Moving to a new city by myself is the strangest thing I have ever experienced.
I grew up and lived my whole life knowing the sun and the ocean would be right outside my door.
I knew what bars had the best deals, what hole in the wall places served the best tacos and which spots I could sit in when I needed some clarity, but most importantly I had a social group that knew me and accepted all the weirdness that I entailed.
Memories decorated my home.
I left that all behind. I left in a sort of frenzy. I had hit my tenth quarter life crisis in a span of 2 years and comfort began to feel a lot like suffocating at the hands of routine.
I felt trapped and stagnant.
My little beach studio began to feel like a jail.
Despite the love around me, my mind would not stop tantalizing me with the idea that there was more out there.
I got restless in the places and things I had worn out and if I hadn’t just picked up and left (leapt), then I would have stayed and wondered forever about this possibility of more that plagued me and interrupted my comfort.
So, I packed up everything that I could, (which is hard when you are kind of a hoarder), packed it in my car and began a year of transition and confusion. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, because I didn’t really know where I wanted to be. I sort of just picked a place and went there.
I had exactly three friends in this new city, but they were more like acquaintances, so I figured I would have to be okay with being alone for a while.
However, it wasn’t lonely. It was the opposite. I happened upon a great group of people immediately after moving into my new house, I got a job the first day and a boyfriend that came straight to my front door.
The fantasy of this “more” had come true and it further validated my decision.
What I soon realized is that fantasies don’t last. Life isn’t different in a new city.
It doesn’t stop from taking it’s twists and turns.
The difference is that when I hit my first bad day in this new city, I wasn’t exactly sure where to go. The places I knew that brought me comfort were not nearby, the ocean was not there to soothe me to sleep and my best friends were not there with a bottle of vodka to cheer me up when I fell apart.
Moving to a new city felt like I was taking everything I thought I knew about myself and questioning it. Challenging it. And then seeing if I could rise to the occasion by adapting to my new surroundings.
Home sickness is not a familiar feeling to me.
I am not necessarily attached to places or things, but I am attached to the people and moments that symbolize those things. This idea of home was a thing I had been struggling with as I found myself surrounded with people who have no history with me. I wasn’t yet sure whether it was safe to fall apart in their presence.
I had lost the job, and the boyfriend, and had hit yet another quarter life crisis. I questioned my move. Blamed the city. I began to romanticize what I had back home, only remembering how happy I was and forgetting that rough times happened there too.
I was still just struggling with this idea of something “more.”
I was just too afraid of laying down some roots, staying somewhere and calling it my home meant permanency in my head.
Permanency is scary.
Somehow I believed staying in a place that had caused me a moment of unhappiness meant staying unhappy forever. It meant being stuck with my wrong choice.
However, I now realize there is no wrong choice, there is only a decision. It’s not the place that makes me unhappy, but the fact that I let the hard times take away from all that I have in front of me which is so much more than the little upsets.
I wanted to go home, but I didn’t.
Home, I have come to realize, is more of a feeling. I seem to find home in the moments when I can breathe deeply and easily.
In the moments where my heart feels happy and can once again beat in comfort.
In the moments where my restless energy gets put to rest.
Home is the places where I can laugh or cry or go completely insane and still feel like I have a place at the table. Home can be found miles away from those that I love in a phone call that makes me feel like I am still right there at happy hour with them.
Home is right here with strangers kind enough to take me into their circle and call me a friend.
As I begin to settle in to this new city, I find home in my new roommate when she walks around topless and continues to have a conversation with me, leaving few secrets between us.
I found it in the boy I bought a bed from on craigslist when he hit on me with a sense of confidence and charisma that made me laugh and reminded me of the boys I grew up with.
I find it in my new friend who shares stories of her anxiety and in the vulnerability that bonds us together.
I find it as I sit next to the river when it creates the tiniest of waves and for just a second I can hear the ocean’s song vibrating through its current.
In these moments, I find more, more than I can dream of.
Home is in the moments that imprint on my heart and therefore, home can be anywhere, maybe even here.
Now I just have to find my favorite bars, the hole in the wall places with the best deals and create memories to keep forever.
Author: Yvette Alatorre
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Renée Picard