My Life is About to Change
Trust me. I was as surprised as anyone.
Through my own grit and perseverance, I’d secured a position at PriceWaterhouse in Charlotte. (That wasn’t what surprised me.)
Having a master’s degree from the #1 accounting program in the country gets you the interview, but it doesn’t necessarily secure the job.
For years I wanted to experience real seasons (but stay below the Mason-Dixon line) and move to a bigger city than my hometown.
After graduating from UT, I briefly moved back to Tallahassee while I studied for the CPA exam and interviewed in Raleigh and Charlotte.
I decided the opportunity to work for PriceWaterhouse was the more prestigious gig over the second-tier firm in Raleigh.
I got the job on my own, knew virtually no one, and proved to myself definitively that I could start fresh all on my own.
I would give myself a year in Charlotte and decide what I wanted to do at the end of the year.
And that’s where the surprise came in.
At the end of my year, I realized I missed Austin!
I contacted a dear friend of mine from grad school who worked at Arthur Andersen in Houston. She enthusiastically suggested I interview with the tax group there.
Sure enough, I got the job (with moving expenses covered and a 20% raise)!
I moved across the Mississippi River once again, figuring Houston was closer to Austin than Charlotte was.
I ended up in Houston for 5 1/2 years, where I met my now ex-husband.
We finally moved to Austin in late spring 2003.
At that time Austin was still pretty low-key. Downtown was super quiet at night. And it was much smaller than Houston with access to more nature.
No one predicted in 2003 how dramatically Austin would be altered after the 2008 crash.
Which includes rising property taxes, traffic woes, and general unfriendliness that wasn’t here before.
I’ve been in Austin for almost 16 years now. Half of my life has been spent in Texas.
But I miss my home — it’s broader than missing Tallahassee. I miss my true home, the Deep South.
I miss the friendliness. I miss being seen. I miss the feel of the air and the land. The abundance of azaleas, camellias, and Spanish moss.
Now I’m the first to admit that Atlanta and some of the other really big Southern cities are hectic and less-than-friendly.
But the idea of moving back to the Deep South has been on my mind for a while now.
I had assumed I might move when my son graduated high school.
But in addition to the changes in Austin (and some changes to my financial situation), I have needed to re-evaluate what type of high school environment might be best for my second-semester 8th grader.
(We love his current school, but it only goes through 8th grade. Otherwise, he would have stayed there.)
My followers and friends know that I’m protective of my son, so I will not be sharing the complex set of reasons why our high school search has been more complicated than most families’ searches.
I will say that this decision was heavily researched, flipped on its head, prayed extensively about, and looked at from every possible angle.
There are huge cons and huge pluses for whatever decision I make.*
The stakes are big here.
Again, I am not going to go any further into the complexities of our situation, but the stakes are very, very high here.
I wish we were a normal family.
We are not.
I say all of this so that no one tosses out a glib: kids are resilient or it’ll be okay or every parent worries.
Trust me on this one.
After several school visits throughout the Deep South, my son and I feel best about a sweet all-boys Catholic school in Bay St. Louis in Mississippi.
We just found out late last week that he has been accepted as a freshman.
I’ll be moving with him this July in time for the 2019–2020 school year.
This time I cross the Mighty Mississippi once more with a just-turned 15-year-old!
It is terrifying.
It might work out.
And it might not.
Again, you have to trust me on this one.
It might be great. And it might not.
So I’m rolling the dice here.
Hoping I’m getting it right, making the best call.
Part of me is super overwhelmed by the logistics, the changes, the unknowns.
But I feel a lot of peace, too.
And I’ve got a back-up plan (well, two) in case this is a debacle.
But I’d be lying if there isn’t the scrappy part of me that’s a little proud. Let’s do this!
Let’s live near the beach, explore a different pocket of the country, and live a little more quietly.
The beach isn’t as nice as the ones I’m accustomed to in Florida, but the relaxed, friendly, but slightly quirky vibe feels like home to me!
In fact, the school campus is actually on the water with its own pier.
I think this environment might be a really good thing for my son.
And it might be good for me, too.
Or I might be bored out of my mind! (I just chuckled.)
We’ll be about 30 minutes from Biloxi/Gulfport. Though I don’t gamble or drink, the casinos bring in some great 70’s and 80’s bands that I adore.
Even better: New Orleans is an hour away.
I’ll avoid it during Mardi Gras and New Year’s, but it’s got a great music scene, architecture, gardens, art, history, and fashion for my creative side.
I have zero desire to live in New Orleans, but the European-esque vibe is very appealing to me. It’s invigorating to visit.
I know your biggest question is: will you still share dating stories, Bonnie?
(Seriously. That’s usually at the top of everyone’s concerns.)
If I have any to share, of course I will!
I will go from about 85% custody of my son to essentially 100%. I know no one in that area.
Bay St. Louis is tiny (about 10k). Biloxi/Gulfport is still small at about 125k. New Orleans will be filled with tourists/visitors and is a haul, so I’m not sure how viable it is.
I’m not that worried.
The Austin dating scene has been a disaster for me. Now that I’m so old and have been online dating for so long, I’ve kind of dated anyone here that might have been a possibility. (At least it feels that way — in terms of online dating anyway.)
My priority is to help my son be successful in the next 4 years.
I’ll try to date, but have low expectations about what that might look like.
I will add: I’ve dated some charming, intelligent, AMAZING Southern men. If you want to bash Southern men, please keep those comments to yourself.
Heck, I live in a city of supposedly enlightened men and have gotten treated like trash by most of ’em.
There are good and bad people everywhere.
Bottom line: my dating expectations are low, but I’m going to stay open-minded for now.
So that’s my big announcement!
I’ll be selling my beautiful old house and leaving Austin in just a few months.
But who knows?
I may be back.
I left once and returned.
It could happen again.
Or I might start somewhere fresh after my son graduates high school.
The next four years are completely up in the air.
Which is rather unsettling in many ways.
But it’s also a little badass (to borrow from my pal Vanessa Torre) to start over somewhere brand new.
To take a chance.
Whether we fail, soar, or just muddle along.
We will certainly visit Austin from time-to-time.
But for now:
Mississippi or bust!
*The biggest con is that I am moving my son out-of-state. I have invited my son’s dad to move to the area but must plan on his staying in Austin indefinitely.
Until her 40’s, Bonnie’s worst nightmare included writing and sharing personal stories publicly. At her friends’ suggestion, she bemusedly started Bonnie’s Mixed Tape on Medium in 2017. She remains shocked that anyone reads her stories and that P.S. I Love You, the Writing Cooperative, Redoubtable, and the Ascent have published her work.
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I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. You using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!