I filed my taxes from 2015 sometime last year because I’m irresponsible and don’t like to be bothered.
I filed these along with my 2016 taxes, and for the first time, mailed them in instead of e-filing because I got a good deal on getting them professionally prepared. Too many weeks passed after I mailed them, and around the same time that I started worrying about the whereabouts of my returns, I got a letter saying that the IRS needed me to verify my identity before they could give me the money back from the 2015 return. The issue was that I had been at too many addresses in the past few years and they needed me to prove that I was who I claimed I was.
That brings me to my question: why is it so weird to move?
Not just in the eyes of the IRS, but in fact, most people I talk to think it’s wild that my now-husband/then-fiance and I have moved to a few different states in the past five years in search of better opportunities. We’re in our late twenties and early thirties, have no kids other than a cat who thinks I gave birth to him, and we just wanted to be able to live comfortably, which wasn’t really an option in California where we grew up.
When paying our rent in California became an issue for us, we moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, a small college town where my husband lost a gross amount of money in a “business opportunity” masquerading as an insurance company while I worked part-time at Barnes & Noble. From there, we moved to Denver when he found a seemingly better insurance agency opportunity, which also eventually turned into a money drain for leads. Defeated, we moved to Colorado Springs where he was offered a property manager position through a temp agency and was promised a permanent role, but they ended up giving the job to an internal candidate at the last minute.
We even started a courier and mobile notary service there and we were almost making it work, but then our rent was raised, and we realized we were running out of opportunities and funds. This time, we moved to one of the cheapest areas of the country, to a small nothing-of-a-town called East Cape Girardeau in Southern Illinois per my father-in-law’s suggestion. For the first few months, the only work we could find was cleaning a strip club before business hours.
Eventually, I became a manager at Barnes & Noble. After two years, my husband’s family friend offered him a well-paying sales role at a new company he was purchasing back in California so I applied for a transfer at my job, and the day we packed up the moving truck, the family friend called and said the deal hadn’t gone through and there would be no business or work for my husband when we arrived.
So, yes, we’re back where we started (my husband has gotten a decent job since then), but can you blame us for leaving those situations? If we had stayed in any of them longer than we did, I’m confident we would have hit rock bottom. Our mobility has kept us from total defeat.
We followed our opportunities, moving to more and more affordable places each time. We didn’t necessarily want to move every time we did, but we did it because we refused to give up on finding something better. (By the way, if our story isn’t proof that “millennials” aren’t doing everything they can to make things work, I don’t know what is.) If anything, it seems unnatural to stay in one place for years and years, unhappy and unfulfilled.
But now, here we are after all of that and we get the sense that people think we’re flighty for not “settling down” yet. Our moving around has also been a red flag for potential employers. “Why have you relocated so frequently? How do I know you won’t leave us, too?”
The honest answer to those questions is that we want success so fervently that we will do whatever it takes to have it, including uprooting ourselves from state to state to create it, which actually makes us more qualified for any job we apply for than anyone who expects a great job to fall in their lap while they’re sitting at home five minutes away from the neighborhood they grew up in, unwilling to withstand any discomfort of looking elsewhere when it doesn’t come.
And as for how you’ll know that we won’t leave you? Pay us a living wage and make it worth our forty hours a week with some healthcare and paid time off once we earn it, and we won’t leave you.
To me, we’re living life. If how many addresses I’ve had seems strange, well, it sounds to me like maybe that’s just another way to compartmentalize my experience so that others don’t actually have to take the time to get to know me.
Life isn’t meant to be lived in a box (even though that statement comes straight out of a box, neatly packaged with a nice little bow to give to anyone having a hard time). It’s okay to move. It’s okay to leave everything you know behind to see if something better is out there.
What’s weird is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping something turns out differently. What’s weird is being given one life to live and thinking your little neighborhood is going to give you everything life has to offer. There is nothing linear about the human experience, and we need to stop trying to bang it into such a shape before we’re happy.
So, go be weird like us and move away. Just make a copy of your taxes when you do it or else you won’t be able to identify yourself when the IRS finds out.