I very distinctly remember two instances growing up when I stood in my the dining room of my house weeping uncontrollably. One was when I when I was in 8th or 9th grade, and my parents were asking me and my brother how we felt about the idea of moving. I really don’t even remember the reason why they were proposing a move to us, but what stands out so clearly to me was an instant feeling of panic and nausea. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving our house, my friends and my school, and really everything that was familiar and comfortable to me. And so I begged them not to move us. I may have even been on my hands and knees and/or in the fetal position, such was the level of drama I was putting on display. Whatever it was, I got my wish. We didn’t move.
Five or six years later, I was once again crying in the dining room. This time, even though I had technically left the nest to go to college, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and sadness because it was our family’s last night in that house. My parents had finally decided to move (albeit just a 10-minute drive across town), and as I began thinking about all the memories we had made there, and how we were now leaving them behind, I couldn’t control the alligator tears that began rushing down my cheeks.
You see, growing up, I hated change. Hated it. I craved routine and familiarity. On my first day of 3rd grade, right after we had moved to Knoxville (which became– and still is– my hometown), I cried through the entire Pledge of Allegiance. I simply didn’t know how I would be able to deal with so much change… new school, new teacher, new friends, new house. It was too much new.
And then something began to change. I think it really started when we began taking family vacations to fun and exciting cities like New York and Boston and Charleston. I would walk the streets and find myself dreaming about living wherever it is we were. Suddenly, the idea of change and a fresh start and new experiences seemed wildly appealing to me. I have no idea where this newfound sense of adventure came from, but next thing I knew, I was applying to go to college in cities everywhere but Knoxville and couldn’t wait to embark on a new chapter of life in an exciting new place. That’s how I ended up living and going to school in Charleston, South Carolina (one of my favorite cities to date).
When I met and began dating Jamie, my eagerness to explore new things and places only multiplied. He had spent a lot of his life moving around (from Georgia to Oklahoma to California to Tennessee), so he had been exposed to all sorts of different cultures (and climates!) from an early age. (Although granted, he did also have a moment of begging his parents not to take him away from his school and friends… he just doesn’t talk about that part. ;)) His passion for seeing new parts of the country was contagious, and pretty much as soon as we got married in Knoxville, we began scheming our next big move.
That’s how we ended up packing up a moving van and heading west to Salt Lake City, where we spent the next year and a half or so learning about Mormon culture, driving in REAL snow, living in the cutest apartment downtown, and basically just having lots of adventures together. The two of us. Because home is wherever I’m with you.
Then, when my dad had his stroke in 2010, we made the decision to return to the Southeast to be closer to family. While my dad was literally still in the hospital in Knoxville, Jamie began submitting his resume to different companies in different cities, and somehow, someway, he was immediately offered a job in Birmingham. Just like with Salt Lake, we had never even visited Birmingham, but we just had a really good feeling about it and were up for yet another adventure.
Nearly three years later, Birmingham is still the city we fell in love with those first few weeks of living here. It’s where we bought our first house, it’s where we’ve made lifelong friends, it’s where I’ve established a successful business. It’s where Jamie has had 3 different jobs (normal pace for him!). To be completely honest with you, the whole time we’ve lived here, I’ve viewed Birmingham as our indefinite home. The place where we would “settle down,” maybe the place where we’d one day have kids. I just seriously love this city. I love the people here, I love the friends we’ve made, I love the food and the culture and our adorable little house.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans….
A little back story first. Jamie is a history major, but he’s a web and software developer by trade. Pretty much completely self-taught, with the encouragement of one of our good friends Brandon. For the past 4 years or so, despite having no formal education in software development, he has worked his way from job to job, challenging himself to sharpen his skills, learn new things, and push himself. In the past year, he has worked as a web developer for two different advertising and branding companies in Birmingham, and even after a long day at work, he’ll often come home and spend another 2-3 hours teaching himself how to do new things and researching and practicing as much as possible, particularly with the Ruby programming language. (He loves Ruby on Rails. I know absolutely nothing about any of it.)
A few weeks ago, he randomly got an email reminder from one of the big job search engines to update his resumé. He thought, sure, why not, and submitted a new version including his most recent experience with Ruby on Rails. The next day, he went into work and had more than 15 emails in his inbox and received 6 or 7 phone calls, all offering him jobs, many in tech-heavy cities like San Francisco and New York and with starting salaries over twice what he was making at the time. That night, he came home from work with a look on his face and said he needed to talk to me about something. He began the conversation by saying he didn’t want to move me anywhere, buuuuut….. there were these amazing opportunities pouring in from all directions, none of them based in Birmingham, and he had no idea what to do. It turns out that Ruby developers are in extremely high demand and low supply right now, and companies from all over were essentially banging down his door to offer him a job. But for the time being, he was politely declining them because he knew how happy we were here and didn’t want that to have to change.
When he first told me all this, I felt a knot forming in the pit of my stomach and I tried not to let my emotions show on my face. On the one hand, I wanted to jump up and down and shout with happiness because he was finally being acknowledged and rewarded for all the hard work he had put in to learning Ruby on his own. He was in demand… what an amazing feeling that is! But on the other hand… my 8th-grade-self, my but I don’t waaaannna move self, was rearing its ugly head deep inside me. So we decided to just table the discussion and see what would happen over the next few days.
Just a couple of days later, I flew out to Austin, Texas for the first time with my friend Mary Margaret to shoot Sarah and Steffen’s wedding. And you guys… I fell HARD for that city. It was actually exactly what I needed at the time… I wanted to distract myself from thinking about the possibility of moving, but little did I know that this trip to Austin was actually preparing my heart and my mind for a possible move. Within 12 hours of being there (after sampling some of the food trucks, wandering around South Congress, and driving through some of the cutest neighborhoods with the most colorful houses I’ve ever seen), I was texting Jamie nonstop about how much I loved Austin. How I really felt like I fit in there. People dressed like me. Everything was so colorful and fun and sunny and full of life. They had the coolest antique shops I had ever been in. Everywhere we went was super dog-friendly (some restaurants even had a separate doggie menu!). And there was just this feeling, this vibe, to the city that I adored. Yep, I was smitten.
So you can imagine how bittersweet (and surreal) it was to get a late night phone call from Jamie from Bakerfield, California, just a week or two later, telling me that he had been offered the job he had just interviewed for with Lightspeed Systems at their Austin office. It was an unbelievable opportunity. But he even as he was excitedly telling me all about the company and what his position would be, he stopped and said, “…. But if you don’t want to go, we won’t go. I just want you to be happy.”
And that’s when those oh-so-familiar alligator tears began welling up in my eyes. All the “buts” started coming up like word vomit. But we just bought this house! And I’ve spent so much time working on it and I love it so much! But most of our friends JUST moved into our neighborhood and we LOVE our small group and our neighbors and our church! But my business… my business I’ve worked so hard to build… what will happen to it? But my parents are going to be so disappointed! But we were just getting settled! But… but… but…
BUT…. here’s the thing. We’re only 27 years old. I’m not quite ready to be done with having adventures. I don’t want to get stuck in my ways. I’ll leave settling down for when we start actually having kids for real. (And for the Bump Patrol out there, no, we do not know when that will be!) And who knows, maybe eventually our path will lead us back to this city we love so dearly.
But for now… it’s happening. We didn’t plan it, and we’re just as surprised as you are, but we’re officially moving to Austin! This opportunity is truly far too good to pass up, and as my grandmother said, “I’ve lived long enough to know you shouldn’t just let opportunities pass you by. Life is too short.” The word I keep using to describe this whole experience is bittersweet, because I keep going back and forth between sadness for what we’ll be leaving behind and excitement for all the new and wonderful things we’ve yet to encounter.
As far as the logistics go, for those of you (especially clients!) who are probably wondering… We will not actually physically be moving for 6 months (maybe more for me). I have weddings booked here in Birmingham through the last weekend of December, and it just wouldn’t make sense to move and then fly back for all of those. So Lightspeed generously offered to let Jamie work remotely for these first six months to help make the transition smoother. However, we decided to go ahead and put our house on the market just because we’re afraid of getting stuck with it after we move. So if anyone out there is interested in the most adorable 3/1 in Crestwood that you ever did see, check out our listing and come by for a visit! ;)
As far as the future of Morgan Trinker Photography goes, this isn’t my first rodeo restarting my business in a new city, and I’m really not sweating it too much. I mean, it definitely isn’t going to be easy, but in a way, I feel like this sort of challenge is exactly what I needed at this stage in my growth. I do feel like in a lot of ways I’ve gotten too comfortable, and sometimes I miss the days when I was HUNGRY for work and willing to push myself like crazy to make it happen. And I’m not gonna lie…. I think Austin is probably my most ideal wedding market and will have all sorts of clients I will LOVE, so I’m excited about that as well! But never fear, Birmingham clients– my goal is to book 5-7 weddings back here in 2014 while I’m transitioning into the Austin market… plus, I just want another excuse to come back and visit often. :) So I plan to offer special pricing just for Birmingham weddings during this time, and I’ll be rolling that out fairly shortly before booking season kicks back into high gear.
And for those of you who have asked, but what will Kelly do? She’ll be okay. We’ll be okay. We’re both obviously sad, but we have no plans of breaking up. :)
I feel like the length of this post is getting out of control, and I’m sure there will be more questions to answer in the months to come, but for now, I want to leave you with an excerpt from Donald Miller’s book Through Painted Deserts. I posted it back when we first moved to Utah, but I feel like it’s absolutely applicable and bears repeating now. I love these words so much, and they’re so comforting to me. I wish I could have spoken them to the 13-year-old me who couldn’t imagine ever leaving her home in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“I remember the sweet sensation of leaving, years ago, some ten now, leaving Texas for who knows where. I could not have known about this beautiful place, the Oregon I have come to love, this city of great people, this smell of coffee and these evergreens reaching up into a mist of sky, these sunsets spilling over the west hills to slide a red glow down the streets of my town.
And I could not have known then that if I had been born here, I would have left here, gone someplace south to deal with horses, to get on some open land where you can see tomorrow’s storm brewing over a high desert. I could not have known then that everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God’s way. All my life I have been changing. [...] Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.
I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.
Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning. And the closest thing I can liken life to is a book, the way it stretches out on paper, page after page, as if to trick the mind into thinking it isn’t all happening at once. [...]
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”