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KUNR Youth Media

Looking Back: Moving Across The Country As Newlyweds

A scan of an old photo with Terri Meister sitting on a rocky ledge. Behind her is a reddish-purple, steep canyon with a flat top.
Courtesy of Sirguy Kaopio
Terri Meister (photographed above) and Sirguy Kaopio moved from Chicago to San Francisco after getting married in the late ’90s. They stopped at the Grand Canyon National Park during their trip on Nov. 12, 1998.";

KUNR Youth Media reporter Wesley Kaopio and his family have lived in Reno for about five years. Before Wesley was born, however, his parents uprooted their lives and moved from Chicago to San Francisco. In this conversation, Wesley interviews his mom, Terri Meister, about her decision to make a big move out West as a newlywed in the late ’90s.

Wesley Kaopio: It’s been a long while since you guys moved to California, like, before I was even born. So, I was wondering, what prompted you guys to even consider moving, especially such a long-distance away?

Terri Meister: I was getting to the point of ending college and graduating. I had graduated or was about to graduate at that time, actually. Then your father and I were kind of looking at our future, looking where we wanted to be, and all of that kind of stuff. And I was legit home one day, home sick from work, and I had always kind of had this romantic fantasy about San Francisco; moving there, living there, being in California, but not in Southern California and Northern California. So, he came home one day from work, and I just winged it and just took a shot and said, “What do you think about moving to San Francisco?” And he said, looking at me very [suspiciously], “Really? Well, if we move to San Francisco, we’ve got to get married first.” So, we planned our marriage, our wedding and a move. At that point, it ended up being about a month and a half.

Kaopio: That is quicker than I thought. So, why California? I mean, why did you guys decide to move to California?

Well, I had always grown up in the Chicago area. I grew up in Lockport, Illinois, and then went to college in downtown Chicago. I lived in Lincoln Park, met your dad basically right before my senior year of high school, and we got engaged when I was really young.

I had been to LA because your dad is from LA. And I kind of saw, just the California scene, you know, the mountains and the beaches. San Francisco seemed like such a, almost a wonderland, just such a different experience from the Midwest — completely. And he loved living in LA but wanted to go somewhere new, away from his family, away from my family, so San Francisco was it.

Kaopio: I’m glad you guys picked California. It was a pretty nice place, despite its flaws. So, because of the gravity of this trip, and you know, you moving so far, how much was your family affected by it?

Meister: They had to see me as an independent entity and not someone that they can call and would drop everything at a moment’s notice anymore. I was growing. I had my own life. I had my own things to deal with. They started to realize that more and realize how much I needed to grow and be my own person, rather than be entrenched in what their lives were about.

Kaopio: It’s nice to know how positive this trip was for you. So, in the entirety of your very long trip, what would you say was the most amazing or influential thing you guys experienced?

Meister: Oh, we definitely experienced some things. We had our frustrations, you know, it was us and the three cats. We had three cats at the time. So us, three cats, a huge U-Haul and a trailer in the back with our car attached to it, going all the way from Chicago to San Francisco was definitely an adventure.

But I have to honestly say the most poignant moment was when we actually stopped at the Grand Canyon. We stopped there and just took a breath. It was almost like breathing in our new life. There was even a condor that stopped in front of our truck and spread its wings, the full length of the two-lane road that we were on, and it was just, it was almost welcoming. You know what I mean? It was definitely the highlight of our whole trip.

Kaopio: Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. And, again, thank you for letting me interview you.

Meister: You’re very welcome.

Wesley Kaopio is a junior at Earl Wooster High School in Reno. KUNR’s Youth Media program is a special partnership with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists.

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