We've been in Cleveland now for about two months, and for the most part, all of the trade-offs and conditions that I anticipated have been true. What I did not anticipate is how intense a lot of the feelings have been around the transition.
The hardest thing has been the separation from our Seattle friends. I think I underestimated how hard that would be. My work friends were very much my guide to the Northwest, while the PEPS families were folks we shared the ultimate life change with, namely having a child. If that weren't enough, we also don't get to see Simon's cousins, as they continue to grow and develop. I'm finding this change very difficult.
Of course, I also miss the physical area, too. The mountains, the daily drive around Lake Sammamish, the evergreens, the playgrounds, Finaghty's, the Microsoft campus... these were all places that made me smile every day. It's funny to think about how frustrated all of those places made me when we first moved out there, and now I hate being away from it all. It doesn't help that this November, normally the wettest month of the year, they've had half the normal rainfall.
On the flip side, the positives I anticipated have more or less fallen into place. Financially, this makes so much more sense. The raise-by-pay-cut weirdness that comes with only one place to pay for is working like a charm, and we're debt free (except the house) and saving. I hate that we're way behind for people our age, but there is positive traction.
Having a house, as relatively modest as it is, has made a huge difference in our ability to make ourselves comfortable. There's a little more room, and we've been able to decorate to our tastes. It truly feels like a new place, because of all the new paint, lighting, furniture and such.
The job I got before moving turned out to be a joke, not what they sold me and a very poor fit (the sum of work after three weeks was FTP'ing some files around), but I knew there was some risk going in, and never truly stopped looking. The volume of work available is huge, and I think things are coming together in that respect. As you might imagine, I certainly had some second thoughts about leaving the relative comfort of Microsoft.
We're having a good time finding some of our old hang-outs. We got a zoo membership, are hitting our favorite restaurants, and of course, hit Cedar Point a couple of times before it closed. We're not making all of the re-connects with friends the way we hoped, but we're working on it little by little.
So in a lot of ways, things feel like a bit of a lateral move, at least in the short term. I can't honestly say that I'm more happy, just "as happy" for now. I'm OK with that. I feel like we're laying down a solid foundation, the way that most responsible people (that is, not me) would have ten years earlier, only without any significant sacrifice beyond having a suboptimal zip code. In five years or less, provided I can actually ditch this house, I think we'll have the kind of freedom to go anywhere.
I just wish the missing Seattle part was easier. I think that's going to take some time.