In the summer of 2013, Bonnie, Lexi, and I made a trip to Utah for our annual family reunion and my Dad’s 86th birthday. As Lexi hadn’t even turned one yet, this was the first time that the family had been able to interact with her walking around. Needless to say, everyone had a blast with her and the entire trip was really great, which made leaving harder than usual.
From Utah, we flew to Georgia to spend a little time with Bonnie’s Grandma and then we drove up to South Carolina to see Bonnie’s parents. On the drive up, Bonnie and I started talking about how much fun we had in Utah and how great it was to be with the family. As our conversation progressed, we discussed how awesome the outdoors were in Utah and how good the economy was in Utah and how nice it would be to live so close to so many relatives. After a little while, I finally had to pause the conversation:
“B, I’m not sure where this conversation is going, but it kinda sounds like we might be open to moving to Utah?” I said, with a nervous, unbelieving tone in my voice.
In my mind, this is something that could not, would not, and should not ever even be a possibility. When I left Utah in 1998, I had always considered that it was going to be forever. Sure, I would visit a couple times a year, but I never thought about moving back. After all the hardship and baggage that I carried from my childhood, there was really no way I thought I could ever stomach moving back. But, here we were, talking as though it were a possibility.
“I don’t know…” Bonnie finally responded. “I guess so?” she said, completely uncertain.
“I’ve never seriously considered moving back, but if you’re open to it then it must be a sign.” I said, only half joking.
As we talked a little bit more, we settled on the idea that if God wanted for us to move to Utah, He would have to open the doors. So we decided that I would very casually start looking for potential job openings and we’d see what would happen.
Even though I never really thought we would move to Utah, I was excited by the potential! That night, I began searching through the internet job boards as I figured I better move quickly before Bonnie had too much time to change her mind. What I quickly found was that there were plenty of job openings in Utah. Being a Computer Engineer / Web Developer, I wasn’t going to have any trouble finding a high paying job. The question then became “at what cost am I willing to move the family to Utah?”
Since the majority of the job openings I was seeing were for corporate positions, my excitement quickly began to fade. I had already left the corporate world once and I still thought it to be among the greatest decisions of my life. Yes, I wanted to be closer to my parents and my siblings, but I didn’t want to go back to the longer hours, the late nights, and the self-serving work. At which point I began to think that maybe Utah just wasn’t meant to be.
Over the next few weeks I kept my eyes on the job boards and explored a couple of positions at some academic institutions, but my hopes had calmed. I definitely felt like God was working on something big for our family, but I had no idea what it actually was. Perhaps it was a move to Utah or perhaps it was a move back to Costa Rica. I didn’t know either way.
As I continued to contemplate the possibility of returning to the corporate world, nothing was at peace. Finally, I drew a hard line in the sand.
“Here’s the deal, b: I’d like to move back to Utah, but not at the expense of our family. If we’re going to make this move, it’s going to be for the benefit of our family and me going back to corporate isn’t inline with that mission. That said, not only do I want to stay in working in academia, I want to stay working at the community college level. More specifically, I want to work at the school that is just down the street from my parent’s house. They’re motto is “We Change Lives”. How perfect is that? So, if we’re going to move to Utah, it’s going to be because I get a job at that school teaching web design.”
“Sure, honey. Sounds like a plan. Do they have any openings?” she responded.
“Not right now.” I explained. “But I signed up for their email list to be notified if any openings due come available.”
“Sounds good, honey.” she said sarcastically.
With that, we tabled the whole conversation.
A few weeks went by and we had simply gone on living our wonderful Florida lives when I received an email notification for an opening at the “We Change Lives” school. It was for a Digital Media Design Instructor position!
I immediately applied and told Bonnie the news. She was luke warm about the opportunity as it was a long shot for a guy in Florida to win out a position over someone local, but there was only one way to find out. After applying a solid month had gone by before I actually heard anything back from the school. Finally, they wanted to set up a Skype interview at the beginning of December.
As soon as I finished the interview, I walked out of the bedroom and into the living room where Bonnie was playing with Lexi.
“B, I know you haven’t been taking this opportunity very seriously, but I just killed it in that interview. I’m not promising that I’m going to get the job, but I just gave the performance of a lifetime in there.”
“Ok, honey.” is all she said. “Good job.”
A few days later I got a phone call from one of the directors at the school saying that they’d really like to meet me in person. I told him that I would be in town for the Christmas break (just two weeks later) and that I would be happy to meet with them then. So on our first morning in Utah for Christmas, I snuck out of my Mom’s house in my finest interview suit early in the morning and headed to school for a second round interview. On my way out the door, one of my sisters asked where I was going and I simply said “to a meeting” as I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it so as not to get anyone’s hopes up. Especially not my Mom’s.
After about an hour and a half of my in-person panel interview, I was confident that the job was mine. Nobody had said anything to imply that the job was mine, but I gave another performance of a lifetime, but this time it was in person! As I got back to my Mom’s house, I immediately went to the bedroom to find Bonnie.
“B – It’s serious now. I just nailed that interview and I’m pretty positive they’re going to make me an offer. I know you’ve been trying not to get ahead of yourself with this whole thing, but it’s time to get real. If they offer us this job, we’re going to take it, right?”
“Yes. We’re going to take it.” she said, with a touch of sadness in her voice.
Though Bonnie was excited about the opportunity to have our kids grow up close to family, she had just spent that past year or so building up the strongest community she had ever had. Leaving that behind was going to be incredibly difficult, no matter how great the next place was. Even so, it was all about to become a reality and I needed to make sure she was on board.
Just then, my phone rang.
“B – It’s the school. We’re going to accept the offer… right?”
“Right.” she said, with a fabricated half-smile on her face. She definitely knew she wanted to make the move as it was the right thing for our family, but she was still sad about leaving her friends in Florida.
So I answered the phone, they made us a wonderful offer and we excepted. Finally, I could tell my family the good news they new absolutely nothing about!
My Mom and Dad were already in the kitchen together when Bonnie and I came in…
“Mami – What do you think about us moving to Utah?” I said.
“Pues, encantada de la vida?!” she responded with her eyebrows raised in a look of surprise.
Rather than hold out any longer, I went ahead and told her the whole story… “I just got a job at the local college and I’m going to be starting at the beginning of February!”
Immediately a couple of my other siblings who were eves-dropping from the living room ran into the kitchen to congratulate us! My brother Efren quickly suggested that we move into his house (that just happens to be immediately next door to my other brother Antonio’s house) and that he would get himself an apartment.
And just like that, my life had come full circle and I was coming home.