kids are adults- and I was leaving again.

When the idea first occurred to me, it seemed obvious; Duh, why NOT move to Boulder!? I had no mortgage, no boyfriend, not even a goldfish tethering me to Pawtucket. Why wouldn’t I go where there the bike lanes were wide and plentiful, the sunshine bright, and the people friendly and crunchy?

I scoured Craigslist for apartments and jobs and immediately knew why I shouldn’t do it. It was scary. Where would I live? Where would I work? Would I have to sell my big green comfy couch, my first piece of adult furniture? How would I transport the oversized ceramic jack-o-lantern I made in the tenth grade? Would Southwest ever offer a direct flight from Denver to Providence?

How could I abandon the comfortable life I had created for myself in Rhode Island? I got to be with my family for birthdays, holidays, or no reason at all. (Which most of the time, was a good thing). I had a group of girlfriends, I had a Masters swimming group, running buddies, and people to ride with. I had (mostly) figured out the poorly marked, tree lined, pothole riddled New England back roads that were perfect for long training rides.  I knew where to get the best cup of coffee, the freshest sushi, the ultimate pizza, and the tastiest breakfast.

And for everything I didn’t know, I had my family. My dad knew all the secret parking spots in downtown Providence, my mom knew just who to call when I needed to hire man in a gorilla suit to sing Happy Birthday, my sister knew where to get a bikini wax, and my brother had a guy for just about everything else.

I was afraid to leave but I was afraid to stay. What if I always regretted not leaving when I had the chance? What if I was still single by the time my much younger sister married, and it was all my fault because my perfect guy was in Colorado? What if I decided to move when I was 40 but by then it would be impossible to make new friends because I’d be the only one without children?

I felt like I was at the top of the high dive. From the bottom, diving in looks like an awesome thing to do. At the top, diving in feels like a ridiculously stupid thing to do. Climbing back down the ladder would be embarrassing but not embarrassing enough to stop you.

As I pulled away from my parents’ house that dark January morning, my material things packed strategically into every square inch of my Jetta, apprehension and sadness crowding my heart, I dove into my fears headfirst. And somewhere in Connecticut, as I scraped the dog sh*t off my shoe with a tissue soaked in hand sanitizer gel, I forgot to be sad for my old life. With two clean shoes on my feet and a hot cup of coffee in my drink holder, I headed west as a smile crept into my heart.


 This post was brought to you by Finish the Sentence Friday (FTSF).

Finish the Sentence FridayT

he Sentence was “The hardest choice I ever made was…” Please visit the FTSF blog hop hosts:

Stephanie at Mommy for Real, Kristi From Finding Ninee, Janine from Janine’s Confessions of  Mommyholic, and Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine



26 thoughts on “Should I Stay or Should I Go?

  1. Janine Huldie says:

    Totally loved the irony in finding dog poop on the bottom of your shoe, but will say sounds like this really was a very hard decision to make, but think from what you shared it was the right one for you. Thanks for indeed sharing and linking up with us again as always!! 🙂

  2. Kristi Campbell says:

    Oh my gosh, I did almost the opposite move. I moved from Denver, Colorado (where I grew up) to Washington, DC. Boulder is beautiful and amazing and if you are still there, I am totally jealous. I miss Colorado. So much. You were SO brave.

  3. Jean says:

    I actually jerked forward in my chair when I saw what song you had included in this post. That song reminds me of several huge decisions of mine and it always does when I hear it. When we moved away from family earlier this year I said “We’ll try it out for a year.” It helps to have a short timeframe to make things a little less scary.

  4. Rich Rumple says:

    I hate to say it, but I was born in Newport, R.I. That being said, I had no choice in leaving the state as my parents moved to Indiana in the middle of the night, much like the Colts did from Baltimore years later. Decades later, I moved to the South to pursue a radio career, much to the dismay of my family. The distance between was good for me as it forced me to find the strength from within as there was no one else to depend on. I’ve never looked back and debated that decision. My wife, whom I met in the South, would kill me if I did! As if you couldn’t tell, I really related to your tale. Great job!

    • Pam says:

      Wow, thanks! Feel free to go back to the archives in early 2008 to see what happened next, but in a nutshell, I met a guy, married him, had a baby, and lived happily ever after:)

  5. Jessica Smock says:

    Just lovely. Moving is awful, really awful. You perfectly capture the anxiety, nostalgia, terror, but also possibility of moving to a new place. I’ve done it. It’s hard but usually so worth it! Someday I want to visit Boulder…. Maybe a HerStories retreat next year? 🙂

  6. Tarja says:

    Pam! I loved this story – and you included a Liz Phair video to boot, awesome! Moving alone takes guts, scary but thrilling. And look at you now.

    Hope all is well, friend!

  7. clark says:

    …well, it is Rhode Island!*

    What an interesting (and therefore exciting and intimidating) contrast in places to live. How much more difficult (or maybe easy) is it to make a decision to change (one’s life) when it involves physical, drastic physical action!
    My total respect for do something like this without letting the fear…not make you turn back (that would not have been the worst thing) or make you hold too closely to where you left so that you would not get the real benefit of where you were going…

    cool story

    *I can make that joke, living here as I do

  8. Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says:

    Tat was a brave decision. I grew up in a small town in NC and just going to college a couple hours away in a “big city” felt like a big deal. Now, that I have traveled more, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live somewhere else – Europe, Australia – at least for a while. However, I don’t know if I would have the guts to actually do it, especially now that I have kids, etc.

  9. Lisa says:

    I have lived your move, Pam! This post was AMAZING! It brought me right back to my drive(s) to NY when I made the plunge 12.5 years ago. Details like dog shit and the fact that you listened to cool indie music while I listened to cheap books on CD might not match up, but the overall enormity of moving your life to an unknown super-awesome place was right there for me. Thanks for an awesome trip down memory lane:).

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