Call the old rock group The Clash clairvoyant or prescient, but 35 years ago they sang the very question that tormented me since late last summer: Should I stay or should I go?
The context of the question for the rockers was love; for me it was relocation. And the final answer for me: stay in Charlotte. My roots had worked themselves deep into the red clay soil after nearly 11 years.
All the agonizing, yo-yoing and back-and-forth is done. Ellen and Reid were first told in phone calls. Last week’s letter expanded on a thought process behind what was by far the toughest decision I’ve had to make in more than a decade. I will disappoint some people but make a few others happy. Still, a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
February 20, 2017
Ellen/Reid: Last week was one I’ve worried about for the last few months. Yes, I’d gone back and forth and back and forth. It looked as if I wasn’t capable of making a decision – and that’s right. I wasn’t. That’s not how it appeared. It’s how it was. There’s nothing in recent memory in my nearly 11 years here that applied such a tight mental tourniquet. There there was no clear-cut answer, no internal directive that firmly, and with finality, declared ‘Here is what you should do.’ Every day was consumed, in part, with what to do. Partial credit has to go to your mom since I sought out her advice. We went back and forth about it, not at great length, but in her usual sense of clarity she was able to define the issues and ultimately cut to the chase: ‘Why move?’ That really helped. Locally I talked with my good friends Sondra and Andrea and their distilled counsel – Do what makes you happy – figured into the decision, too. The thing that is troubling is the near-continual public pronouncements about ‘I’m moving’ and now I wear the badge of a turncoat. I do wonder what people think or will think.
So here I’ll stay. The snail’s pace of the house sale figured into this, too. If it had sold immediately in October, as I assumed it would, then I would’ve been up to Des Moines in a flash and that would have been that. But the longer the sale took, the longer it plodded along, the more the doubts came into question.
I wondered about reinventing the wheel in all respects; housing, social life, golf, etc. It would have been almost exactly what happened when I moved to Charlotte although not quite as dire. Could I have been happy to lean on Val and Bob, Jane and Dave, Cheryl and Dave and Holly and Dana? Absolutely. But when I stepped back from that ledge I couldn’t get away from the fact that Charlotte feels like, and has felt like, home. Sure, I can get along anywhere I live, but the reinvention part was troubling. The ocean did come into play. I simply love toting Miss Emma to the salt water. Yeah, the weather here is glorious but that was no overriding factor.
I really appreciate how you guys took it. Ellen, I truly sweated over breaking the news to you. I had no idea how you’d take it other than that you might have a very strong opinion. Reid, I knew you’d defer to the same advice as Sondra and Andrea. Part of the final answer is a commitment to get to Chicago and St. Paul more regularly. That feels right. I do want to be part of Emma and Georgia’s lives and that can, and will, happen. I worried, too, about how friends in Des Moines would receive the decision. My first call was to Dave H. He instantly endorsed staying put. So did Bob F. The calls to good friends were a great salve. A heavy self-imposed weight was lifted off my shoulders. It doesn’t mean I’ll never make it up there; it just won’t be now.
It really was one hell of a week. News about surgery should come through this week although it’s murky if it will delay this week’s trip to Minnesota. Hopefully not. I’m perturbed that the referral to the surgeon has yet to come through. (It damn well better not delay my trip to Florida the first week in March to see Bob and the two Dave’s.) Then I smashed into a golden lab at 74 MPH on I-26 on the way to Charleston. There was no chance to avoid the poor dog. He/she rumpled the front quarter panel but that damage has already been repaired. Miss Emma didn’t make the trip since my doctor advised not to lift anything that would apply strain so I opted to rent a boat in Charleston. But that fell through, too, when Charleston Outdoor Adventures cautioned me that the Coast Guard was about to issue a small craft advisory for 30-45 knot winds and pouring rain. So I turned tail and was home by 12:30 p.m. One final note, Reid: your mom and I are excited to visit Chicago the week of April 10. We’ve needed to visit together and now that will finally come to pass.