The Big Reveal

It’s been a strange time for a while now. The grandness of the life update I teased back in February in my post, “Never Going Back,” seems to get lost in the shuffle of daily tasks and chronic exhaustion with each passing week. There’s also an oddness about the ways this post – this announcement about “what’s next” – has weighed on me, as though I am the center of the universe and no one has anything else going on. I’ve pictured all my tens of loyal readers logging on each morning with their cup of coffee, whispering to themselves and their cat/dog/baby/plant, “I wonder when Michelle is going to share that ‘next chapter’ she referenced 1700 words into a post I skimmed just to get to the pictures six months ago when we thought the world was about to right itself and it was still exciting to have hope.”

Well…I can’t take the pressure of writing this all perfectly any longer: We have moved.

What if this ended there? Roll credits. That’s a joke I will always love to deliver or receive when watching some mediocre movie that has clearly reached its plot high point within the first 7-13 minutes. Because those are the moments that you know that it would be best to turn the film off, instead of wasting another minute of your only nonrenewable resource – that ever-running clock ticking down in the background, easily shedding seconds you will never get back. 

However, we rarely turn it off. We watch another two hours to confirm that yes, indeed, it would have been a better story, a better use of creativity for all involved, to roll credits when you called it. 

But, in this case, I will try to take you a little further than regret if not all the way to that was an okay use of time if you stick with me just for a little while longer.

Moved to Texas, Site Unseen

We moved to a brand new state – Texas – from a state we barely got a chance to know – Arkansas – after living in very different places for the previous decade. If you haven’t moved in a while, it is easy to glance over all of this. You will have been better off rolling credits at “we have moved” and simply made note that we have a new address. (USPS, if you’re reading this, that’s truly all I want from you. Please actually forward our mail like you said you would.)

But what gets lost in a sentence like we have moved are all the pieces that actually matter. What of friends? Jobs? Understandings of where things are in your grocery store? Newlywed bliss wrapped in COVID angst and political division? And what of history? What of a constant wondering if times are as bad as they feel or if they’re always this bad and you’re only now noticing it because you’re in your thirties, nomads trying to take root, now with a mortgage and so many questions about how to get grass to grow in the shade any why doesn’t the garage have an outlet on every wall, because you now care about those things more than you ever thought you could.

And that brings me to the other slice of this pie (writing hungry): We moved to a brand new state, from a state we barely got a chance to know, and we bought a house, y’all. And not only did we buy a house, but we bought that house site-unseen (although site-was-viewed-via-facetime-with-our-realtor). Because that’s how this move and this market and these years have been.

If we have learned anything – or, I should say, if we have adopted any way to deal with this post 2019 life – it is to jump in, start swimming, and figure it out later. Does this lend itself to an inevitable drowning metaphor? I think it’s too early to call it, but it is certainly a possibility.

Here’s the uplift: owning and crafting a home with a new husband is fun. It is a lot of work; it is bleeding money you were so proud you didn’t spend in the initial purchase of the home that you had no idea you would instead just give to Lowe’s and Home Depot; and it is a lesson in how two people can approach every single project completely differently (and still believe in their heart of hearts that they are 100% right in their approach). 

I’m sincere though when I say it’s truly been fun, and we are enjoying being in our home even more now that our kitchen is just about complete (because we decided to remodel our home immediately upon buying (and put those new vows to the true test!)). We are quickly learning who knows what they’re doing, and who didn’t realize you can’t grab the sides of a live outlet to show your husband that it’s not straight. 

But y’all, we are tired.

New Professional Paths Ahead

There’s a guilt that comes with our exhaustion – we aren’t parents, we have an easier life than most, we both have well-paying and mentally-stimulating jobs – but the body doesn’t measure its own exhaustion by the standards or circumstances of another. It is individualistic that way, selfish even. Each of us has our own red-lines, and I’ve been approaching mine for a while now.

My husband and I are both on edges of professional precipices of sorts — his designed to fuel a higher path upward and mine a leap into the great not-quite-unknown-but-pretty-close-all-things-considered.

While our move to the Houston area (or, as I like to call it, the place where traffic lives) was predicated by his job, it also serves as a welcome opportunity to to launch the next exciting phase of mine. I have been fortunate enough to stay with my current employer through our transition to Houston, working remotely from home and flying back and forth to Little Rock as needed, but with the dawn of 2022, I will be making a professional change that I’ve talked about for much of the last decade. More details will be available soon (or in six months in a rambling blog of mixed metaphors), but the gist of it is that I’ll finally be able to live up to my “writer, graphic designer, editor” tagline.

Those who know me from my creative life see this as the win I know it to be. Those who know me from my professional roles are very, very confused. Our family is a little split down the middle. But for the first time in my life, I feel like I won’t be.

The Future and My Work at Michelle Junot

In August, I marked 10 years since the day I started this blog. That first post – or second post as it were – was consumed with organization and purpose. And while so much has changed since then, a lot really hasn’t. I’m still sorting through the many aspects of myself and my identity and how to let words shape those or let those shape my words or maybe all of the above. (And one of these days, I really hope to find one website design and stick with it!)

When I got married, I happily changed my last name – a custom that I appreciate both as a lover of tradition and of symbolism. (I also support it for its many design and grammar benefits, but that’s harder to explain unless you regularly proof and copy edit donor listings like I do.) However, although this change was full of joy for me, I would be lying if I said it didn’t come with a host of emotions, especially considering the body of work I’ve built as Michelle Junot. 

Deciding to keep writing under my maiden name has been a logistical decision, but also a deeply intentional and personal one. Relatedly, since writing and publishing Notes From My Phone*, I have struggled with the ways inviting readers into those personal aspects of my life reshaped existing relationships and curbed potential ones. Although I remain proud of that body of work (and believe you should read it if you haven’t), the release and subsequent tour of that book affected my writing voice in ways I’m only now starting to recover from. That’s an essay all unto itself that seems finally willing to start breaking free from its egg. 

All of these juxtapositions – my organization-craving and definition-making personality paired with a lens that ever leans to similarities and overlaps…a welcome name change and identity expansion that my soul has longed for but that has also come with nagging questions about the girl I once was and what happens to her now…and a passion for writing that is so intense that it strangles sleep and friendship when it’s stalled yet the experiences that have profoundly altered my voice, my boldness, my confidence in approaching the page linger…all these things I am working through, and I’m eager to share with you, if only to get it all out of my 3am-wide-awake-yet-utterly-exhausted-mind.

If you read my post from about a year ago titled, “ Falling Back Into the Habit,” you might remember that I promised new styles of writing and sister blogs. Those are still happening – we really have been busy with our 27 wedding celebrations and moving to a new state. I’m still excited about those projects, and I hope one of them will speak to you. (I feel as though I can easily promise a lot of dog and cat content if you’re into that.)

And for those that care about our personal life – or what we would put on Facebook if I didn’t hate it with every atom in my body – we’re turning our ever-faithful wedding website into a family blog. It will be unapologetically non-literary. It will be about our animals and our house remodel and the kind of content in which I’ll even call my husband by his name instead of constantly referring to him just as “my husband” (which is no doubt irking some of you out there. I’d judge it too, if this wasn’t my own blog, and it wasn’t intentional). 

So that’s it. That’s the grand reveal. We’re Texans now (talk about issues with an identity crisis), and I’m about to jump into the deep end of a decade’s dream. Maybe I’ll sink. Maybe I’ll swim. Undoubtedly I will feel like I am drowning at times. But whatever happens, I feel certain it’s not time to roll the credits yet. This is a story you want to see through. This is a story I want to see through. Because that unapologetic, ever-running clock is always ticking in the background, and I can’t bear to shed anymore seconds not heeding who I believe I’m actually meant to be.