“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but of looking outward together in the same direction.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
[Jamie and I loved this quote so much we had it printed on our wedding programs, and now, seven years later, it feels so much truer than it did even then. And I hope that continues to be the case for the rest of our lives.]
If you had told me a year ago that I’d be sitting here today writing this post, at first I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Then, after some consideration, I’d have remembered who we were talking about, laughed, and responded with something along the lines of “Figures!” After all, in our nearly 7 years of marriage, Jamie and I have moved 6 times across 3 states (and almost moved to Austin, TX somewhere in there). In that same span of time, Jamie has had… um…. *quite a few* job changes, and we’ve both forged our self-taught (and for me, self-employed) career paths along the way. We’ve now bought and sold two houses before turning 30, and we’ve traveled all over the country and seen so many amazing things and places. Needless to say, we keep our families on the edge of their seats with every phone call home. ;)
When we first moved away from our hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee 6 years ago, I couldn’t imagine coming back. Maybe because I felt like it would be admitting defeat, that we couldn’t hack it on our own in the world. Maybe because I was just so ready to move on with our life, no looking or turning back. Even when my dad had a stroke in the summer of 2010, while we were living in Salt Lake City, we weren’t ready to move back to Knoxville, and so we chose Birmingham instead to be closer to family. That’s a decision I’ll be forever grateful for, because the past 5 years here have been nothing but amazing for us. We’ve made friends who are more like family, thrived in our church and neighborhood and creative communities, and built a life for ourselves that couldn’t be more fulfilling or wonderful.
That’s why I was so taken aback when, last fall, on our trip to Vermont, after a couple of glasses of wine at dinner, Jamie announced out of the blue that he was feeling like we should move back to Knoxville. Not because these kinds of “let’s make a major life change!” conversations are unusual for us (obviously), but because it’s the kind of change I wasn’t expecting. It felt like a step backwards, a change in the wrong direction. At that point, I still didn’t feel ready to leave Birmingham and couldn’t imagine living in Knoxville again. So we talked it out, and (mostly because of me) decided to stay put for the indefinite future. And I felt happy and relieved and at peace with the decision.
That is, until some months later, on one of the first sunny and warm Saturday mornings following a particularly bleak winter, as I was driving down Montclair Road on the way to a portrait session, and a bluegrass song came on the radio. I’m fully aware of how cheesy and far-fetched this sounds, but I’m serious… the feeling struck me like a bolt of lightning. The feeling that we, without a doubt, needed to– and more surprisingly, that I truly wanted to— move back to Knoxville. I can honestly only attribute to God this kind of a sudden, 180 degree change of heart. I haven’t second-guessed it one day since.
The reason for moving back is pretty simple and can be summed up in one word: home. Jamie and I have both wanted kids for as long as we can remember, and we would love for it to happen one way or another in the next few years. As much as we adore Birmingham, I don’t think anywhere will feel as much like home as East Tennessee does to both of us. Thinking about our kids not growing up around the Smoky Mountains and Dolly Parton (and Dollywood) and Tomato Head and Tennessee football and the national Biscuit Festival and bluegrass music… well, call me sentimental, but it’s just kind of hard to imagine. Even though Jamie wasn’t Tennessee-born, he spent the most formative years of his life there, from middle school through college, and considers it home more than any other place he’s lived. He’s a Southerner, as far as we’re concerned. :)
Please hear me when I say, all you Birmingham folks we’ve come to love so dearly, that we’re not moving because we want to leave Birmingham or because we’ve been unhappy here. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. That’s why, even though this decision feels very right for us, the change and transition that will come from it are by no means going to be easy. And please don’t be offended if you’re finding out by reading this, because this time around, we only told our immediate family members and best friends in person first. Having been through the process of breaking this kind of news to people we love three times now, we can say with certainty that it absolutely sucks. No matter how exciting and good the future may be, it’s not enjoyable to say goodbye (or even, in this case, “see ya later”). It almost makes you want to pull a Michael Scott and pick up the phone to tell Holly you’re calling off the whole move to Colorado because it’s too hard to leave and watch as your friends carry on their lives without you in it every single day. But then, of course, you hear Holly’s voice, and you’re reminded why it is you’re moving, and that sometimes you just have to allow yourself to feel, and then push through, the sadness and fear and worry. We love you guys, and we’ll miss you and this city so much, but we WILL be back to visit OFTEN. Knoxville is just a few hours away, so weekend trips are going to be frequent. :)
To answer some lingering questions you might be having:
What about your business?
Actually, not much is changing as far as Morgan Trinker Photography is concerned. Since Knoxville is still pretty close to Birmingham, I’m going to continue booking and shooting weddings here as I have been (with no additional travel fees) for the indefinite future. But I do plan and hope to book more in Knoxville as well, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with some photographer friends there and meeting some in person that I’ve only known online for the past few years. I think it’ll be a welcome challenge and change of pace for me and will get me out of my comfort zone a bit, which will be nice. But generally speaking, whether you’re in Birmingham or Knoxville, not much will be different if you’re wanting to book me for your wedding!
What about Jamie’s job?
When I first told Jamie about my change of heart after I got home from my session that day, I told him in no uncertain terms that I was anticipating a 6-ish month timeline for this move to happen. But of course, you know what they say about plans. Jamie started feeling out the job market in Knoxville right away, landed an interview with a company within a week, and was offered the job the same day he interviewed, along with a not-insignificant salary increase. So we felt like that was a pretty strong sign that this was meant to be, and that he couldn’t just pass on it, so he accepted. He actually started working there a few weeks ago and has been living with my parents during the week and commuting back to Birmingham on weekends, where I’ve stayed to deal with our house and because it’s the middle of wedding season and didn’t make sense for us to both make a big crazy move right at this moment. It hasn’t been easy going through this stretch of the process living mostly apart and working opposite schedules, but we know it’ll be over soon and worth it in the end.
Speaking of… what about your HOUSE?!
I know, I know. We’re insane. When we bought this house, I was so over moving that I made Jamie swear to me that this would be a 5-10 year house. MINIMUM. Well…. we made it 18 whole months. Ha! And in that time, I have poured countless hours and blood, sweat, and tears (yes, all 3) into renovating it room by room. So people assume that I’m sad to leave it behind or regret doing all that work for “nothing,” but honestly, that’s not the case. It’s not so much the finished product that I work toward (although it’s nice, to be sure). It’s just that I really, truly *love* the process. There’s something so satisfying to me about making a house (especially an old and charming one) beautiful, regardless of how long I personally get to enjoy it. And if you’re wondering why you haven’t seen it hit the market yet, that’s because we had it under contract before we ever had the chance to even sign with a realtor. CRAZY TALK. In another plot twist that we can only perceive as yet another sign that this was meant to be, our friends Will and Helen mentioned to their current neighbors that we were moving and selling our house, and because they are best friends with our across-the-street neighbors, they had already been following our renovations in person and online. They hadn’t been planning on moving for awhile (they already live in the neighborhood, Crestwood North) but they came over to see the house and we talked about it and next thing we knew, they were making us an offer we couldn’t refuse. The perfect orchestration and timing of every seemingly-tiny detail of this process has not been lost on us, and we feel very, very thankful that it has all worked out better than we could have expected. We close on the house next month, and the sentimental side of me will be sad to say goodbye to 5th Terrace and all the memories it holds, but the outward-looking and restless side of me is excited for a whole new house’s worth of projects. :) We haven’t purchased another house in Knoxville yet, but we’ve got our eye on some possibilities and we’re grateful that my parents are letting us live with them until we get it all sorted out. I’m just trusting that this piece of puzzle will fall into place just as the rest of them have, even if it means waiting longer than we planned. But don’t you worry…. I will definitely share all the progress and details with you as they unfold.
I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point, since I already feel like I’ve over-shared my heart out. But I will end with this: Birmingham people, we love you and we’ll miss you but we’ll see you soon, promise. Knoxville people, we love you and we’ve missed you and we’re excited to see much more of you soon. People we’ve met in our adventures all over the place, and who have moved all over the place, we love you too. And we wish that we could bottle you all up and carry us with you wherever we go, but since we can’t, we’ll say thank you for the memories and we can’t wait to make more in one city or another. They say the only constant in life is change, so even though we want to cling tightly to everything and everyone we love, we realize now more than ever how impossible and fruitless that is. We can only listen and follow when we’re nudged in one direction or another and trust that the plan is more perfect than we can imagine. So far, that’s proven to be true, so we’ll see what the next 7 years hold. :)
“The greenest state in the land of the free // and the home of the Grand Ole Opry // is calling me back to my Smoky Mountain home.” -Dolly Parton