This is Bittersweet.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

I moved for the first time when I was 7 years old. My parents had decided to leave Harbor Springs, Michigan to go to Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Half-way across the country and far from the world and culture I knew. From that point on it seemed that every 4-6 years of my life I have moved. I learned in those moves the older I became, how every place you go in life is no accident. You never arbitrarily land somewhere. Instead, even when something feels like it just happened, you can recount all the ways it actually was meant to be. Each town, I went to as a kid I would mentally and emotionally box it up much like I did each of my rooms while I was growing up. Now as an adult, I do the same and it seems as I age, I find the boxing up harder and harder to do. Maybe it is with age comes knowledge of how things go when you leave a place. The repetitive motion of letting go, saying goodbye, leaving a community, leaving a place that has helped make you. Each place holds memories, experiences, people, names, moments, laughter, tears, growth, joy, failures etc. All important details of how that place had shaped me over the years. And now, together Mike and I are packing up another box of a place in our story.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

When Hayes came along it wasn’t long before we began wondering about how much longer we had left in Raleigh. There is something about having a baby that clarifies so much in life. We realized quickly how far we were from our families (Mike’s in Texas and mine in Northern Michigan). Realizing that you no longer are just responsible for yourself but for this little life and shaping it seems to show you what matters and what doesn’t. It also shows you your place in your families at large. Hayes became the thing that exposed that our days here in this town were numbered.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

Before we left for the summer, we were tossing around the idea of moving. Mike asked me what did I want more than anything? My response, a garden…a half acre garden, chickens, a magical place for a table to bring together people I loved, be debt free, and to simplify life down to living from what we grew. While in Raleigh, we have been far from able to do these things, that over the years since being here, I have realized are essential to my nature. These things coupled with the desire to be close to family, meant we had two options: Texas or Michigan.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

When we left for Michigan this year we had very seriously made the decision to move to Austin, close to Mike’s family. We love Austin. That town is so cool, fun, full of creative energy, and we had family and friends already. Remember our little trip? Yeah, that was to scout out places to live. It was just days before we left that I started getting a funny feeling that something didn’t work with Austin, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

But as we thought about it in the first few weeks of being up north, we realized that this whole time, we had never really left Michigan even though we bought a house and “moved” to Raleigh. There was a moment we realized that our hearts and souls just waited and anticipated for the time we could get back to Michigan. All this time we thought we had been doing our summers in Michigan, when in actuality we had simply been wintering in Raleigh.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

So on that walk that day, we began the discussion of moving back to Michigan and what that meant. We tossed everything out on the table with our business and why we originally left Michigan to begin with. What we realized was many of the reasons we left no longer were something that mattered. It almost seemed silly to think about why we had originally moved and we realized we no longer had any reason to remain in Raleigh other than a few friends who have meant so much to us. This realization all came to us the week before we had planned to spend 2 weeks in Traverse City. We made the decision that our next place would be something we designed and built so we knew we were now officially on the hunt for land in Leelanau County, the place we have always dreamed about owning a place, though we never thought it would be where we would be making home full time. We did research on schools and talked with friends. We prepped ourselves for a land mortgage and got in touch with our realtor with the anticipation of this taking time. We had some very exact things on our list of desires.

A week after we started looking, I was perusing the land options on Realtor.com and came across a 10-acre piece of land on the Leelanau Peninsula. We both loved it and so we set up a time to walk it with our realtor. We drove down the dirt road that day to look at the land and arrived at the base of the two-track drive that takes you back into the woods. There sat a piece of land we thought would take quite a while to find. It had the internet we needed, electric run to it, woods, apple trees, blackberry bushes, fields, wheat, valleys…you name it it was there. Our 10 acres of heaven we thought couldn’t be found. Knowing our past experience with buying real estate, we took the approach that if this was meant to be, it will be. So we put in our offer and no sooner found out we weren’t the only offer. After putting in our top offer, we figured it wouldn’t be good enough, but that weekend we received a call that we had been the winning offer on the land. In that instant, we realized this was really happening. This place that we thought wouldn’t exist a week ago, not only did, but it was now becoming ours. And this week, on Monday, we closed on that land officially making it our’s.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

It wasn’t two weeks after finding the land, that we received an email from a real estate agent in Raleigh who had a buyer potentially interested in our home. Buying the land in our mind wasn’t a decision to move from Raleigh in that instant. In fact, we knew it would take time to get things arranged to build the house and get everything setup to do so, not to mention the time it would take to build. So, we had not put out any feelers on selling our house other than telling one or two friends we would potentially be moving in the coming year. So, this was completely out of the blue. We figured at that point we would entertain it, I mean why not?! A week later we went under contract with the buyer completely off the market because the offer was the right one for us to feel it was the right thing.

They say that there are no coincidences in life and at times I have been skeptical of statements like that, but this summer, my feelings have changed. I believe that when something is meant to be all things come together to make it happen. And though sometimes it doesn’t happen in the time you believe it should, it still does because whether we know it or not, it is the right time for it to happen. Sometimes that means waiting and sometimes that means sooner than expected. This time, we have landed very much in the latter.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

So, this week we have been spending packing boxes and memories of not only our house we thought would hold our lives much longer than it now will, but of life here in Raleigh. It is bittersweet. There is no other word to better describe it all. Raleigh has been a place we had hoped to be something different for us than it was, but different doesn’t mean wrong. Raleigh was right in many ways. Our parents each have asked us at different times if we regretted our move to Raleigh as we have made this decision to move, and we resoundingly say no. It took us time to feel like we wouldn’t be running from this place, to find peace with what has been learned here, and to grieve leaving some of the most precious and beautiful times and relationships in our lives. In ways we didn’t anticipate, Raleigh has been better and worse than we could have expected. Raleigh is a town growing, changing, and a little like a teenager trying to find out who it is. There are a lot of growing pains here culturally, politically, economically, and creatively. We have made some amazing new friends we never could have imagined we would make and we know they will be lifelong relationships. We also sadly lost old friendships we never expected to. Raleigh has made us work hard to learn who we are and even more so who we are not, which when you leave your 20’s is a great thing to know.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

For us, Raleigh has been a town of extremes. We have learned some very hard lessons here and felt great loss, but we have also experienced the greatest joy of welcoming a child here and deep laughter with people who have shown us true community. We have grown into people we are proud of and we know that only happened because of this town. We have learned the importance of community here on this street we live on amongst these people we have come to love just like family. We have shared meals full of laughter and tears. We have celebrated holidays, births, triumphs, and every other part of life with our neighbors. We have found family amongst the people who live on our street with us. We have never felt more blessed to know such loving people. We have danced harder and lived fuller. We have had the chance to learn what it means to be there for a friend in need. There is no doubt to us, we were meant to be here on Plainview Avenue the last three years. This was where we were supposed to learn, grow, become, and define ourselves.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

I can recount some of the most beautiful times of my life happening here in Raleigh and we moved here because of how much we desired that kind of community. The community we found was different than the one we intended to be apart of, but we have learned life is best when it goes against our plans. I still remember the first time our neighbor Angela came to our door and introduced herself. A single mother of two daughters, running a restaurant downtown, and living 1,000’s of miles from her home in Columbia. The gifts she would leave us reminded me to love people unexpectedly. I remember the first time we met our friends Tara and Ryan when we rented the house across the street from them. Over the years they have given and loved on us more than we have ever known friends to do. The willingness to share, take care of us, feels like something we will never be able to repay at times. Tara and I grew so close and she has been my confidant through the last three years. We are so different in hundreds of ways, but I couldn’t think of a better best friend. We danced at concerts together, had brunches together, got drunk together, had many amazing meals together, had late night text chats together, everything. It is hard to think of life without her being our neighbor anymore.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

But harder than the city to leave is this home. I could write a whole post just about leaving this house. This little old house that was our first and the one we expected to have longer than we will. I know every creak of the floor, where to hop over so I don’t wake Hayes. I know how long it takes to get it clean. I know how it feels in the Spring to open the windows all up and listen to Willie Nelson on a Sunday. It has become our safe place. It has been the place that held us as we grew, changed, dreamed, fought, created, and refined. Though we knew when we unlocked that door the first day that this wasn’t our forever home, we anticipated we would be here longer. That in the least there would be a good 5-6 years here in this house. We built the studio of our dreams for a business we thought we knew where it was headed. None of that do we regret or feel we made bad decisions on. In fact, we feel quite the opposite. That studio served its time for us. We enjoyed it. It paid for itself and we will miss it.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

As we have been packing up our home over the last few days, we have been sorting through the last two years that were lived here. I have been realizing the number of deeply personal moments and experiences that have happened in this home for us especially considering the short amount of time we have been here. I didn’t anticipate leaving the place where we brought Hayes home for the first time before he was 1. I walk past the mirror in the bathroom and look at myself as I have hundreds of times over the past two years as I have changed physically, emotionally, and spiritually as a woman. I see the pre-mom me, the moment I found out I was pregnant, the first time I saw a bump, the me that stared at me after a shower the night before being induced, the postpartum me, and now this me a woman stronger, fuller, and deeper than I have ever been before. This house has been transformative for me maybe something like a chrysalis in these two years and the woman I entered here isn’t the same today, in all the most beautiful ways.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

I don’t know if I will ever fully let this house go in my heart because of who I have grown to be here and how I welcomed my first baby home here, but I do know that I am thankful endlessly for this little light filled bungalow of our’s. I am thankful for the neighbors that loved on us as a family and brought us meals, gifts, flowers, and cried with us and laughed with us. I am thankful for the love that we have known here and the dreams that have happened in these walls. It has loved us so well and we hope it feels the same in some way. This place became home and being away this summer, made me realize how much it had. When I leave here next week for the last time, I will leave with a baby in my arms and a heart full of beautiful memories that I hope echo in these walls and my heart for years to come.

Bittersweet  |  The Fresh Exchange

So as we spend the next few days packing our truck, I will mentally and emotionally be packing up another box in my heart and soul of a city that has made us better than when we came here. We aren’t the people we anticipated, but we have become better people because of the experiences we have had and the people we have been lucky enough to share these last few years with. This box will be a sad one to close, but what lies ahead is something that we have been dreaming about for years and years never knowing if it would ever be possible. The other night I told Mike, “Moving to Traverse City is the most sure I have felt about a decision…right up there with making the decision to marry you.” The road we walk is winding and wild, but sometimes it leads us right back to where we began only as different people so that we can best enjoy the place we left.

Next week we will be sharing more about what lies ahead with our move to Traverse City and how this all will be affecting this space in all the greatest possible ways. We have never been more excited, sure, or calm about such a major decision thus far in life.

Till then, we say goodbye to the chapter that took us south to a new place to a new us.

Leave a comment

  1. Choosing to go back to Michigan is going to feel healthier and happier than if you had never left. You will appreciate it more. If you had never left, you would always wonder “what if.” CHange is good. Change back is good, too.

  2. this post is Just beautiful. as a fellow first time mother of a baby under one, i am also dreaming of a different life in the country growing our food and being connected to nature, not to mention close to family (it is so hard without the village!). all the best with this huge new chapter xx

  3. This poSt was so beautiful! Thank you for sharing . LoOking forward to reading About your adventures in miChigan. Your property looks beyond dreamy

  4. I am so excited for you! We also have dreams of moving ‘up north,’ but our careers have kept us in metro Detroit. Reading this post and seeing that photo of your land gave me all the feels. My goodness, good for you! <3

  5. Congrats on the exciting news, but especially finding the clarity on a large life decision (i find babies do that to you). I just made that decision a few months Ago and purchased 14.5 acres to create my own HOMESTEAD – and i know It will be the best decision i ever mAde. If you ever need a home design i’d love to help, or Even just Collaborate plans. Either way, i cant wait to hear more about this new journey you will take. Best of luck to you and your family!

  6. I so enjoyed reading this post. It so so resonates with me. Though I am a few years behind you in life, my husband and I have such a similar trajectory. New hampshire to us is what Michigan is to you. I grew up in New Hampshire but moved to Massachusetts for college and have ultimately settled here (for now) with our first home ownership being here, as well as our careers. However, we dream daily of the day that we can buy a piece of land much like the one you and Mike just scored (congrats!!!) and build our ‘forever home’ there as well. So we can raise children without bounds, with peace and quiet, space to breathe, farm animals and alll the fresh herbs and veggies just outside our door. It is so reassuring to see such hard working people like yourself and mike achieving this goal. IT gives me hope that we will as well. I can so understand and feel the sigh of relief that I know this move will bring for you both and little Hayes! Best of luck and I cannot wait to see what is next for you in this journey back to your true home 🙂

  7. Wow, I give you guys so many props. We bought our house, a small 2 bedroom bungalow, just over 2 years ago as well. While we don’t have any kids in the mix yet (just two crazy dogs), there are days when I want to leave it for a big farmhouse and days when I love it too much to ever want to leave it. I know we won’t be here forever, but you guys have given me the confidence to know that when it happens, it happens, and though it may be sooner or later than we anticipate, we have to know that everything happens for a reason.

    Very excited to watch this next phase of your life unfold and follow along for the build of your dream home! What fun!

  8. Sending lots of encouragement and joy your way as you move. I think sometimes we need to leave a place to realize how much it has shaped us and how much we are a part of it. Hayes is lucky to grow up with a family that thinks so intentionally about everything- and that land! Can’t wait to see what y’all do with it! peace, kyle

  9. Ah, congratulations!! Im so glad that yoire finding your way to your true place of home. As a girl who also gree up moving every couple years, i Am glad to have found my home here in Cleveland (right back on lake erie where i “grew up” for 9 years). I never thought i would be back this Way, bUt its been such a blessing in so many ways to be back and to find my new home city 🙂 so happy for you both!! Xoxo

  10. Oh, this brought tears to my eyes. Choosing where to live is such an emotional and personal decision. I can’t imagine how it feels to leave your first home. Congratulations on finding that beautiful plot of land in Michigan. Y’all have convinced me over the years of reading this blog how much I need to visit MI. Hopefully sooner than later.

  11. This post is beautiful. I’ve been thinking of house and home so much lately. We sold our 1st home in HOLLAND, mi in april and have been traveling in an RV since then. Leaving that old house was emotional and there are times I long for it. I don’t know what is next for us and I’m trying to be okay with that. 8,000 miles traveled and although there is so much beauty everywhere, there really is something so special about michigan. I wish you peace as you move forward!
    I’ll add that I met you at the first maker’s market in TC when my business was a baby and you were the postive ego boost I needed that day when I felt like an imposter. Thank you!

  12. So excited for you and your michigan adventures!! What a beautiful place you have purchased and what a great spot to raise Hayes. We go up north every summer and I fall more in love with traverse and surrounding areas every time! Beautiful post and blessings on all the changes ahead~

  13. what a beautiful post, megan. It’s such an incredible reminder that life will indeed defy the plans in our minds and unfold in such unpredictable ways… and that’s a good thing. i needed this reminder and so appreciate you sharing your story!

  14. I’ve been following you for quite some time now, and I never got the feeling Raleigh was the perfect place for you. But like you say: we go to every place for a reason.
    The land seems just magical! I’m sure you will be able to create an amazing haven there for your family and creative business!
    We are in the same position: away from family with a tiny one, living near Madrid (Spain) for the coMmunity, but not feeling it fit a 100%. We are also thinking of moving and getting closer to family, and buying land to build our dream house with Bed and Breakfast and restaurant (my husband’s job, I’m a designer)

  15. as I read this wonderful post, it brought tears. we discovered how beautiful the leelanau area is on a 2-week boat trip this summer. we live in ohio and now see the beautiful “this is michigan” commercials, and can’t wait til we can return. we’re contemplating early retirement (we are both soon to be 63) and hope that we have the guts that you have to pack up and leave our beautiful home of 40 years, in order to make the remaining time we have here on earth even more meaningful and blessed. plus, we just welcomed our first grandchild (a sweet little boy!) into our lives, but they live in chicago. time is precious and life is short.
    Good luck on your move and my prayers will be with you!

  16. Oh, this… I’m SO happy for y’all. As soon as I saw the title, I wondered if y’all were moving. Sometimes, God just pulls some awesome strings & something you didn’t realized you wanted just falls into place. It’s gotta be hard leaving. But, imagine all the free babysitting from the grandparents who live close-by! 😉 And to be where your soul loves to be… that’s the best thing in the world. Good luck packing <3

  17. Congratulations on your move north! Leelanau is the greatest. my husband and i hope to be making the same move next sPring. If you are looking for a builder i highlY Reccomend Padella co. Building. My parents, husband and wife duo they build beautiful Quality custom homes. Best of luck, Just imagine whole summers in the beautiful county, and winter too, its just all soo soo good! I get excited just thinking abouT it!

  18. As a michigan girl who just moved from hawaii to North Carolina, i can tell you, i understand. The mitten always calls you back home. And what a wonderful area – beautiful Seasons, rural yet just a bit cosmopolitan somehow! Best wishes!

  19. I live in Empire, so i’m selfishly hoping you bought in the lower half of the peninsula. I would love to share my secret haunts and eats with you! All the best during this transition. I’ve found in my 54 years, following/listening to your heart is the best practice.

  20. Oh boy was I feeling this one hard. I felt like in a lot of ways I was reading what has been going on in my own head. My husband is from Austin and I’m from Michigan and we are living in SEattle. We are beginning the baby process and it had us both thinking seriously about where we want to live. We would both love to be closer to family, Me especially thinking about a baby coming along. We love it here so much but it just doesn’t make as much sense anymore. a few months ago we were really trying to make Austin work but that wasn’t falling into place like we imagined. When that excitement wore off I was thinking heavily of Michigan. It’s been 8 years since I moved and I have this feeling down deep that it’s where I need to be. When I’m home things just feel right and I’m in love with it in a way I don’t feel about anyplace else. I’m not sure the timing is right for us just yet so I’ll need to patient and do what I can to enjoy this space I’m in but i am looking forward to seeing your new life back in michigan unfold. Oh the beauty of it just makes me ache for home.

  21. I’ve followed your posts for some time now, enjoying reading about you two working together, navigating big decisions together, traveling together. We’re peers, and my husband and have a lot of parallel values and skills that I really relate to in your writing as a couple. we recently made the choice to move “home” to oklahoma from Atlanta, a place we’ve lived and worked for more than a decade. I think most of our friends there thought we were crazy. (Oklahoma?! Really?!) But 8 months in, 5 with our new baby girl, and I know wholeheartedly that this was the right decision for us. So many doors have opened that we’d never have had the space to pursue previously. The doors that have closed weren’t meant to be. There’s a huge sense of peace that’s washed over both of us, even in a time of huge chage. Wishing you (three) the same! Cheers!

  22. I confess we have never visited that part of Michigan. But after following you and reading your very obvious love of the area, we really need to go there. We’ve been planning a trip back to Minnesota, anyway.

  23. Your Writing is so lovely and hits home. We aRE the opposite; we moved to michigAn from austin (funnily, my company wanted me to relocate to raleigh, but we definitely knew that wouldn’t be a good fit). As gorgeous as this state is, we have struggled to feel at home here. I always felt that michiganders and texans are cut from the same rugged cloth, but it has been hard to shake the feeling that we wiLl always be outsiders. Maybe it just Takes more time. Going back home is not an option due to meteOric home priCes there.

    Having said that, congrats on pursuing the dream of a wide, open space to live your lives and raise family. Such a beautiful spot of country! Best wishes on a smooth home build 😉

    1. Wow that is really interesting. Where in Michigan are you guys at if you don’t mind me asking? Different parts of Michigan have a tendency to be so different when it comes to be welcoming we have even found. If you get a chance come north to Traverse City. I think it does take time though. We always say it takes at least 2 years to really connect into a community. I understand completely! Hopefully going home will be an option soon enough!