Family, Featured

Following your Dreams, Part I

***This “Following Your Dreams” series documents our families move to Florida so that Aaron could follow his dream of becoming a computer animator.  Although it isn’t typical of posts on Forty Cakes, I feel it is important to get this down on paper the computer screen so that we don’t forget how hard/great this experience has been.   So, enjoy it if you wanna but feel free to skip on over it if you don’t care.  It won’t hurt my feelings. *****

About three and half years ago,  Aaron and I were talking about the “future” and we both said that we wanted to go back to school.  I wanted to go to law school and he wanted to go to specialized art school to study computer animation.  At the time, we were living in Hawaii with the two kids, a dog and two cats.  I applied to the University of Hawaii and he applied to the best program in the country for his art–Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida!

Unfortunately, and fortunately, we both got accepted to our schools of choice but had to make a decision.  Since I had just finished grad school, we decided that we would support his dream.  We started to think about moving to Florida.

For me, Florida was a state that was completely undesirable.  I remember specifically saying to someone once, “Florida is a state I never want to even visit.”  I started to talk with people about Florida and it seemed that everyone had horrible things to say about it.  I was getting really nervous but wanted to be supportive.

One of the first things on our list was to figure out how I could move my job to Florida.  And, it turned out that it couldn’t have been any easier.  I went to talk to my boss and the conversation went something like this:

Me:  “Um, my husband wants to move to Florida to go to some more school.”

Boss: “Well, the head honcho from the Florida office will be here tomorrow.  I’ll send him down to talk to you.”

The next day, the head honcho from the Florida office showed up in my office and basically said, ” When do you want to come?  Talk to my people about getting the paperwork started.”

And, that was that.

This discussion in April 2008 and we  began putting together a plan for moving to Florida in July 2008–just in time for my sister’s wedding in Florida.

I’m sure you can imagine those three months were a  whirlwind of getting our house ready to rent, finding schools for the kids in Florida, finding a temporary rental home, trying to figure out the area from afar, finalizing work projects in Hawaii, saying good-bye to friends, selling cars, shipping cars, figuring out how to ship animals from Hawaii to Florida in the summer (not an easy or cheap task), and trying to retain some sense of normalcy to our life  so they kids wouldn’t feel our stress.

Last night, as I was falling asleep, the first moments we spent at our temporary rental home were re-playing in my mind.  I remember walking into the house, exhausted from 24 hours of flying with a mixture of relief, regret, and excitement.  What were we doing?  Moving across the world from everything we knew, away from any family, with two kids, three pets and basically no idea if we were making the right decision or the worst decisions of our lives.

It turns out the decision was spot-on.  Sure, it has been a great challenge to be away from family but we have made some great friends.  We have also embraced Florida and vowed to see as much of it as we can, since we don’t know how long we will stay here.  We have had some amazing adventures and continue to do so.  We have seen the kids grow and blossom into Florida kids with Hawaii roots or Hawaii kids with Florida roots.

And, Aaron’s schooling has been one of the toughest things he has ever done in his life (more on that in a future post) and one of the hardest things I have ever had to witness/support/be a part of.

Now, almost four years later, we have lost one of our cats (RIP Kitty Cat), but acquired a new cat and a new dog.  We have bought a house and a car, traveled all over the mainland and back to Hawaii twice, met some great friends, explored Florida, and have been to Disneyworld too many times to count. Aaron has learned the surf secrets of the Gulf of Mexico and has collected thousands of fossils-not to mention the enormous feats he has accomplished at school.  Rosie almost has her back-hand-spring and can read!  The Bean can swim the butterfly and is almost finished with the Harry Potter series.  I have started teaching undergraduates, writing for a local paper, WRITING THIS BLOG, ran two marathons, and have learned to cook.

Aaron will be done with school soon and we don’t know what will happen next.  Where will he get a job?  Will I finally go to law school? Should we move back to Hawaii?  Should we/he start our own business?  Will the kids adjust to moving again?  Should we just stay here?

If I have learned one thing from this ordeal, it is that no matter the situation—I need to just relax and trust that it will all work out.

Stay Tuned for the next segment in this little story.