Posted by Howard on Saturday, April 13, 2019


(I’ve been sitting on writing this post for a while now because there have been quite a few different pices of the puzzle all up in the air and I’ve been waiting for at least a few of them to land. I now have enough clarity to go ahead with sharing.)


In short, our time in the Pacific Northwest is coming to a close this summer. We moved here a little over 13 years ago when I started working at Microsoft, and I very much consider this place and its people home. It is an understatement to say that the thought of moving is bitter-sweet. However, changes happen and some specific changes will be causing us to relocate this summer to Austin, TX.

Changes? What Changes?

Prior to moving out here, we lived in Houston, TX, which is uncoincidentally the place where I grew up and where my family resides. Even as of about 5 years ago, we had started thinking about moving closer to my parents in order to help take care of them as they grew older. (Selfishly, we also didn’t mind the thought of having some family in closer proximity to watch the kids so that we could go out without having to spend a small fortune on babysitters.) We looked at a couple different options in Houston and in Austin, but a clear opportunity never really presented itself.

Then in 2014, my mom died suddenly.

Aside from the overall trauma of losing her, her death started raising the urgency of moving closer to family as my dad was now starting the process of figuring out how to navigate life by himself. Not to suggest that he wasn’t capable of figuring things out by himself, but I’m sure you can imagine that there were a large number of things that he didn’t even know he didn’t know how to do because my mom had always just taken care of it. At this point, our focus was more concrete, but still longer term: we bought ranch land just outside of Austin and started planning to build a house for my dad and a house for us on the land as soon as the kids had graduated from high school - roughly a 10 year plan.

However, over the past year, my dad has had a couple health scares which have further increased our sense of urgency to be closer. In part, we want to be there to help take care of him, but I also just want for him to have a more real relationship with the kids than is possible when seeing them a couple times a year. As such, this past fall we started evaluating in earnest what we would need to have lined up in order for us to make a move. The list was daunting: house, school, job for my spouse, job for me - and clarity on all of these things within a few short months, since we would need to make a decision in time to let our current school know whether or not we would be returning next year.

Validation / Confirmation

Like I mentioned, in order for us to be able to feel comfortable making this move, a lot of pieces needed to come together - and come together they did: from the kids all getting into a school very similar to our current school, to my wife getting a job teaching at that same school, to finding a house within walking distance of the school. The month of March basically felt like dominoes falling, one after the other, each adding one more word of confirmation that we were right where we were supposed to be. As for my job, I will stay at SAP Concur where my role has recently changed to managing a globally-distributed team of architects charged with helping to craft a future architectural vision and drive it across a large portion of the development teams. In a lot of ways, being in Austin is actually an advantage: my boss is in MN and my team is spread out between WA, MN, London and Paris. That extra 2 hours might just help keep me sane.

Looking Towards the Future

In some ways, this next season of life will be harder than this season that is closing. My kids will become teenagers. My dad, despite all of our best efforts, will continue to get older. For that matter, my wife and I will continue to get older. I will very much miss our community here in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, I feel optimistic about our future: I look forward to spending more time with my dad and for our kids getting to know him better; I look forward to learning more about agriculture; and I very much look forward to easy access to amazing barbecue and Mexican food.

I’ll probably write a few lines of code in the process too :)