Finding Out

On Wednesday afternoon, while sitting in a meeting for the historic preservation commission, I received a text message from Jake. 

"UCLA said yes!" He continued on with information about his funding package, and let me know that he'd also been nominated for a fellowship. 

He decided to give musicology PhD programs one last go at the end of summer. He applied to eight schools. And then we waited. And waited and waited and waited. He received an invitation to interview at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. While being there, he realized the program wasn't a great match. 

A few weeks later, he received an invitation to interview at UCLA. From the moment he arrived in Los Angeles, well, even in his interaction with the department in arranging his travel details, there was a certain level of excitement in Jake that I know exists in him, but rarely breaks the surface. Anyone who knows Jake knows that he's super low key and mellow. During his time in LA, he was sending me pictures of random trees, pictures of food, he even sent a selfie. And every time I talked to him, he had something new and great to say about the program and UCLA as a whole. It was a match made in heaven. We knew that if got accepted there, he would accept the offer. He came home. And then we had to wait some more. But luckily not long. 

My life changed in a text message. It's still so new. I've sent many emails and messages to people and potential schools for my girls since finding out. Almost all change is bittersweet. Our girls parent-teacher conferences were today. At the end of Magnolia's, after spending a wonderful several minutes listening to how she's blossomed in the classroom, we told her teacher that we were moving. I didn't expect the rush of emotion that came. Saying it makes it real. My eyes welled up with tears, but miraculously none of them came out. 

I've been working hard at thinking "short-term/long-term." We live in a sweet little home in a wonderful neighborhood, and our girls go to a dream school. These are important things that are a big part of our world, but in the grand scheme of things, they are "short-term." Jake has a great opportunity to advance his education and open up career opportunities that will have a huge impact on our "long-term," it will just require us to leave some things we really love. 

Here's where the tears start gushing - I will have to leave Dot. I've always felt a deep connection to place, but it's always been tied a location - the base of the Superstition Mountains, the black soil in Eagar Arizona, floating on my back in the ocean... I feel the same connection to Dot. I know she's just wood and brick and mortar and plaster, etc., but I want some part of her to always be tied to me too. I want to drive by in 20 years and see the trees we planted creating a canopy to walk under. As I was lying in bed this morning, I decided to spend the rest of my time living in Dot in a way that will make it okay to leave her. I feel like I've entered into a kind of mourning stage, but I want the mourning to be over when I say goodbye to this home and move on to my next. Oh, Dot, how I love you so.

When I was young and growing up in Arizona, I was always certain that I was really supposed to be living in California near the Pacific Ocean. When I was older, a junior in high school, I went on a trip with my choir to Los Angeles. We went to the normal places: Disneyland, Venice Beach, the Walk of Fame. They were all fun, but the thing I enjoyed most was going to UCLA. We were there to do a master class with one of the choir directors, but we walked around campus for a bit after we were finished. I stopped and had a friend take a picture of me in front of Royce Hall. 

After I developed the photos, I found the one of me at UCLA, and added it to the collage I'd been making on my closet doors. It was full of pictures of friends and words. Above the photo of me at UCLA, I wrote "Dream." I've always been a dreamer, and perhaps this move for this school, to this new city, will be the culmination of some sort of dream of mine, maybe even the start of a new one. 

I don't know where my family will be living, or where my girls will be in school, but I want to practice the art of letting go. Of not worrying and letting life play out. Of having faith that there really is divine course for my life. Because I believe that one exists for everyone else. I'm excited for the possibilities - for this change, even if I'm sad to be leaving some things (Dot is way up there, but there are some people who I can't even think about leaving without completely breaking down). I will try my best not to randomly burst into tears for the next few months. 
[You'll have to imagine the silver scroll-y "Dream" written above it.]


  1. I'm sad for us but so happy for you. Congratulations Jake! This will be a great new adventure for your family.

  2. I echo Leslie's sentiment. I'm so excited for you guys and your new adventures! Congrats Jake!! I can't wait to hear all about it and read about all of the new experiences you have. You will be missed, dear friend.

  3. Change is always bittersweet- I'm still adjusting to our major move months ago. What an exciting thing for your family- no matter where you guys go you will thrive and love it, because of who you are. I'm so sad that our distance will be further from each other- I'm not kidding when I say Baylee asks when Cora and Magnolia can come visit. But, I have no doubt great things are in store for the Johnson family!!



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