The Past 12 Months and Why We’re Moving Out of the City

Growing up in the suburbs of Short Pump I always dreamed about moving to the city when I got older. The few times we did venture into the city growing up I was taken back by the colors, the architecture, the liveliness inhabiting filled streets.

So when Peter and I got married, we decided that it was something we both wanted to try (well, more so me, but Peter lovingly agreed). We’ve been in the city for two years now, and though I have gotten to explore and dwell in some neat pockets of it, I can unashamedly say I am ready to make my exit.

I recognize the challenges we’ve encountered the past couple years have made it more difficult to immerse ourselves into the culture surrounding us. Perhaps we could have tried harder to make an effort to visit the weekend festivities Richmond offers her guests. I could have walked to more local coffee shops (I’m looking at you, Alchemy Coffee), I could have made more time to walk down the well loved Monument Avenue.

Yet I don’t feel guilt for not doing those things. Peter and I had to do what was necessary to try to thrive in a season that was about learning a new way to survive. And a lot of that involved being close to each other, and resting.

Even still, the city has worn on him and I. Kind of like a blanket that was so new and fluffy at first, but then it unravels with over use and comfort diminishes as scratchy threads wear thin.

These past 6–8 months of city dwelling I’ve really had to fight against hardness building up in me. Admittedly it won me over sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks followed by the hope in remembering “Only “x” amount of months until our lease is over.”

After Peter’s accident happened it was like I put on tons of defensive gear, ready for whatever the next hit might be (it felt like there were so many from every angle). And I think that’s when the anxiety began to creep in. Peter’s accident and 6 months of initial healing mixed with the many problems we had within our building made me put my imaginary boxing gloves on.

I have this vivid memory coming home one night after grocery shopping not long after Peter’s accident. It was a Friday night and Peter was at home, laying on the couch with his leg propped up and I had a car full of groceries. I mentally prepped myself that I would have to take about two trips with the groceries from our garage, up the stairs, up the elevator, down the hall, into our apartment. I was mentally ready for the extra dose of cardio. Then I pulled up to our building and a car was parked in front of the entrance to our garage.

Let me back up for a minute. A few weeks prior, I went to the leasing office in tears because I couldn’t find parking in the lot where all residents are supposed to have one parking space each, per our lease. This had happened more times than I could count at that point, and I was so. over. it. By the end, they had given me a clicker for access to the building’s garage for free (a $60/month value). I was so so happy leaving with my clicker and all my parking problems solved.

Now back to the night with a car full of groceries. Cue tears, lots of them. And anger. And self pity. And stress. I drove around for the next 5–10 minutes looking for a spot only to find 1 hour street parking blocks away, which I took so the thawing beef wouldn’t go bad. Then I moved the car an hour later after calling the non emergency police about ticketing that car, then towing it, since it was parked illegally and was a fire hazard since cars couldn’t get out of the garage. Anyway, thanks for following me on that rant. That instance was just a taste of the regular problems we’ve dealt with.

I look back on emails I’ve sent our leasing company with titles of “Roof Leaking Again!!”, “When Is Pest Control Coming???”, “Can’t Find Parking Again”, “Neighbors Screaming at 2AM”, “Our Water is Brown — What’s Going On?” and I begin to remember that this was not all in my head, that it has been hard and it’s time to leave.

Not just leave our building (p.s. don’t sign a lease for the Cornish Brewery Apartments, you’re welcome), but bid farewell to living in the city, too. Neither Peter or I regret our decision to live here; we’ve had defining moments that have struck us down but I know we have built up something stronger in our marriage and our friendship from it. My character has been challenged more than ever before, and to be honest, it needed to be. I needed to change, and Peter has patiently and kindly walked me through a lot of it.

I recognize that many people love living in the city, and I am SO glad you do! Please stay. Please live and experience the city life and love it till it hurts. But it’s just not for us. I’m not going to say “never again” because I’ve learned to hold my tongue when it comes to “nevers.” But for now we will cross the James and experience a new side of town, and we couldn’t be more at peace about that decision.

I’ll never forget how God sustained us through and through during some of the most difficult moments of city living. I know He’s led my soul with bountiful grace and unceasing kindness. I’m so grateful for Jesus and the friendship He offers, sticking beside me through my complaining and doubting things will get better or that prayers will ever be answered. He is peace personified and this life would amount to nothing without Him.

Right now in my spirit I really sense that Peter and I are moving into a more even place. The past couple of years have brought a lot of shaking and rebuilding (or more so building) a foundation in our marriage. We’ve still got foundation to build on and I know God will lead us in that, but inside I have a renewed hope about the future. I know life will not always be so hard, but I also know that seasons of even places and open spaces don’t last forever.

And they don’t need to. I know soon enough my fickle soul will get too self reliant and independent. Thinking I can do this life without God because things are going so well. I’ll thank Him, offer up the pearls of my life and be available. Yeah, I think I just want to be available for Him, no matter what the cost.

x o .

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