If you know me, this might sound redundant... My wife, daughter, and I had to pack up our house -- our lives -- within 48 hours to move to another country.
If you follow me on Instagram (@dylanennis31), you would see recent pictures of me and my family loving Monaco, the country I played in a week ago. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited in my life -- and we got to live there. I would wake up and look out from my balcony to see mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. On my drive to practice, I would pass Rolls Royces, Mercedes Benzes, Lambourginis. Range Rovers are a middle class car in Monaco. From the fancy restaurants to the yacht shows, living in Monaco didn’t seem real. It was like a fantasy world. But sometimes fantasies don’t let you see what reality really is...
I thought living and playing in Monaco would be everything I’d ever dreamed of. I was getting great money that I worked hard for; the country was beautiful, and...I guess that was it.
As a person and as a player, I wasn’t fully happy. That’s not a knock on the organization I played for. I guess it was just the wrong fit for me as a player at this stage in my career. My wife enjoyed it as well, but didn’t love it. With my team’s rigid schedule, I was gone from my wife and daughter for 70% of the time I spent in Monaco from August to November. That’s not an exaggeration. I did not complain about it because that is part of the profession.
As a husband and a father, however, I felt guilty being away from them for that long. I felt like I put all the weight of raising our first born on my wife and I felt that my daughter didn’t get the bonding time with her father that she truly deserved. It wasn’t the team that made me unhappy, but rather the internal, emotional battle I was dealing with being a first-time father and a professional athlete.
On November 11, my agent told me that it was time to pack my bags, because I would be moving to Spain -- Zaragoza to be exact -- to play the remainder of the season. Was I was happy to go back to a team I played for in the past? Yes. Was I a little angry that my team in Monaco parted ways with me so quickly ways? Of course. Did I have anxiety about moving my family to another country less than halfway through the season? Who wouldn’t? But my wife and I have done this before. We were ready for this. A new, fresh start. Ready to put the past behind us. Pack up the house and go!
But wait. This time was different.
The last time we left, we didn’t have a seven month old daughter with us.
When I tell you I don’t worry about myself, I’m telling the truth. I have suffered from depression, dealt with anxiety. But because I have gone through all that, because I have felt the pressure of life I feel like I am better able to deal with it. When it comes to my family -- man, oh man -- I can have nine knives in my back, a spear in my head, and an anchor shackled to my ankle and I will still walk and act like nothing is wrong. My wife and my daughter are my world. I cannot put in words how much they mean to me. So this move did not bother me one bit, I worried about them the whole time.
When my wife and I talked about it, she was ready to go.
(Side note: if you ever need a professional packer, my wife is like the master tetris player. No matter how much stuff you have, no matter how many boxes it all needs to fit in, she will find a way!)
Whenever we have to pack up, my wife won’t let me touch a thing. She has her own way of getting it done. This time around she said to me, “Dylan, hold the baby and let me get this done.”
And that’s exactly what she did. She packed up the house in Monaco so fast I couldn’t believe it.
Packing up and flying to a new country wasn't the hard part, it was everything else.
For me, it meant I would have to learn a new playbook, create new bonds with my teammates, and re-establish myself as a player that can adapt to a new team. (And try to find a new barber to cut my hair. In Europe finding a barber who can cut a black man's hair is a rare feat...just being honest).
For my wife, it meant having to meet new friends to spend time with while I’m away, finding new places to visit and entertain herself during my road trips. (And also finding a new hair and nail salon, too.)
And although my daughter is just seven months and may not understand everything that is going on, it meant her world was changing too. She can feel the difference in environment, the different routines we have, the different pace we move at. She is a baby, but she has adjusting to do, too.
We have been in Spain for a week now and I love my new team. It is a situation that is ideal for my personality as well as my career as a basketball player. Yet, it is still a work in progress. My wife is dealing with being in a hotel until our furniture arrives at the new apartment. When you a professional athlete and switch teams during the year, no matter what sport or level you play at, the new organization has to situate you in a hotel for a certain amount of time. Having a fully furnished apartment right away is nearly impossible to walk right into. I can’t say she has been thrilled about it, but she’s doing an amazing job at “making it work.” My new team is working as fast as they can to get us moved in and I thank them for that!
As far as my little one, I can’t tell you how proud I am of her. She has been the most amazing baby a parent can ask for. Yeah, I know she’s only seven months, but when I tell you she’s killing the game, SHE’S KILLING THE GAME. She has her times when she cries (as all babies do), but 98% of the time she's smiling and laughing.
Seeing that as a father makes this all worth it. I know I might say it a lot, but I really do feel guilty for putting my daughter and wife through these moves. Yes, I make career decisions to benefit my family’s future -- to give them a life they want. But I don’t ever want them to feel out of place or off balance because of me. Knowing this was best for all of us is the thing that helps me sleep at night.
This move is still in the transition stage. We are still finding our legs as a family. The two girls I have been traveling around the world with me give me so much strength, so much purpose in this world. They keep me going, wherever that may be.
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