The Great Cross Country Move (Or: Our dog may be too fat for LA)

01 June 2012 by Published in: Events, Family Life 43 comments

As you pack up your life to move, you seem to have time for nothing else but inventory management. Your house smells of nothing but cardboard and packing tape, and you wonder why you’ve been using a knife to cut cheese for the past couple of years when you apparently had a whole set of specialized utensils for that purpose that you never bothered to take out of their package.

We’ve moved to LA from Connecticut, and while that may sound pretty far and pretty radical, we should remember that Liz is from Southern California, so this is a homecoming for her. We’re terribly excited to be here.

We love Connecticut, we love the people, we love New York. But we had some interesting opportunities in LA that we wanted to explore, so we didn’t really hesitate. We found a place out there, rented out our house to a lovely family, and started packing.

Now, it’s not often you get to move across country, so Liz and I figured we should turn it into a bit of an adventure. Since I was excited about it, I asked if I could plan it.

“Go crazy,” Liz said, distracted. So I did. I went crazy.

“Okay, here’s the plan,” I told Liz that night, sitting her down. “When the guys pack up all our stuff, I’m going to grab the kids and drive to Boston.”

“Why are you going to drive the kids to Boston?”

“Because there were cheap flights to San Diego from there,” I said. “I’m going to bring my mom with me, and we’re going to fly the kids to your mom in San Diego.”

“I’m not coming for this?”

“No – you’re going to get in the car and start driving west.”

“Huh,” she said, paying closer attention now.

“I figure I can get the kids to San Diego, drop them off with your mom and my mom, then hurry back to the airport and get the next flight back to Cleveland.” I could see Liz’s eyebrows furrow, and she began to pose the natural question, so I kept going. “I’m thinking that if you start driving west, you’ll make it to Cleveland. We’ll get there around the same time, you pick me up, and we keep on driving west.”

“I see,” she said.

“Then we drive west, get to Yellowstone, see some buffalo and stuff, and then I’m going to drop you off at an airport in Montana to fly the rest of the way to San Diego.”

“Where are you going to be?”

“I’m giving a commencement speech at the University of Great Falls in Montana, and I figure I’ll do that and then drive south to meet you in San Diego just in time to get the kids and drive up to LA to meet the truck with our stuff.”

Liz was silent for a moment, then nodded.

“I like it,” she said.

And that’s what happened, all of that. It was one of the best trips we’ve ever had, sitting next to each other and talking for hours on end.

It got me thinking a lot about relationships and partnerships and marriage. (We listened to a few sermons by the great Tim Keller on the topic as well, which informed my thinking a lot here.) And I realized that it would be easy to just chalk up that great adventure across country to great compatibility between us – but that would be selling it short.

On the surface, after all, Liz and I weren’t terribly compatible. Not really, anyway.

We had radically different political views, we had radically different faiths (she had it, I didn’t), she was an attorney in a big city with a huge network, I was in Nepal living with orphans.

But what we saw in each other – and certainly I saw in her – was somebody with whom I could build an amazing partnership, friendship, and family. At her core she was compassionate and adventurous and cared deeply about how other people felt, what they were going through. I loved that.

Both of us had had relationships before, of course, and I think we were probably both looking for people with whom we were “compatible” – sharing interests and backgrounds and activities. But those continued to fail because we hadn’t found a person who we were willing to stay with even when they changed, even when we changed. Because that’s going to happen. We’re going to change. We’re going to end up as different people. The superficial stuff goes away.

What stays, if all that goes away?

You learn to love each other better, to appreciate what the other person appreciates. You learn where their hurts are and where their triumphs are. You learn them, and you change because it’s no longer enough to be the best you can be. You want to bring out the best in them, too. And they want to do that for you.

That’s compatibility, and that’s love, and that’s why I know that LA is right for us. Because it was right for my wife, and when I saw it through her, when I saw what she saw, because I knew her so well, then I wanted it as badly as she did.

We’re home now, and there are fewer boxes, and the kids have settled into the sunshine, and our yellow lab Emma – a bit fatter after a month of holiday with friends – has just arrived by cargo and she’s settled in too and already found a tennis ball in the backyard. Her weight reminds me that everybody talks about how image conscious LA is, how I have to dress better and look better and all that stuff.

And maybe that’s true, but I’m not going on a diet unless our dog does, and unlike our dog, I don’t look like a baby hippo when I lie down.

I have loads of time to worry about all that. Right now I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful for my friends and hopefully the future friends who will want to hang out with me, which I plan to seek out using my Map of the Stars. But mostly I’m grateful that we arrived safe, that Liz and I had that time together, and whatever we end up doing here, knowing that we’ll be doing it together. What a gift that is.

Comments

  1. Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 7:06 am

    Thank you for such an authentic post! It is so true that it isn’t the “checklist” that makes a good relationship. Plus- you can’t go wrong with Tim Keller’s podcasts. 🙂

    Love your blog and loved you book! Good luck to you both in LA!

    Reply
    • Conor  –  Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 10:40 pm

      I know, Tim Keller. Smartest dude ever, right?

      Reply
  2. Liz
    Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 9:15 am

    I love this post. Beautiful stuff, love. And yes, Ems TOTALLY looks like a baby hippo. Family diet time.

    Reply
    • Conor  –  Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 10:40 pm

      We can all chase tennis balls!

      Reply
  3. Marie Guillas
    Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 9:38 am

    Conor, This was most inspiring! Tho’ I’ve never met you or Liz…I love you both. God bless.

    Reply
    • Conor  –  Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks Marie!

      Reply
  4. Michael Rosenkrantz
    Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Welcome to Los Angeles!

    Reply
    • Conor  –  Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Thanks Michael! We’re loving it!

      Reply
  5. Jenny
    Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Love this! So true!

    Reply
    • Conor  –  Sat 02nd Jun 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Jenny! Hope you and the fam are doing awesomely in NYC! We have to connect next time back!

      Reply
  6. Marcy Prager
    Sun 03rd Jun 2012 at 6:24 am

    Conor,
    For a young man, you’ve learned what most older people do not realize. I have been married for thirty-five years, and both of us have “changed” in many ways over the years. Throughout the changes, we have remained a family. Our history with our children has given us the structure which keeps us close. Our times alone help us to hear each other and understand one another.
    I “shared” your post on my Facebook and wrote this:

    This is not really about Conor’s “move.” It’s about moving forward in a relationship with the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with. Reflective and beautifully written, as always Conor!

    Reply
  7. Cathie
    Wed 06th Jun 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I really enjoyed reading it as well as your book Little Princes. Also listened to your speech while you were at the U of Calgary (my daughter also gave a speech). You are inspirational.
    Kelsey’s Mom

    Reply
  8. Amy
    Wed 13th Jun 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Fantastic post! I love how, despite what her furrowed brow implied, Liz listened as you detailed your crazy sounding plan for getting to LA and then agreed to it! You wrote some profound terrific things about compatibility and relationships that many people fail to learn in their lifetime.
    Glad your family is settled in CA and everyone sounds happy including the adorable, slightly chubbier Emma. I’m sure her new tennis ball will help her slim down!

    I reviewed your book, Little Princes, through TLC Book Tours several months ago and loved it and was touched and inspired by it and by so many of those amazing boys.
    Good luck to you in LA. Have fun!

    Reply
  9. Pat O'Brien
    Fri 15th Jun 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I am your mother-in-law’s first cousin and live in TN.
    I will be facilitating your book next week in our book club.
    Certainly enjoyed reading Little Princes. Good luck to you in CA. I remember when Susie and her family came to visit us in Westwood years ago. Pat

    Reply
  10. Darbee
    Sat 16th Jun 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I just finished reading your book. It was very interesting and inspiring and will be the subject of a local book club discussion. My son also works in a poverty-stricken 3rd world country. I will be visiting soon, not for the first time. I have to admit I get nervous about cleanliness issues around the kitchen. How did you learn to cope with others preparing/serving you food and not worry about getting sick? Thanks for all the work the 2 of you have done in helping children in our world. May your lives continue to be blessed so you may be a blessing. Soli deo gloria.

    Reply
  11. Wed 20th Jun 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Just finished your book and LOVED it. To say it was inspirational is the understatement of 2012. The best part is despite the many layers involved, you manage to keep things very real. The feelings you freely describe in the pages are things we all experience, fear, excitement, frustration, possibilities and happiness. You have found your purpose, and I’m so glad for you and your family (ies). Thank you both.

    Reply
  12. Esther
    Mon 25th Jun 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Connor – thank you for sharing your experiences in your book Little Princes… Such an open and authentic expression of the moving story story of so many lives, and your determination to care for these young ones is truly inspirational!! As an Aussie, living so far from the indignities these children have experienced, it is indeed humbling to know we can all make a difference in so many ways. Thank you and Liz for your ongoing efforts- may you all, including the gorgeous Emma, enjoy a fulfilling life in whatever you do, wherever you be. Continued success! ( have already asked my friends to support this organisation by buying your book!) Many Blessings to you both and your little family as you set out on this new path in LA! Esther

    Reply
  13. Brian Kelly
    Fri 20th Jul 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Conor-
    Thank you for sharing your story. “Little Princes” was an emotional roller coaster of a book, and your storytelling made me feel as if I were experiencing everything with you. One of my most memorable reads ever. Do you ever have any public events to share your story in the Los Angeles area?
    Many thanks,
    Brian Kelly

    Reply
  14. Thu 16th Aug 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Conor!
    I was lucky enough to be in Great Falls, MT for that commencement speech. How cool to hear the “behind the scenes” story to go with it. After your inspiring speech I bought your book-it was a pleasure to read and as been loaned out many times over to friends. Thank you for sharing this amazing adventure.

    Reply
  15. Mon 01st Oct 2012 at 10:57 pm

    That was really beautiful!! And thought provoking – I hope I have that kind of relationship one day.

    Reply
    • Alejandriitha  –  Fri 26th Feb 2016 at 5:41 am

      I have a wedding to be in in November, I’m a baimesdrid. When I was fitted for my dress I was 10 pounds lighter. I am TERRIFIED! I’m even talking to my husband about getting counseling because I just can’t remain in control of my choices. I don’t know what I’m going to do. It seems like if I was on an island for 30 I would have time to prep foods, eat well, exercise etc But the reality is I run my own business out of my home, I homeschool for 4 hours a day, I’m a wife to a husband who can eat anything and will not gain an ounce! And I’m on a fixed income and fixed time! I feel like I’m just drowning. I hope this CLN will help.

      Reply
  16. Wed 06th Mar 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Hi Mr. Grennan you came to my school to be an guess speaker and I just wanted to say that when you spoke you really made me wanna ask you will you ever write another book like that (little princess orphanage).

    Reply
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    I am Susie’s first cousin and lived in Wilton for 10 years. Currently we live in the Knoxville area. Loved Little Princess and our book club reviewed it last year. This must be an old blog because I thought Susie told me you were back in New Canaan?. Wherever you are, life sounds great for you and family. Enjoy wherever you and family are living. Your very distant cousin, Pat O’Brien

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