On Moving Across the Country and Being Content
When I got the email, I knew I didn’t really have a choice. I was growing bored of my small college town and the fear of remaining there forever was stronger than ever as all of the people around me were graduating. I hated that I had already stayed this long after my own graduation. I was feeling stagnant; I was getting restless. I loved everything about my life as it was, except for the fact that there was no way it would stay that way. I had the urge to leave before everyone else did.
Naturally, I had applied for a job that was located as far west as I could possibly go: 2,500 miles to the San Francisco Bay... where I happened to have a friend with an open room.
I got the email on my 23rd birthday. My best friend had brought me to the middle of a field in my favorite park, and we unrolled a blanket and ate cheese and fruit and drank wine from boxes. I knew I would be getting the news–good or bad–that day. And despite the beautiful scene, I was bursting with anxiety. I wondered how I could want something so bad, but also not want it at all.
Mid-sip, my phone buzzed: “Hi Hannah, I’m excited to tell you that we would like to offer you…"
There it was. I got the job.
It all set in. A wave of relief coupled with a wave of terror washed over me. I immediately wanted to throw up. It would not be long before I had to leave the coffee shop community I had fallen in love with; it would not be long before I had to leave my family that I’ve never really been far from; it would not be long before I had to leave the man that possessed my heart. Despite the panic that quickly consumed me, I semi-reluctantly cleaned out the bedroom of my large Kent apartment and two weeks later, loaded my 2013 Honda Civic to the brim.
Soon we were on the road: me, my best friend, and our carefully mapped route. We started our four-day journey across the United States. The ride was filled with laughter, singing, high spirits and snacks. I could have stayed in that car with her forever.
But somewhere around the California state line, the exuberance that had held on to me so tightly quickly wore thin. I began to acknowledge the fact that soon I would have to take my beloved best friend to the airport, and send her back to our cozy Kent apartment that I would never again enter.
I’m a big believer in displacement and change and personal growth, but for the first few weeks of being here on my own, I felt ill with homesickness. And instead of enjoying this new, exciting life, I was fixated on my past. I felt like I made a huge mistake. To make matters worse, not long after I arrived, my sweet boyfriend called to tell me he was no longer interested in putting his efforts into staying in my life. Although it crushed me, I didn’t really expect much else. It’s not like we had made plans to see each other again.
My mind immediately became occupied with escape plans to get me back home or valid excuses to make another huge move alone to someplace else. I was craving that feeling of being on my way to somewhere new and exciting. It wasn’t until my mom advised me to “just do it, leave, come home” that I realized that’s not what I really wanted. The restlessness I was feeling strongly resembled the discontent I was feeling back home.
I went into this whole thing expecting to grow. I chose to dramatically displace myself because I thought I would become a better person from it. I thought it would solve my problems. I thought I would immediately have some epiphany that would bring me some insight about my place in this world. Only now am I realizing that I do need a change, but perhaps not geographically. I’m learning that my only real chance at happiness is to find content with what I already have and where I already am.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]