The Final Chapter

My mother told me when we were embarking upon Dental School and New York City that this journey in our life would really only be a blip in time, retrospectively. A small star in the galaxy of our days in this life.

At the time, it was a bit of a coping mechanism; Four years isn’t long, they said. It’ll go by fast, they said.


I wrote this post nearly four years ago, the night before we packed up a U-Haul and drove it across the United States from California to New York City. The photos have since been deleted and lost due to a corrupt Photobucket account, but the memories and feelings are clear as day in my mind. It feels like only yesterday, yet also a lifetime ago.

We submitted our move-out date to our building’s management office yesterday: We will pack another U-Haul and drive it back home next month. (I’m not going to make it through this post without crying, so please bear with me. I know you can’t see me, but the emotions are so big right now). Unbelievably, this chapter in our life is coming to a close, and rather than feeling like the curtain is being drawn shut, I am witness to it being pulled open.

What an incredible gift to be able to look back on this blog and read the bits and pieces that I shared in the middle of an incredible life change. Of course, I wish I would have written more. I wish I could write more even now, but the truth is I just don’t have the time. In this moment, Justin is in the shower getting ready to treat his last patients in the dental clinic and our two youngest are in the living room playing with cars. I fall asleep too soon in the evenings lately, my eyes shut unwillingly after wrangling the kids through a marathon night time routine. Another night lost, yet the sleep is so crucial to my well being the following day, so I submit without much of a fight any more.

I’m trying to process all of this, I can hardly believe it’s happening. In the meantime, I just got back from speaking on an incredible panel at Mom 2.0 in Los Angeles, and we’re preparing for Justin’s graduation on Friday. Our families are flying into town today and tomorrow to celebrate the accomplishment that will launch our future and the futures of our children.


I’ve fantasized about his graduation ceremony for the last four years. I will cry and we will smile while our babies will lift their father up with all the pride in the entire world. If it doesn’t happen in life, it will be happening in my mind and heart.

The truth is that while this is an incredibly jubilant time, it is also one of considerable stress much like the way it was when we moved out here, but with less uncertainty about our future. Justin is incredibly fortunate to have an amazing practice to move into once we we are back in the Bay Area, and it happens to be very close to both of our families-a couple of towns over from where we grew up.

I’m torn about going “back” to a life that I wasn’t terribly sad about leaving in the first place. Sure, I miss my family and friends, but we were ready for a new beginning. As beautiful as the place I grew up is, I’m not all that excited about raising my children there-which is only a revelation that came to me recently. My mother teaches in the elementary school that I went to, that I had planned on sending my kids to. It is, by all accounts, the perfect situation. It would be the perfect place for us if we hadn’t already been raised there. The exact familiarity that I longed for so badly in the months after we arrived in Manhattan is the one I’m reluctant to return to. It’s a time and place that I’ve moved past, a shell of what once was.

I’ll leave this city and this experience knowing that I have been changed almost completely having been here. Similar to the birth of my first child, I’ll never go back to the person that I was before living in New York City. For better in most ways, for worse in a few too. I’m far more tolerant, yet incredibly impatient at the same time.


My feet move quickly on the pavement, my heart always beating in sync with the traffic, the lights, the footprints I leave behind me. I rarely make eye contact with strangers any more, yet I’m acutely aware of what is going on around me. My empathy is all encompassing, yet I’m incredibly protective over the beings within my circle. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and that in and of itself is empowering.


My children are all very excited to move to California-Jack especially. He talks about it so much it’s clear that he never let it out out of his soul. His teachers tell me that he often shares stories about our future there; The large yard around a four bedroom home with a pool in the back yard and a big dog playing ball with him in the grass.


They’ve all absorbed the city life, my youngest two especially. They accept the pace and never mention strangers to me. The millions of different faces are just a part of their everyday life, and I hope that acceptance stays with them forever. That is my most cherished aspect of raising my children here, and with any luck they’ll retain the city love that has developed within them.


When we moved into our apartment, we had a clear and impressive view of the Empire State Building. We’d wait until it got dark outside and watch to see what colors would be illuminated while the kids sat at the window patiently. For the longest time, Zoe actually believed we lived there.

In the last 6 months, a building has been built that completely covers our view.


What once represented home to all of us, the constant fearless lady standing tall and insanely beautiful watching over us is now out of sight. A simple reminder that our days here have come to an end.

We’ll remember New York City as a place where we all grew up in a sense, somewhere I’ll always remember when I look up to the Milky Way; Our own little blip in the galaxy.

I’m ready and excited for our next chapter.


May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground.-Fun.

Join the Conversation


  • Beautiful post!

    I left NYC (after 11-years) to go back to my hometown and it was extremely difficult. But as the armor fell away, I realized I was reinvented and had been longing for a new chapter more than I realized.

    You’ll quickly adapt to having more space and a somewhat lower cost of living. Just lean on your family and your blog for now, you’ll get through it and find your way again.

  • Oh Jess, I’ll really miss seeing the city through your rose colored glasses. Every one of your stories has a happy ending, a lesson learned. I have no doubt that your new life on the West Coast will be the same but with a cleaner and more spacious backdrop πŸ˜‰ Hope to catch up before you head out. Much love, Jill

  • What a wonderful and exciting chapter in your life!

  • It is amazing how we are at once so much more than where we came from and a brilliant product of the same.

    Wishing you exhilaration and the unexpected relief of familiarity through fresh eyes. xo

  • You’ve had an amazing adventure in NYC, that I have loved loved loved reading and seeing. You are changed forever. And you are stronger because you took a chance on an adventure and you thrived. I can’t wait to hear about your life in California, which is sure to be just as amazing.

  • Growing up in NY I know the love one feels for such a special place. You spent 4 wonderful years with your family in one of the most magical places in the world. I can tell by your posts, pictures and online presence how much you have taken in from this experience. It’s so very touching to see someone appreciate and treasure their surroundings like you do. I’m so glad I got to follow along in your journey. Seeing your children grow and watching you smile and say such positive words have been so very special. (I hope I don’t come off as a stalker;) I’m sad that your journey in the city is coming to an end. I will miss your posts and pictures, for I don’t live there anymore and enjoy seeing the beauty of NY. I wish you and your beautiful family all the luck and happy moments in the world! Can’t wait to read about your adventures over in CA. Best wishes! Ps– my father was a dentist. Such a great profession! Best of luck to your husband!

  • So beautiful! This brought me to tears as I read it. Best of luck to you and your beautiful family.

  • the city is intimidating to me. or should i say, use to be. now i want to go there so bad. i love how the city has transformed you and your family. i’m so thankful i’ve “known” you since you started this journey from cali to ny and now back to cali. jess, you see what ever you do, you always, always find the light. that is such an amazing characteristic about you. i can’t wait to continue to follow along on your journey. lord knows, you won’t stay away from nyc for long, i bet it becomes a yearly stop for you. πŸ™‚

  • There’s a lump in my throat for you, Jessica. I’ve made the crazy move to the Bay Area and then I moved from there to NYC. In my opinion you’ve known some of the very best places this country has to offer. Your children are so fortunate to have had these experiences, but more importantly to have such a solid, brave, and insightful momma. Best wishes with your move and I look forward to following your next chapters… xo

  • Sure, I’ll see you on the Twitter, but it won’t be the same.

    Just promise me you won’t start dressing Zoe like a Valley Girl.


  • Such great memories you’ll have forever. I hope your new adventure is just as exciting as this one … I’m sure it will be πŸ™‚

  • Aw, Jessica. I could never (ever, ever) go back to live in the town I grew up in, so I hear you on this.

    We live in the town that Matthew grew up in and it’s even smaller than mine and it’s magic.

    I hope that you find the same magic that you found in NYC.


  • Aw Jess. This post is exactly what it should be. I am crying! (Next to my sleeping babe…) You are NYC to me. You were one of the most important blogging people (and a true, wonderful friend) that I met in 2010, in NYC. I love the memories I have with and of you, and I can’t wait to see you again. We’ll drink tequila and cheers to your next chapter. I love you!!!! xo

  • If you ever want to take pictures of your kids in an urban setting feel free to come to my hood in San Fran. We might not be NYC but we still like to think of ourselves as a big city πŸ™‚

  • Jess, I met you last year at the Shot@Life brunch at Mom2.0 in Miami and I love your blog. Your photography is so amazing and I love the fact that your kids will be able to come back here and read about life in the city as you all knew it. Amazing. Kudos to you on the great panel I sat in on last weekend. You’re amazing. Best of luck with the big move! xoxo

  • Wow, by the time you said you wouldn’t cry, I already had tears rolling down my face.
    My husband lived in Hong Kong for 3 years when he was little and there isn’t a time when his brother, parents and him are together that they don’t mention something or someone from that episode in their lives. Trust me, this experience will remain in your and your kids’ lives forever.
    I also lived in NY for 3 years, now back in my hometown and I know how hard it is to let go of that wonderful city, but you will adapt and be happy, especially through your children’s happiness. You go back to an amazing part of the world to raise children. Best of luck, we will stay with you every step of the way.

  • Sorry, I meant that you WOULD cry, duh!

  • Such a lovely and heartfelt post. I can relate so much being that we are a military family. I’m so proud of you! You are such a strong cookie and have been so supportive and have managed everything so well. The move will be so fantastic, but I can understand all of your emotions. I’m looking forward to following along with the move, what an amazing time for you and your crew!

  • I have tears too! You will be so missed. Your words have always been magic and what I love is your optimism and strength in all you do for your family. You will surely guide them confidently into your new adventure. Never lose the beautiful soul you are. I hope I get to see you and give you a hug before you leave. xoxo

  • Beautiful post. Thanks for your honest poignancy. I urge to try to enjoy the process of rediscovering the place you grew up. My husband and I have done the same after returning home from a very different life we lead in both LA and Santa Fe, NM. But, slowly we have found that the place we grew up is really the most wonderful place to raise our boys. I hope you find the same. I look forward to seeing the journey unfold. Here’s to new beginnings!

  • This post is so, so wonderful. And the Fun. quote? Perfection. I can’t wait to read about your family’s new adventure. I’m sure it will be amazing, even if it’s not NYC. πŸ™‚

  • I’m a fairly new reader here and I’ve loved watching your adventures in the city. Once upon a time when we were newly married, my husband and I packed up a U-Haul and drove from Indiana to NYC. Like you, we were there for four years. We moved back shortly before our first baby was born to be near our families as we started our own family. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss that city and wish we would have stayed a little longer. It’s in my bones now. It’s in my daughter’s too. She’s fascinated by the fact that she was in my belly when we lived there. We took her back for the first time last fall and she fell in love and constantly asks when we can go back. I guess all of this is to say that you and your children have been so blessed to grow up in the city together (because, yes, one is forever changed after living there). I really don’t think it will leave them — or you. Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to watching your brood as you embark on your next glorious chapter.

  • Beautiful post Jessica! Change is always bittersweet. Good luck in your next chapter and big life adventure back to the Bay Area!

  • I cried. So excited for you. You’ve made a wonderful life for your children.


  • What a beautiful post! Made me thought about all the cities IΒ΄ve lived in, how each mold you and change you forever. I wish you the best of lucks in your new adventure!

  • I have just stumbled upon your blog and find myself with many of the same emotions you describe in this blog. I have been a medical school/resident widow since 2007 and my husband graduates from all of it next month. We have had 2 children, moved 5 times and have never really had roots. Our family, like yours, is moving back “home” – near where my husband and I grew up and our families still live. We are building a beautiful house I never imagined we could afford and we also will have a big backyard with a dog. But it does feel a bit like living in reverse. Life is full of step-ups, moving forward and upward. Yet, I feel like we’re taking a few steps back as we are making plans to raise our children in a place I always swore I wouldn’t. We have lived in a different country on the beach, in huge cities where we rode the train to work, and in the Deep South, witnessing racism that I didn’t even realized still existed. We have had experiences. We have fought for the right to do whatever we want with our future. We can go wherever we want. And we are choosing to return “home” after all our adventures. I guess after all the pictures are taken, the new friends are made, and the journey comes to an end, the familiarity of home and family is a strong pull, even if it does take us back to a place we ran from 14 years ago.

  • You don’t know me; I don’t know you but THAT was beautifully said!!! Just beautiful! Best of luck in your new adventure!!!

  • What a great post. Maybe one of my favorites. Not because you will be coming back and I can see you, but because it just shows you. I dont know if that makes sense… πŸ™‚

    It is a new beginning, again, and for that I wish you an amazing journey my friend. xx

  • I can’t wait to see what your Cali life brings you and your beautiful family! I’ll be admiring from afar. Good luck, Jessica!

  • Jessica,
    I remember when I first stumbled upon your blog. You had submitted something to a reality series about mom bloggers that I think never materialized. You talked about developing your own voice, your true, authentic self after you moved to NYC and started blogging. So, in my mind (and this is the only ‘you’ I know) you’re not going ‘backwards’, you’re returning to the Bay area as a different person, with a strong voice and a point of view. If anything, this move may help you move your journey in new and exciting ways…albeit in a different place.

  • Beautiful post. Best of luck in your future endeavors πŸ™‚

  • There truly is beauty everywhere, in different forms. Moving from NYC to our hometown in Northern CT made me so nervous for such similar reasons. I miss NYC but just like NYC can’t be replaced, neither can the proximity of family. And those are just the big things. Enjoy, embrace, NYC will always be a part of you.

  • This is a beautifully written post. I’ve never even met you, but I have a big lump in my throat after reading this. The feeling of leaving a place you truly love is heartwrenching. But going back to your roots is good for your soul. I wish you and your family much happiness in your new adventure.

  • As a non-native NYC dweller your post is making me think of what will happen if/when I leave the city. It too nearly brings tears to my eyes. Growing up in Ohio I knew at 11 years old that I wanted to live here and finally made it here at 6 years ago at the age of 26 and now with a husband and a toddler I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I wish you the best in the next chapter and congrats to your hubby!

  • Please tell me where you found this quote. Is it yours? “May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground.-Fun ” Loved your post. Have only been to NYC as a visitor, though I worked as a coat check girl for a while, but it has an energy I’ve not found anywhere else. Good luck in your new life. πŸ™‚

  • Hi, I love your blog! As a former Manhattanite and now suburban mommy, I love to read your adventures.

    I am expecting baby #2 in April & am in need of a double stroller – I have been looking at the BOB duallie but I was interested in what stroller you have in the 4th picture of this blog “the final chapeter?”

    thank you

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