Home. One of the best words in the dictionary. It hums sweetly across my lips, transporting me back to a different time; a simpler time when I didn’t need to think twice about where exactly that was for me. Six years and countless cities later, the answer to that question is not so simple anymore.
I used to get so tied to places. Leaving for college was awful. I remember crying while riding my bike around all my favorite childhood places, realizing everything was about to change. Then, after a year of adjusting to college life, I never wanted to leave DC. I walked to the monuments and sat on the steps for an hour, staring out at the reflecting pool, wondering how the next chapter was going to unfold.
When it took me to New York City, I packed up my bags and uncovered a new iteration of my life. Long walks through Central Park, flag football nights, moseying around museums and neighborhoods. I made it my own, and started to get comfortable. But it was time to keep moving. I was unsatisfied. My home felt incomplete.
It’s been five months since I moved to Los Angeles and it’s everything I dreamed it would be and more. The weather, the nature, the balance, the chill. Healthy food on every corner. Millennial brands galore. Morning bike rides to work. The beach at my doorstep. With so much to love, I believed that this place gave me what I needed - to slow down, to be better to myself, to discover my passions - at a time when I needed it most. I never wanted to leave.
But it wasn’t just the place.
It was John. It was my family. It was me.
Putting in the work. Weeding through my past. Discovering my potential.
A few weeks ago, I had to make the decision to stay in Los Angeles or move… again. John is doing a PhD program in Seattle for the next five years. A move like this was always a possibility, but I failed to comprehend how quickly everything would unfold. Having just arrived in paradise, I was soaking up every second. Now, I had to think about leaving???
I put the decision off for the first few weeks, letting myself enjoy a new city and start my projects. Then, the questions started rolling in. John was asking, our families were asking, people at work were asking. I panicked. I was so happy in Los Angeles. It had everything I wanted - hikes, food, shopping, companies, and creative opportunities galore. Plus, I finally loved the work I was doing, and I was starting to feel at peace with myself. Selfishly, I didn’t want to give up my newfound momentum.
After some hemming and hawing, I convinced myself that staying in Los Angeles was the right decision, but my gut begged to differ. I thought about one time in particular where I visited my college after graduating. The novelty of walking across the front lawn was as magical as I always remembered, but it was an ephemeral magic. Looking around, I didn’t recognize anyone. Sure, the place remained unchanged and sentimental as ever, but the people that brought me joy and made it feel like home were no longer there.
Without John, Los Angeles is just a place. There’s no one to cruise up the PCH with on weekends. No one to come home to after work. No one to taste test my recipes. No one to bring me back down to earth or reassure me that everything is going to be okay. No one to experience the joys and hardships of your 20s. Okay, there are people out there, but they’re not John.
Two years ago, I chose a job over my relationship. I stand by that decision. It was the right choice for that particular time in my life. I had a chance to grow on my own, and I needed it. But now fate, hard work, and a lot of love has led us to a new chapter, and it’s one that we can’t fathom doing apart. So…
Seattle, here we come!
As hard as it is to leave a place that I’ve enjoyed so much, I can’t wait for what’s ahead. My time in Los Angeles has healed me in more ways than I could have ever imagined, and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to live somewhere that I always dreamed about. As John frequently reminds me, there’s healthy food, trendy companies, and fun spots to be found everywhere. AND YOU BEST BELIEVE I’LL FIND THEM. If you’re anything like me, your 20s will be filled with lots of new places, opportunities, and people to call home. Pursue them fiercely and listen to your gut.