I have a few friends who knit and blog and we've decided to embark on a blog project that has nothing to do with knitting. We're going to take turns coming up with a topic every Thursday and we each have to blog about it by the end of that day and post links to each other's blogs so that people can see our different perspectives on the same topic.
Here are the other blogs:
Froggie Knits Like Crazy
This week's topic comes from Froggie:
I've been hearing a lot lately that G-d has a plan for everyone's life and that you just have to trust that though what you are going through today is not great it will get you to where you should be going. Write about a time that seemed like it was leading nowhere, but took you to your next destination in life.
I had been living in the Chicago suburbs for over 30 years (except when I was living downstate for college), when all of that changed on our 3 year anniversary. My husband called me to tell me that he got a job in New Jersey and that we'd have a month to move there. We had thought about moving to that area to live closer to his family, but I also thought we'd have more time to plan for it. I wasn't clamoring to move there and told my husband that the only way I'd do it is if he found a way to get us there. And so he did. Then we had to sell our townhouse (which was successful and probably wouldn't have been that way when the real estate market had trouble a little while later) and find a place to live in NJ. I found a shul in northern NJ that was Modern Orthodox and had a ton of young families. And they were even renting out a house next door to prospective members. All things seemed to fit into place in that respect. It was very hard for me to move away from family and friends and I appreciate the support they gave me when all tears were shed and everything else was said and done. I'm thankful that most of them haven't de-invested in our friendship and I enjoy seeing them when we visit Chicago (and would love to have them visit us here too).
And then came the big move....
When we first got there, I had this impending feeling of dread just from walking around the downtown suburban area. However, I was determined to stick it out and make the best of things. Our first Shabbos there was hectic, but I made the effort to meet new people, despite the crowdedness from the Bar Mitzvah going on and my older son having a series of tantrums. I even made a new friend that day and we connected up a week or so later. Our kids were very close in age and adored each other. That was a bright spot in an otherwise stressful move.
To sum things up from that point on, we were driven by various factors to realize that where we were trying to establish ourselves into a community was not where we were meant to be for the long term. It started with a new shul president taking over and trying to push us out of our lease before we even had a new place to move into. It was a catalyst that helped us realize where we fit in (or didn't fit in) to the community. Thankfully, we had some nice friends who were very supportive. There were also issues with the job that helped my husband get us out there in the first place and then the second job he got afterward. It took him only a month to find the job he'd stay at for almost 2 years though. This job was definitely part of Hashem's grand plan.... In the meantime, I had a terrible time finding a job and didn't even know where I fit in to the career world at that point. I thought I had landed one job but then it was taken back when they realized I was Shomer Shabbos/Yom Tov. And while we had made some great friends, schedules were conflicting often and we didn't get to spend as much time with them as we'd like. We did have a playgroup going on for a while, but the play dates became less frequent after my younger son was born. There were also times when we felt invisible altogether. Throughout all this, we decided to check out different Modern Orthodox communities throughout the northern NJ area to see if there was any area that might be a better fit for us.
In the meantime, I started a new job in February 2008 and my younger son was born a month later. The following month, some friends of ours from shul moved next door to us. As a result, we became much closer with them. We settled into a routine, going to our shul for the most part and still shul shopping on the side every now and then. We gave up shopping after our older son turned 3 in September and decided to wait until the new year.
In November 2008, everything changed for us, in a good way. My husband had a work conference in Silver Spring, MD. It was close to DC, so the boys and I tagged along and got to do some sightseeing and visit old friends I hadn't seen in a long time. The moment we stepped out of the Metro and into the capitol, I fell in love. I couldn't get over how perfect DC felt. We were living close to NYC at the time and my husband was working in the city, so he definitely got a different feel from DC in comparison. That week, we started talking about checking out communities in the DC area. My husband's brother pointed us to Silver Spring and his chavrusa had a friend who used to live there and connected us to someone in a Modern Orthodox community.
A year ago (as of this weekend), we spent our first Shabbos in Silver Spring and attended the Bar Mitzvah of a boy with Down Syndrome. The whole experience was incredible (the Bar Mitzvah itself, the friendliness of everyone at shul, the hospitality of people in the community, etc.). We decided to visit again in the spring to make sure this was what we wanted. After an even more incredible weekend of meeting people and getting a feel for the community, we were sold. A few weeks later, we put a contract on a house and here we are now.
The hardest people to move away from this time were my mother-in-law, our friends (or the people we actually stayed close with throughout the entire 2 years in NJ...especially our next door neighbors), my bosses and my older son's school. We didn't feel bad about leaving the shul as that was our intention for a while anyway. A few weeks after we put the contract on the house, we found out that the Rabbi from our shul in NJ was moving away too. That helped us realize even more that our decision was a good one (not that we didn't know it already). The other affirmation of our decision came from my older son's teacher in NJ. She told us that the county we were moving to was the best place for people with hearing loss. (We also were told that the ENT who performed his implant surgery yesterday is one of the best in the entire country.)
I've mentioned in other blogs how much I love living here. I could reiterate it over and over again. We connected with a family whose son also has hearing loss (and has already been through the cochlear implant process) and they offered to bring us pizza after our older son's CI surgery this week. That is just a small highlight of how great people are in this community. We have fabulous neighbors who all came together last week during the blizzard (and friends who decided to have a pot luck lunch when I hurt my eye and couldn't get a Shabbos meal together like I had planned). I am actually disappointed when I can't make it to shul for weather (or lack of eruv) reasons. We have family nearby in Baltimore, as well as cousins in Virginia. We also have friends nearby who don't live in our neighborhood but are close enough to get together with at other times. This move has definitely enhanced our social life. :) (A huge change from me crying every night over having a hard time fitting into our community in NJ...which I felt better about once we became closer with our next door neighbors.)
Overall, if we hadn't moved to NJ in the first place, we wouldn't have been able to establish ourselves as Modern Orthodox and my husband wouldn't have had the job that sent us to DC in the first place. I feel this was all in Hashem's plan. That as rough and shaky as things were for us at times in NJ, we found where we were meant to be all along...in MD. We still miss family and friends who live far away, but we know they are happy that we're happy in our new home and community. We hope everyone can come visit us, and we still wouldn't mind having our family and friends move even closer. I'm sure if that is meant to be, it will happen when the time is right, as well. ;)