We Moved to Another State for a “Fresh Start.” Here’s What That Means to Me

published Jun 29, 2022
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About a year and a half ago, deep into Covid isolation and the reassessing of, well, everything, my husband and I realized with surprisingly sudden and surprisingly deep conviction that we needed to move

We’d had zero thought of uprooting and in fact had recently completed a major addition on our house. (It was finished a mere seven months before COVID-19 hit and we were so incredibly grateful for the extra space during our kids’ virtual school while we worked at home.) 

But some pretty heavy things had happened in our personal environment in the past few years and they’d blown up to the point where they’d not only wounded us deeply, but we also realized they weren’t going to get better. In short, despite the things we did have and love where we were living (a beautiful house, close friends, wonderful schools, and the whole network and community we’d built over the previous decade), we felt suffocated. 

It wasn’t easy to consider starting over somewhere else, and in fact, it took me many months and many, many tears to come to grips with the decision that I knew was best for our entire family. And it wasn’t lost on me that we were fortunate to be in a position to even be able to contemplate a move: My husband and I both work remotely (and had for years pre-pandemic), we had the savings to be able to pay for a move, and we had enough equity in our home that we could afford to sell and buy, even in a wild real estate market

As things began to fall into place and I got to a better place, it became clearer that moving wasn’t only about going somewhere where we didn’t have to gasp for air, it was an opportunity to shed so much of the baggage we’d accumulated — physical and otherwise. We had the chance to shape a whole new life. We could start fresh. 

This is what we told people when they asked why we were moving: “We need a fresh start.” Kids responded with furrowed brows, but every adult we spoke the phrase to nodded in recognition and most said something to the effect of “good for you.” 

Through months of offering this answer, and months of shedding, a fresh start has come to mean so much more than I initially thought. The phrase has become rich and full of glittering possibility. Here are a few things that a fresh start means to me. 

Leaving behind what’s no longer wanted. 

This can take so many forms. Moving has opened up a unique opportunity to leave behind extra physical objects that have weighed us down, and this has happened at more than one point in the moving process. 

Of course we didn’t want to pay to move things we didn’t want or need, so we decluttered as we were packing. Then, another purge happened as we began setting up our new spaces. We found some things that made the first cut didn’t turn out to be things we wanted to give space to in our new home’s clean-slate setup. For example, I got rid of so many more bags of clothes and duplicate sheets and towels as I unpacked. 

Moving has also made it possible to leave behind relationships that no longer serve us, and experiences that we want to leave in the past. The people who are meant to be in your life no matter where you live always will be. I’ve found this to be true in the past and I believe it holds true in this move too, no matter how painful it was to say “see you later” to friends who’d been part of our daily lives. I know that the nature of these relationships will change; carpooling with friends may turn into special once-a-year camping trips. But real bonds aren’t broken by space or time. The relationships that weren’t great? Not much fun to talk about, but moving allows them to gracefully, mercifully fall away. 

While moving doesn’t solve inner troubles or create inward healing in and of itself, putting some distance between you and where painful experiences occurred can be beneficial. Of course, you have to do the work to heal your heart, but not being in a place that reminds you of past hurts can help you along that path. Leaving behind bad experiences can be a symbolic part of moving to a new place. It has been for us. 

Moving away from relationships and experiences is heavy, but even without these bigger issues, relocating gives you a chance to drop undesirable patterns in your family or home life that have become well-worn ruts, and to change old habits that you find challenging to snap out of. The move is a threshold between the old and the new in this aspect as well, and we’re doing everything we can to leave the old at the door. 

Credit: Lordn/Shutterstock.com

Keeping only what we choose and making room for the new. 

Moving has a way of making what’s really important bubble to the surface. Having shed so many physical items, what you bring with you to your new life is so much more a reflection of who you are now. A fresh start means a new beginning surrounded by (with any luck and through lots of hard work) only the things you truly need and genuinely love. 

The change gives you everything a thorough decluttering session does: more space, time, and energy. In addition, no longer bogged down by things in your “old life,” you’re free to pursue and actively build the life you envision. For instance, we left behind all the baby gear that sat unused in our attic (we’re out of that stage for good), but we brought all our bikes and are happy to have room for, eventually, a new kayak or two.

I’ve also taken the opportunity to replace things on a smaller scale. I tossed old toilet brushes, for instance, and picked up new ones when we got to our new house. I also replaced our old and very dirty step stools with black ones that won’t show dirt and broken bathroom trash cans with new ones. We didn’t want to pay to move things that weren’t worth it to bring into our new life, and leaving behind little things like these opened up a chance to start fresh, too. 

Obviously the concept of starting over is even more powerful when it comes to things that aren’t physical. I’m trying to take full advantage of the power of new surroundings when it comes to forming new habits. For one, I’ve leveraged this “new life” energy to finally start an exercise program I love. 

Going deeper, whatever experiences we’re leaving behind, what they’ve taught us and how they’ve caused us to grow stays with us and, in our case, has given us a focused vision for how we want to live this next phase of our lives. We brought our dreams to our new home, bright-eyed with hope that they’re within reach. 

The big picture of what a fresh start means to me is letting go of the old and welcoming the new, whether it’s drawer organization systems or how we want to conduct our family and live our lives. 

We’ve been here for three weeks and already the effects are starting to glint in the light. My husband and I are happier and more relaxed and, for sure, this impacts our kids. I hear new laughs from them and their hearts are softer. I think we’ve exhaled and I know we can finally breathe.