With my Big Black Boots and an Old Suitcase…

Ten years ago I had no job.

It was summer and I had finished up a great long-term subbing position at the beginning of June, but there were no substitute teaching positions during the summer months. I had yet to find a “real’ teaching job.

Ten years ago I had no relationship.

I had been dumped after a five-year relationship in the spring and I had been barely getting by on a wing and a prayer (also know as Doritos and booze) for months.

I was depressed, but I didn’t know it.

Then in July of 2003, after four months of sulking and one month of being unemployed, a friend from college emailed me that he was moving from Michigan to Santa Monica, California in August.  He had a place lined up, but would love a roommate if I wanted to come too.

I laughed at first. Yeah, right.

And then I looked around at my tiny house.  The one next-door to my grandparents that I was renting from them. The one where I ate cereal and Doritos as my only meals and some days didn’t get out of bed until 4pm.

The one I shared with my cat.

That spring all of my plans for the future gone right down the toilet.

I no longer had dreams of marrying my long-time boyfriend. I had sent out and stopped by a combination of over 100 schools looking for a teaching position and hadn’t heard from even one. I couldn’t live on $65 a day subbing (sporadically) for another school year.

Why should I stay in this tiny town? I asked myself.

I had been back from college for almost a year now; what was keeping me from packing up and moving away and trying something else?

It was so unlike me, but I went online and applied for about ten different teaching positions in and around the Santa Monica area. I also emailed my friend and told him if I could find a job offer, we might be in business.

And then I got three emails and a phone call from four of the districts I applied to in California. Three of those four wanted to hire me right there sight unseen.  No interview.  No practice lesson. In fact, they would fly me out there and help me move in.

With my big black boots and an old suitcase…
I do believe I’ll find myself a new place.*

I started to get excited.  As in call my parents and try to decide whether or not to take my cat with me across the country kind of excited.

I emailed all my friends and family and told them I was moving to California at some point.

I started thinking about how one moves across the country. Via moving trucks? On a plane? Yeah, I was not bringing the cat. He would die of the trauma.

We can live beside the ocean,
leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
watch the world die.

My friend, Cortney, emailed me to tell me good luck and that he thought it was a cool idea, but that truthfully he would miss me an awful lot. He was the only person (other than my mom) to convey such a feeling. That I would be missed if I left.

I remember thinking he was sweet and that I would surely miss him too. I mean, he was such a great friend.

Less than a month later, this happened.

And a week after that, my current school district called me for an interview…and I got the job.

A couple weeks after that Cortney was not my friend anymore, he was my boyfriend.

I didn’t move, obviously. I decided to take the job in my current school district (where I had done my student teaching and several long-term substitute positions).  I decided to take the plunge on Cortney.

It’s been ten years since I made that decision.  The decision to stay in the tiny small town I always said I would leave.

When I went to college, I had determined that I would meet a guy from somewhere and go to that somewhere.  I was not going to follow the pattern of marrying a guy from my high school and having his babies and living my whole life in this hick town.

Until I did.

Not because I didn’t try to NOT end up this way.  But because this is the way I was supposed to end up.

It’s been ten years and I rarely think about the chance I had to “get away” from this life.  Probably because I never wish this life away. Even when it sucks, I never wish I was somewhere else with a different guy with different (or no) kids.

I never don’t want this life.

Sometimes I don’t think I am doing a good job at this life I was gifted, but I never ever wish it away.

Not for all the white sands on a Santa Monica beach.

*Lyrics from “Santa Monica” by Everclear

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Sounds like you followed your dreams after all.

  2. Sometimes, we don’t need to go far to find what we need in life.
    Sometimes, it’s right there in front of you.
    I’m glad you are where you’re supposed to be, with the people you’re supposed to love.

  3. Oh Kate! That was just beautiful. Life is tricky…huh?! We just never know what it has planned for us even if we think we know. What a risk you were willing to take to move out to Cali. I don’t think I could have ever been that brave. Sometime though when we go big that’s when other things start to happen for us. What a lovely story and so very well written. I really enjoyed this little piece of how you and Cortney came to be!

  4. Isn’t it funny how a friend becomes so much more. I have been married to someone who was my friend for over 10 years before he became so much more. Of course both of us went through horrible first marriages to get to being us and I truly believe it had to happen that way.

    • Your story sounds much like mine. My husband and I have been married for 12 years, but have been good friends for over 24 years (many of those years married to other people). We talk about how we needed things to happen this way for everything to be so “perfect” now.

  5. You can take risks without dropping everything and moving somewhere. I wrote about my similar predicament in December 2007.

    I stood in the san diego airport with a great job offer for the short -term – two years worth of work in riverside county California. It would mean being a parttime dad to my now almost 10-year-old (then 4 year old) daughter but away from the things about where I was from that I hated and haunted me in 2007. I declined the job. It just didn’t feel right even with December san diego warmth shining on me through the airport atrium.

    4 months later I met Deana and my other two daughters. Now, I have a fuller life and I would’ve missed it by being rash or over emotional or just now all clear instead of everclear…

    I am still living with your ghost, lonely and dreaming of the west coast (not really)

  6. I love this, Katie. Love. I didn’t know your story and so I thought maybe you did make the move and met C there. But hey, lookie at this. You didn’t have to. 😉

  7. I love this story! Sometimes I really am blown away by how fate and God work bringing people together, especially when it’s someone you’ve known practically your whole life.

  8. While I would love visiting you in California, I would be missing you in the most devastating way.

  9. I ended up moving 100s of miles away from my hometown, with some guy I met in college, the day after we got married. I never planned to move away, never imagined I would. But once I got married, all I wanted was to be with him. It worked out for us, and like you, I think this was how it was supposed to be. Congrats on your 10 years together. Me and mine celebrated our 27th anniversary in June.

  10. I love love stories.

  11. Sigh. So funny how our lives turned out. I am sure my husband never expected to end up on the east coast of Canada and STAY here (he’s a Toronto-boy). On the other hand, I expected to always return to where I grew up and, I haven’t (and probably never will… although we are only a province away). We’re both in this place that we ended up in together and we are making our home and our lives and our community be here. Sometimes I am nostalgic. Sometimes I have to stop him from wanting to take me further away. But for now, we are definitely happy where we are. Especially now. 🙂

  12. As always, beautifully written Kate! I did make the move from my hick town in Washington State to California. Your story gave me pause to think of how it might have been different if I’d have committed to the hometown boyfriend, etc. Holy Cripes, it’s not a pretty thought. But I also managed to eventually talk some pretty important people (my mom) into making the trek as well. And I can’t imagine my life any differently.

    If I could transport my life (husband, children, neighbors, and work that I have now) to my little hometown, I’d be happy (though I do LOVE where I live). So it’s not about place for me (well maybe a little) — no more so than it is for you.

  13. Fate, baby. I believe in it. And you clearly made the right choice. (What? Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive!)

  14. I can really relate to this. I always swore I was going to leave my small town behind, that I wouldn’t stay in South Jersey and yet here I am married to someone from high school raising my family 20 miles from that same small town. I was supposed to transfer to a college in Florida many years ago, I never did and I can’t help but think that life would have been so different but not better.

  15. I have always loved the John Lennon quote “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” and I think, that’s so true. I never in a million years thought I would end up living in Florida, an American citizen, married to a man from New York and have 3 awesome kids… no, I did think I would always live in my little “hick” village in Germany. I was okay with it, I was content but sometimes things happen and they change everything! Sometimes, the way things happen is the way they are meant to be…

  16. I freaking love this! Such a great love/life story and so beautifully written. Kinda inspires me to write our story…

  17. Isn’t it wild how things turn out sometimes, completely differently than you expected and completely perfect for you?

  18. Damn if this success-slash-love story doesn’t make me all tingly and teary. *sniff*

  19. aw, I understand this completely. At a point I wanted to move away and start something new and not be a louisvillian my whole entire life. but looky at me now. raising my brood in my hometown. and LOVING it. We got back from vacay last night and as we were driving back through our state I said outloud GOD I love this state. IT feels so good to be home. And I really meant it. I can’t get away from this place. xxo