In just under two years, Texas native Amanda Larsen moved for her job twice.
First, she was asked if she’d like to relocate roughly 1,400 miles east from Houston, Texas, to Maryland. She did. Then, about 18 months later, her company asked her if she’d like to pick up again, and this time move 250 miles north to Long Island.
But she and her husband, Christopher Larsen, who is originally from Wisconsin, didn’t mind. In fact, they thought the LI offer was a sign: The couple had been going through infertility treatments and had plans to visit an IVF clinic in upstate New York before the offer even materialized.
“We always are saying, ‘Trust your journey,’ ” said Amanda, 32, who now lives in West Islip. “That’s me and my husband’s saying. … Each time we were about to take a leap, that’s what we thought.”
So they settled into an apartment in a North Babylon home in the spring of 2017. They were happy to be closer to the IVF clinic in Syracuse, but delayed going for the treatment while getting used to the area.
A few months into living on Long Island, the couple was met with a surprise: a positive pregnancy test before the IVF even began.
Seven months later, Katherine Kayleigh-Anna Larsen was born. That’s when the couple knew Long Island was home.
“We had to be in the right spot, we had to be settled in our lives. We had to be in a place where we could put down some roots,” said Christopher, 50. “Now we have Long Island roots.”
“We have a baby who is New York through and through,” Amanda said.
The journey to Long Island started in 2015, when Amanda was offered to relocate her job from Houston to Maryland as a certified optician for VSP Global. Originally from Nederland, Texas — a city of about 17,000 with hot summers and little snow — she said many people she grew up with likely still live in or around her hometown, but she was looking for more outside of Texas.
“In Texas, if you drive for four hours, guess what? You’re still in Texas,” she said. “Here, you drive for four hours and you’re in four different states.”
The couple met online and Christopher moved to be with Amanda just outside Annapolis, Maryland, where they got married in October 2016. She had always wanted to be a mom, and they began infertility treatments there. Months later, the offer came to relocate to Long Island.
Amanda now works in VSP Global’s Melville location as an inventory specialist. Most of their family is in Texas or Wisconsin, but they have built friendships through work, her daughter’s day care and through social media, she said.
The family now regularly visits Wally's Bagels in North Babylon and Hometown Heroes in West Islip, and have found go-to pizza places and bakeries. They also like being near LI and New York City historical sites, and the diversity in the area.
Christopher, who now works in human resources and recruiting, became an instant Mets fan. He says it was a natural fit since he grew up disliking the Yankees while pulling for the Milwaukee Brewers.
While Christopher didn’t need to get used to snow hailing from Wisconsin, Amanda enjoys it — and even put “Anna” in Katherine’s middle name, inspired by the main character in the movie “Frozen.”
But moving to Long Island didn’t come without concerns. Amanda had only been to New York one other time before moving here, and the couple worried about the higher cost of living and the property taxes. They were relieved when they initially found a reasonably priced place to rent on Craigslist within a few days of looking, but said they would like to eventually buy a home one day.
While Amanda says she’s not planning to return to Texas and her husband doesn’t see them relocating from LI anytime soon, she still misses some aspects of Texas — specifically the cuisine.
But she found one restaurant during her pregnancy — Pancho Villa’s II in Huntington Station — that she realized matched her hometown Tex-Mex taste.
“I’m sitting there eating, and all of a sudden, I started crying,” she said.
The owner came over and asked the couple if everything was OK. Her husband replied, “It’s fine. She said, ‘This tastes like home.’”
Newsday is looking for Long Island residents who have moved here from another part of the country or the world. Do you have a story to share about making LI your home? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.