Moving Home

Last month, my family and I moved back to Long Beach, CA, where I grew up, after 23 years living in the Bay Area. My wife and I made the decision after much deliberation - we loved our jobs, felt supported by our community, and lived walking distance to our kindergarten and preschool. What drew us to Southern California was our parents - and the intergenerational family that we would create back home.

Life transitions are real, and this one even more so when you leave your job, friends, and city all at once. How do you project manage the move? How do you say goodbye to colleagues and loved ones? How do you leave a community that has given you so much over 20+ years? Thankfully, the transition has been smooth, thanks in no small part to welcoming friends, JCC pool parties, and a newfound hobby of gardening in our backyard.

It’s a surreal experience to drive the streets you drove as a teenager. My childhood comes flooding back, and I’m reminded how lasting certain memories are - certain tastes, smells, twists and turns of the neighborhood.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned from this move…

  • Be flexible. At first we were going to hire movers and packers and outsource the whole thing. When my wife decided she wanted to Marie Kondo our place, we scrapped our original idea and purged, sold, and gave away much of our stuff. “Does this bring me joy?” became our mantra for a few weeks as we went through each room, box and drawer. That freed up space (and money) to find new keepsakes and furniture when we landed in Long Beach.

  • Share resources. Shortly before we moved, an old friend sent an email to his friends saying we were re-locating to Long Beach and asked what neighborhoods and schools would be ideal for our young family. With deep gratitude, we received several responses sharing what schools and streets they all lived on, and they opened their homes (and schools) to us immediately.

  • Find your family. This could be parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. We had an incredible support system in San Francisco. We spent countless hours creating our own Jewish Intentional Community in SF, sharing meals, holidays, babysitting, volunteering and Jewish learning together. And yet, we all went back to our house at the end of the day. In Long Beach, we’re a 10-minute drive to Nana and Zaydie, and nothing makes our boys happier than seeing them at the pool or going over to their house for bbq after school. Playing catch, golfing, painting in the backyard, these are the activities of summer that our boys will now get to do with their grandparents. I didn’t realize how having family so close would make me feel so much more at ease - the psychological safety we now feel is real.

I share this personal journey because we all have a similar story. We’ve all moved back home at some point in our lives. To some it might be a more metaphorical home. When you move home you feel a sense of nostalgia for the old days, yet with new loved ones and children in tow, it is different, better, but it’s still home. San Francisco was my home for many years, and yet when we would visit LA, I would always say “I’m going home” for the weekend. Now we’re home. It feels good. I see myself - my kids, my parents, my partner - in a different way. I understand more. I empathize more.

With the exception of one year back East for grad school, I’ve lived my entire adult life in the Bay Area. I used to cringe when thinking of moving back to SoCal, with its gnarly traffic, smog, and Hollywood pretense. Now I’m 40, living off Spring Street - the same street where I grew up. Perhaps it’s a symbol of rebirth, of growth, of another stage in our life cycle - where the mundane challenges of traffic, smog, and Hollywood have a different tenor now. This new chapter in my life has allowed me to take a fresh look at my work and bring an outside perspective to helping professional and volunteer leaders grow and thrive. As a thought partner, project manager and network weaver, I love gathering people and ideas together. Building on my nearly 20 years as a teacher, education entrepreneur and foundation professional, I aim to gather together good people doing great things for their communities and beyond. I hope to be a role model for my kids that the value of family, from generation to generation - l’dor v’dor - is worth the move.

Seth is Principal of GATHER Consulting, where he advises philanthropists and nonprofits on board culture, board governance, and leadership development. He is a fellow in Coro’s Lead LA cohort and on the board of Jewish Studio Project. You received this email because you and Seth have conversed about one or more of the following topics: nonprofit leadership, philanthropy, education and Jewish community.

Seth Linden