“There’s no way we’ll need all 26 feet of that moving truck. Right?” asked my wife. “No way. I’d be shocked.” Fewer than 36 hours later I could hardly close the door to the truck. My car was also overflowing with my wall art, hangers, random and almost forgotten items. My 18 month old daughter’s training potty sat on the passenger seat. It wasn’t even 8am and I was sweating so much it looked as if I’d just come out of the pool. There was no turning back now.
Goodbye Austin, Texas: population 928,000. Hello Blackstone, Virginia – population 3,000. I had quit. I left Amazon after a successful but tumultuous 2 year run in central Texas.
At the time I got the job offer in 2016, my wife was pregnant. I had been accepted into an accelerated track program, was thrilled with the overall compensation, and felt like I could be a traditional husband and father who provided for his family. My wife wanted to continue to work remotely and be with the baby for a solid year or two, so I took a lot of pride in being able to facilitate that.
We bought a newly built 3,800 square foot home in South Austin. All we could imagine was the joy of being able to host both of our immediate families who were sure to come visit our lovely daughter. The house was too big though. Much of it was unused, and like many homeowners, it created the sense of having to fill it with things that we certainly didn’t need.
The warehouse I worked in was nearly 1 million square feet in size. You walked into the sound of miles of moving conveyance, walkie talkies transmitting, alarms beeping, lights flashing, and people moving. During the course of a shift it was virtually unthinkable to leave the building for food or lunch. The pace was fast and relentless. But even keeping busy and having an enormous space to stretch my legs, I couldn’t help but feel claustrophobic. I took up smoking again just so I could have a reason to go outside often.
My home and my job were the same: large, but empty. Neither has brought me what I had expected and I had begun to question myself and my maturity at every chance. As I’ve done many times in the past, I said to myself, “This can’t be it. I know there’s more.” No matter how unpopular, no matter what pain could follow, the circumstances were primed for combustion and a decision had to be made. It was another flashpoint in my life. So we, as a family, picked up and moved out of our oversized Texas home and into my in-laws’ basement in Blackstone.
Clearly, this was an enormous undertaking. We sold as much as we could in Austin becoming the neighborhood’s never ending garage sale. My home gym, tools, decor, clothes, couches, chairs all sold to the highest bidder. Luckily, my father-in-law owned a storage facility business and we could cram all that we didn’t sell into a couple of units.
My wife, daughter, and dog all left a day prior to me. I left the keys and garage remotes for our tenants, hopped in my car, and looked for the fastest route to Blackstone. We had uprooted our lives. Now what? What if I told you I didn’t have a plan? That I just needed to “be.”
I would have 26 driving hours to think about what I had just done. For the first time since age 13, I was unemployed.