I buy my cigarettes from Kum & Go now. It’s a gas station/convenience store just a couple minutes from my new three bedroom, two bath home. It’s located next to a drive-thru Subway (which I didn’t even know existed) and up the road from Fred’s Discount Store and Bill’s Cost Plus Market. It’s the same gas station I stood outside of in early October to call my dad and tell him, “We’re moving to Arkansas.” Back then, all I knew was I was somewhere in the town of Jonesboro only a couple blocks from where Chef would eventually work.
What’s meant to be, will be. My motto for life. I look back on how things turned out the way they did, the pieces falling into place so elegantly to create the perfect world for the two of us. It was around May or so that I started doing transcription work for a woman who ended up being the best boss someone could ask for. She pays better than my other transcription work (although I still do both.) But I had just recently started working for a new salon at the time. I was to receive a $1,000 bonus after three months of work.
As I approached the three month mark, I told my boss I would have to leave. I explained that I could not in good faith stay longer and take the bonus when I knew that I’d probably leave within a month anyway.
I left there in late August, my last day being the 30th. She still gave me the bonus.
It was nearing my last day when one nigiht I picked up Chef from work. He hopped in the car and asked me, “How do you feel about Tennessee?”
I was confused. “Like… to visit? To live?”
“To live,” he said.
“Sure. Why not?”
And it began.
He’d been receiving notifications from an old company he worked for, for months. He rarely opened them, but something was different about that night. Maybe he sensed it, or maybe he just had a bad day and was tired of working six days a week, 12 hours a day, and yet we were still struggling.
He applied. For a couple weeks, we heard nothing, and then one day, a text asking him to interview. He did a phone interview, an online interview, and then he got a call. The regional manager had seen his online interview and asked if he’d be interested in Jonesboro, only an hour or so from the Memphis location he applied for.
It was an enthusiastic yes.
We were flown out in the first week of October and put up in a local hotel. It was a bit of a whirlwind for me. I’d rarely — and by rarely, I mean maybe twice in my life — been out of the tri-state area. I’ve never been on an airplane. I’d never been in a different time zone. People were asking where “ya’ll” were from and wondering why us city folk were looking to move to the south.
Every time we drove in our rental car, the GPS was on. Every street looked the same. A four lane highway with a dividing lane for turns. No jug-handles anywhere. No Dunkin Donuts. No Shop Rite. No 7-11 or Wawa. No taylor ham.
We returned home October 5th and we moved October 23rd. During this time, there was a lot of packing, a lot of cleaning, a lot of phone calls, a lot of last minute haircuts for old clients. Also, there was a lot of thinking about Mom. Maybe it was because I was forced to finally decide what I wanted to keep of hers and what I wanted to “re-home.” Going through her things stirred up a lot of memories. It brought out a lot of tears.
It brought up an interesting thought as well: that I would never have been so willing to make this move if Mom were still alive. Moving out of New Jersey was a dream of mine. For years I’d planned on eventually doing it. But I never wanted to do it with Mom around. Of course, that’s not to say that I necessarily WANTED to leave Dad or my sister or brother or my friends — but I knew they’d be fine. Mom, on the other hand, I hated the thought of being too far. What if she needed me? What if she ended up in the hospital again? What if no one could get a hold of her and I was the only one who could go check on her because Dad was working, brother lived too far, and sister couldn’t drive at night?
There were so many what-ifs. But somehow, it all fell into place. Another example, I like to think, of Mom looking out for me. I begged for a sign leading up to the move that she approved of what we were doing, that she was supporting our decision. But maybe now that I think about it, maybe the sign was that it happened at all. Maybe all along the sign has been staring me in the face.
Either way, I’m sitting on my brand new couch with my pup next to me, watching Bob Ross paint a winter scene. In a few minutes I’ll take a shower, then do some work, then do a little writing. And I will continue to try thriving in my new world with my great husband as we start this new chapter of our life together.