Sweeping our path on the wood floor as we make our way out of the house, the last remaining box under one arm, counterbalanced by random belongings and keys in the opposite hand. As we pull the door shut and lock it for the final time, our three-year stay has come to an end. Symbolic in a sense; the closing of one door at this particular location and the open road providing the path to the next. The paradox is fitting. A door’s representation hinges on which side we are standing. It functions the same way every encounter, always opening in a set direction, but our physical position deems its use as an entrance or an exit. 

Looking back, it was truly a blur. Like most things in life, time seemed to move slower when we focused on it. The experiences, the newness, the friendships; these are the things that made our move out East pass by with ease. I remember our first concert in the city – surrounded by an unfamiliar amount of concrete, strangers, sirens, and local (to us) brews. My initial reaction of regret faded in and out, harmonizing in a sense, with the whaling sounds of first responders. The un-comfort was slowly dulled by another midwest beer. It wasn’t long before the show started and Jack Garrat would set the stage for the opening act in our new home. I’ve always viewed life through song lyrics and this time was no exception. An undiscovered artist relayed a familiar message, in a new tune; surprise yourself.

For me, the ‘last’ always tend to overshadow the ‘first’. Usually, because the emotions feel heavier as you walk away- you’ve invested time, grown and expanded, and also got set in a routine. Even if you hadn’t realized it. Distance may make the heart grow fonder, but that 1,200-mile car ride back to Kansas City also made my appreciations run deeper. 

Somewhere through the mountains in Pennsylvania and the arch is St. Louis, my eagerness to get home took a back seat. Pun intended. “We’re going home for good”, I thought.

Moving’s always an adjustment. For us, it was cathartic in a sense because we decided to purge a majority of our belongings. Part of it was out of necessity because we had just acquired too much stuff over the years. The other part was because we rented the smallest pod possible and our bed took up a quarter of its square footage. In any case, we subscribed to the belief that less was more and for the most part, that would prove to be true.

We’ve been back for half a year already. Less belongings, more space, and still a box or two away from being fully settled. The truth is, personally, I left a lot more than old sneakers, yard tools, and my guitar at the donation center back East. Somewhere in between the search to find a new house, annoying (and assisting) my wife, with her job search, and saying goodbye to clients I’d spend the past two years with, my daily routine was collecting dust. 

Constant journaling, occasional reading, consistent meditation, and challenging workouts were nowhere to be found. And still aren’t. I could insert a motivational quote here, something about how great the bounce-back can be, but I’ll pass on that bite. Instead, I’ll leave it at this; in a sense, what I have is nothing. But ironically, that’s exactly what I need. Nothing (minimal exercise equipment, lack of daily balance, fading habits) is the starting point. The new door. And I know with this new unfamiliarity, more memories await. 

Written by Shawn Ortega.

“Speak and open up your mind/ It’s something you should do all the time.

Keep exploring, seek and find/ You know you might surprise yourself” – Jack Garratt


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