The Distance Between

It was a grand adventure, even before the truck broke down.

With our first anniversary approaching, my wife and I drove 984 miles from Chicago to Dallas, her in our car, me in a moving truck. The truck was mostly empty—just some hand-me-down furniture and wedding gifts—having had neither the time or money to accumulate much. We grew up in the midwest and nine months into our newlywed life, found ourselves exasperated by a particularly relentless Chicago winter. We decided there wasn't much reason to delay our desire for warmer weather, chose Dallas from a short list of options, and moved. That we had little money, no jobs waiting for us, and didn't know a single person in the state (and it's a really big state) didn't deter us in the slightest.

The moving truck succumbed somewhere in Missouri. We struggled to track down the rental company or a mechanic without cell phones or any guidance beyond Rand McNally. For a few hours, being a thousand miles away from friendly faces seemed like a poor idea.

The truck could not be repaired quickly, so the company was forced to send a replacement and then haphazardly switch our carefully packed possessions. We got a free night in a cheap hotel and crossed the border into our new state the next day, smiling at the sun-drenched horizon.

My wife found a job immediately, me a few weeks later. We enjoyed the apartment pool during the hot evenings and met the people who would surprise us a few years later by assembling a room full of baby furniture when our son surprised us by arriving three weeks early.

I suppose we were looking for independence when we moved so far from friends and family, the chance to alter a predictable storyline. I'm not sure I could do that again, but I'm grateful we had the chance and the gumption to take it.

Sometimes I try to imagine what our families thought when we told them. We must've seemed equally brave and out of our minds. How kind they were, though, despite the distance we were putting between us and them.

I laughed when I remembered that trip this week. Our son heads to college in a few days. He says he's had enough of the heat and wants to be where it's cool. The college is 1,926 miles away.