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Home Sweet Home: A Life Update

So, a bit of an update that I promised. I’m still working on getting more Wattys Shortlist reviews up, but bear with me. It’s been really busy at work, and I just don’t have the energy to focus on reading a lot right now or paying close enough attention to write reviews.


Anywho, so… I moved. It was a pretty big move, actually, but I’ll start at the beginning…

That Oklahoma sky...

Back in May, I went to my hometown in Oklahoma for my 20th high school reunion. It was an amazing time, and I got to reconnect with folks that I hadn’t seen since high school and spend time with family. I hadn’t realized just how much I missed this place and the people here. My friends joked that I should just move back so we could hang out all the time, and I laughed it off. I didn’t think I was ready to make such a big move (from Florida to Oklahoma) so soon after returning to the U.S. from Korea. Also, I didn’t think three months (when my lease ended) was enough time to pull off a move that big.


My friends then offered to fly down and help me get all my stuff up to Oklahoma if I changed my mind. I told them that I was probably going to do another year in Florida - part of me still wanted to give it a chance because I loved the weather and the convenience of living in Fort Lauderdale.


However, I couldn’t stop thinking about my hometown.


I wasn’t happy in Florida and things were definitely stressful. I found out in late March that my main freelance gig, which was a major source of income, was lowering my weekly assignments starting in May. This was a substantial hit on my earnings (I lost about $2,000-$3,000 a month). I was also dealing with an elderly dog that cost me $500 to over $1,000 a month in vet and med bills, plus I had just purchased a car and added car payments and car insurance to my monthly expenses.


I then had to put Morgan down in late April - right before I left for my trip home - after having him for 10 years. Which killed me. I loved that dog, and it was incredibly painful to watch him slip away over his last several months.


I felt incredibly lonely and disconnected. I couldn’t write. I hardly left the house. I didn’t feel like I could talk to my roommates. While I had met a few friends, we weren’t at the point where I could fully confide in them. It didn’t help that I basically shared them with my roommate. I didn’t feel like I had a strong, solid, and supportive friend group, which is something I seriously needed.


It didn’t help that things were getting tense with my roommates. Now, it wasn’t really that anyone did anything wrong. It was more so that we all went into the situation thinking I would move out after a year. I was ready to have my own space, and I’m fairly sure my roommates were ready to have their own space as well. But I wasn’t going to be able to move out into my own apartment in Florida until I found a new job.


And I was having zero luck despite the 10 to 20 jobs I applied for every week.


A few days after I got back from Oklahoma, some friends from Korea were in town and invited me out. On the way there, I was texting with one of my close friends from back home, and once again, the niggle was there. Then while we were at the bar, we ended up next to a couple from Tulsa. I talked at length with my friends about my trip back home and how I couldn’t stop thinking about moving back.


Which was strange. Really strange. Yes, I had planned to eventually move back to Oklahoma, but not this soon. I wanted to go to Atlanta or Northwest Arkansas. Somewhere, still a bit bigger than my pop. 3,000, middle-of-nowhere hometown in Oklahoma. I wanted to try and break into the film industry as a writer.

Pip competing in the local pet Halloween costume contest as Zero.

It was then that I realized I was overthinking this. And that deep down, I wanted to go home. I was ready. It helped that the older woman from Tulsa hugged me as she left and told me, “You seem like a strong woman. Oklahoma needs a lot more women like you. Go home.”


I decided right that moment that I was going to move back home. My friend commented that she hadn’t seen me smile like that since years ago in Korea. My friend in my hometown said I sounded happier than she’d heard me sound in years when we talked on the phone afterward.


I told my roommate a few days later, and she was surprised. But I had about three months before I moved, so it was all good. Or, at least, I thought I had that long.


Thankfully, the money I had saved up to move in Florida was more than enough to finance moving back to Oklahoma. I started to stress about finding a place to rent. But then I found the perfect house for me and Pippin. However, moving into it meant I had to bump up my move by a month - two weeks before I left. Yes, this made things infinitely more stressful, but I was actually happy to push it up. I was ready to get back into my own space. And honestly, everything fell into place so smoothly that I knew it was the right decision.


My friends flew down to Florida. We had some issues with the moving truck that pushed back our departure by four hours. But we got everything loaded up and hit the road. Then we ended up arriving in Oklahoma two hours ahead of schedule.


Pip and I made it home.


My life is so incredibly different… Korea feels like a lifetime ago. Even Florida feels a bit like a dream. I’ve found a place and a purpose for myself. I have friends that I see or talk to almost every day. I visit with my grandparents at least once a week. I’m becoming friends with my cousins again. I’m involved in community theater again. I’m finally going to see my mom’s family for Thanksgiving - driving this time. I can visit my mom and brother’s graves when I want to.


I have a job. Oh, and I’m writing again. I’m three and a half chapters from finishing a new novel that I started in August. Plus, a guy I went to high school with is filming a movie in town. He’s interested in a few of my completed works and wants me to write treatments for them.


How bonkers is that?


I feel better than I have in years. Yes, I still have some stress in my life. I’m working in the news industry again (another post for another day). I still have a bit of financial worries, though, for the time being, I’m okay. I’m constantly on the go, which is the exact opposite of where I was this time last year. It’s taken some adjusting going back to work in an office, but I’m doing well, I think.


And yea. It’s just… some days I wake up, and I can’t believe where I am right now. To go from living abroad and loving it to feeling stuck. To moving back to the U.S. and feeling unhappy and constantly stressed in Florida. To now.


Incredibly busy, but with a life so much fuller than it’s been in… I can’t remember.


God, I’m happy.


But yeah, I suppose that’s my update. I’m home. I’m happy. And best of all, I’m writing.

So happy these women talked me into moving back.


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Renée Shantel
Renée Shantel
Nov 18, 2023

This is such a beautiful post to read. =') I'm so glad you're home and happy!

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