If you had been at the StorQuest on Sunset about a week ago, it might have seemed like any ordinary weekday mid-morning. The weather was nice, and the building was nearly empty. Had you gone into the basement, however, you would have heard 2 things: AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long,” and the sounds of my sobbing.
Yes, it had finally happen. I had finally achieved that true paramount moment of Twentysomething, crying in front of your storage unit before a big move. Our “stuff”— the life-things we’ve accrued over the years— often seem like they’ll be so easy to throw out. When I first started my relocation, I really did plan on pitching out most of the papers and pictures I had considered to be “sentimental.” What did I need them for? I had my memories. I was moving to paradise. I had already seemingly turned my face fully forward to the future. The past, especially in the past few months, had been tumultuous and occasionally frustrating. Why would I bother dwelling?
Yet, dwell I did. There’s something entirely sobering (in an unfortunately-“Eat, Pray, Love” sort of way) that most of your life now fits into a tiny storage unit. I had spent 24 year s in Southern California, and the past seven of them in Los Angeles. What did I have to show for it? I was (temporarily) unemployed, single, and living in a tiny sublet in the middle of Silverlake that was mostly in still-boxed shambles. As I’ve mentioned in a number of posts before, I had gone from the girl with her life planned out to the detail (Los Angeles for life, marriage in the next 5 years after getting my PhD) to the girl shipping off to an island and deciding if she needed to keep the picture of her and her rebound-ex (she does not). The contents of my life had not only been wrapped and boxed, but now needed to be unpacked and sorted to decide whether or not they were worthwhile.
Now, for the most part, a lot of this process has been intensely gratifying and growing. There’s something about looking back onto your life and seeing how far you’ve come that’s great. However, when combined with the emotional stress and semi-guilt of leaving my family for the first time (which I was choosing to suppress and ignore, which is always a fantastic idea), leaving my friends behind, and the emotional charge of HATING PACKING AND UNPACKING AND REPACKING SO MUCH OH MY GOD, it added up to general dismay.
So, I looked into that dark storage unit, AC/DC blaring on a radio station through the speakers, and just broke down. I sobbed. Not even lady-like, quiet sobbing. No, I was at hyperventilating, am-I-having-a-panic-attack?-level sobbing. I buried my face in the crook of my arm and scurried away from the unit like it was a poisonous snake. My back hit the wall, and I slumped down, still sobbing. What was I doing? Everything and everyONE that I loved, and that actually loved me, that actually put up with my ridiculousness, was here in Southern California. Why was I moving 3,000 miles away to the middle of the Pacific Ocean?!
The guy that runs that StorQuest is a mid-30’s Latino man who served 2 tours in Europe. He’s been generally friendly and helpful, and nicknamed me “Tiny Terror” or just “Terror” as he’s seen me the past few weeks. Apparently when I called the unit I was so intent in my questioning that I “sounded like the baddest, most intense woman in need of storage,” but when he saw me he was amused that I was “so much smaller” than he expected (look, I’ve broken 5 feet finally, okay?).
He walked in, and stopped. “Terror? You okay?”
I shook my head, and took a few breaths. “No. Yes. Yes, I’m fine. I’m fine. It’s just… it’s just a lot I guess.”
He stood at the end of the hallway, giving me my space. “How much longer you have?”
“About a week,” I replied.
“Plenty of time,” he responded immediately. “Look, just take it a step at a time. That’s all you can do.”
I’ve been blessed to have a lot of really smart and amazing people come into my life. Especially in these past few years. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I continually count my blessings.
These past few days have been a flurry of tears, deep talks, and allowing relationships to not end, but change. My beautiful friend Amanda recently wrote about how moving, in a number of ways, can be cleansing. Yes, in some ways it could be a form of “running away” from our problems, but it can also be a way for us to look back and make sure we’re holding on to things that are really important to us. That, in letting them go, we see what they will blossom into.
I’ve spent the last few days (and especially the last 48 hours) worried that, perhaps, I made the decision to move out here too quickly. That in a flurry of “Oh-my-God-it’s-time-to-change,” I didn’t consider all that I was leaving behind. Saying good-bye to my friends and family, that fear became even more present.
On the plane ride over, though, I read something from C.S. Lewis that a friend had quoted (or “truncated,” perhaps) in a note to me:
“The only things we can keep are the things we freely give…what we try to keep for ourselves is just what we are sure to lose.”
That’s when it hit me: if I stayed in LA simply to stay close to friends or family, or to a life that I had created (but, perhaps, no longer was what I needed it to be), I would likely end up losing it. The feeling of confusion and desire for something new would likely push me to make choices I would regret; the attempt to find something to hold on to could see me push the things I loved most farther away.
So I closed my eyes and, with a heart filled with joyful love, breathed a sigh of gratitude and good-bye to my life as I had known it. A few minutes later, wheels touched ground in Oahu, and I looked out the window onto a certainly magnificent vista. The first thing that popped into my head? I swear, it was my my mother’s face, smiling, and my father’s voice, saying:
“Welcome home, kiddo.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, and then I smiled too.
3 Things I’m Hyped About
2 Posts I Want to/Wish I Could Write In The Next 4 Weeks
1 Strange Fact About Me
A little 3-2-1:
3 Things I Am Hyped About:
1) Holy crap. So much adventuring is happening this month: potential camping/wine tasting, art walks, dance parties, hiking, and just crossing things off the Bucket List by the gobs full. I’m just generally running through the next few weeks with a “I’ll either run so fast that I collapse or fly so idk let’s see what the fuck happens!” kind of mentality. It’s pretty epic.
2) Being/Trying to be generally body happy. I did the Blue Print Cleanse for 3 days last week, and while it didn’t necessarily blow my mind, it DID kickstart me back into healthier eating habits. I’m doing salads instead of craving fast food/in n’ out. I’m running more. My fantastic partner-in-adventuring Chris has even convinced me to cut out some dairy and drink almond milk (I scoffed, but I just enjoyed a bowl (or two) of frosted mini wheats with it). I’m feeling pretty hyped.
Helping with that? In a fit of I AM GOING TO LOVE MY BODY AND IDGAF I let the movers pack my scale, and have not been able to obsessively worry about my weight every morning like I used to. I do still have my tape measurer around, but my mood has drastically improved since I stopped worrying about the extra pound I may weigh this morning versus yesterday morning.
3) I’m moving to Hawai’i in a few weeks. I don’t really know what else I need beyond that.
2 Goals For The Week
1) Love the Crazy: This time is more-than-tumultuous. My tendency in these situations is normally to climb into my stress-bubble, push everyone away, and snarl at anyone that comes close. I desperately do NOT want to do that, as I have very little time left in this place and with some people here. I will try, try, try to keep a smile on my face and be positive during this time.
2) Take more pictures: I’m normally not good at this, as for some reason taking pictures of people (even not of myself) feels vain. I want to remember everyone’s beautiful faces though, so please, just deal with my temporary-tourist nature.
1 Thing That Is Less-Than-Awesome
1) Goodbyes. I am not at all ready for even the concept of saying goodbye to people. I know it’s not like I’m leaving Earth forever or something, but just imagine all the crying I will do when I say goodbye to people makes me start crying. I have a feeling my face is going to be puffy and swollen for the first few weeks of May, just recovering from the goodbye session of April.
Not Less-than-Awesome (because most of this IS AWESOME)
Things like this don’t happen to people like me.
That was what I thought as I hung up the phone Thursday evening. On the other line had been a Teach For America staff member, offering me a position as the Operations Associate and Assistant to the Executive Director.
Yes, folks, the “big news” I have been vaguely hinting about for the past month or so? The one where you
may have been probably have been annoyed and thinking SHUT UP AND SAY SOMETHING OR JUST DON’T OKAY JESUS? It’s that I have been applying for education positions throughout the nation. Including this one in Hawai’i.
So, long story short, you are likely correct in your assumption: I am moving to Honolulu in early May. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am.
When Shayna, the staff member who will also be managing me, told me, I was honestly speechless. Sometimes, I still am. It wasn’t an easy decision. As far as private corporations go, I currently work for a pretty solid one. I like the people I work with, the work is interesting enough, and, yes, the money you make in the private sector is…well…certainly different then what I made as a high school teacher.
As the past few months have worn on, though, some family and life things fell into place in a way that made me stop and think Wait, I could leave Los Angeles. Then, I started thinking about what I REALLY wanted to be doing in my life. Where was I going?
What’s next? is not only the title of this blog, but a question I try to ask myself as often as possible. While I’m young, I also know that life is short, and what I wanted was starting to become more and more clear. I like my job, but I’m not overwhelmingly excited about it. The people I was working with are nice, smart, funny, and dedicated… but I missed being really passionate and fired up about the work I was doing. The world needs change, education needs to be completely reformed, and I am young, excited and passionate about making that happen. So what am I doing to fix it?
I began poking around at what jumping back into the education sector might look like. After binging on cover letters and interviews (at one point I texted my beloved Stuti, “I didn’t think it was possible, but interviews have done it: I am so over talking about myself.”), I had some options. I was getting revved up. I had applied for and been excited about this position in Hawai’i, working with Teach For America, but after a week of waiting and not hearing, I assumed I was out of the running.
So you can imagine my surprise when Shayna, the Director of Talent, Strategy and Operations at TFA Hawai’i, started off our phone conversation with, “I’m really excited to chat with you this evening.”
This was not how I expected this conversation would go.
In a flurry of surprise and cautious (I had been talking myself out of this job for months, just to make myself feel better for not getting it), epic excitement, I talked through some of my thoughts about the offer with Shayna. I said I needed the weekend to decide: I had been offered another position here in Los Angeles, and was supposed to interview in San Francisco at the end of the month.
In what was an epic #firstworldproblem, I now had more than I was ready for, in the span of a few days. I immediately texted my family and close friends. I had shared with them that I had wanted this Hawaii job, but I had told them last week that I was likely not going to be moving to the islands. I needed some clarifying thought, and another set of eyes.
The first to call me was Jack.
Jack and I have been as functional in our break-up and transition into friendship as I think we were when we were together. We are (now) comfortable around each other. He’s dating a beautiful, equally-television-and-film-loving blonde from Boston, and I couldn’t be more happy for him and proud of all that he’s doing. I also have been epically happy to have someone back in my life that, frankly, probably knows me better than pretty much anyone in the world.
The minute I picked up the phone, there was silence. Then I said, “Oh. My. GOD.” Then, we just started laughing.
We talked. Knowing me as well as he does, Jack has become not only a great friend, but also an excellent thought-partner. We parsed through this decision. Then, he said something that really hit home.
“You know what we didn’t do after college?” he posited.
I knew immediately what he was going to say. “We didn’t adventure, did we?”
“No,” he admitted, “we didn’t adventure.”
With that, a huge smile crossed my face.
The more I spoke with people, the more the decision became clear. When else would I be in a place in my life where I could do this? Come Friday morning, I had made my choice. By Friday afternoon, I had emailed TFA Hawaii my acceptance, and shared the news with my close friends and family. The love immediately poured in.
I loved being a Teach For America corps member. Despite the struggles I had as a teacher, the jokes about our jargon, or the good-humored accusations about “drinking the Kool-aid” I got from others, I have always been so proud to be part of a movement I truly believe in. Every time I interacted with anyone interested in Teach For America, or even currently working in Teach For America, something always felt “right.” I felt like I was in my element, “like home,” (a similar feeling I had the first time I walked on the USC campus).
Now, as the opportunity presents itself for me to rejoin the Teach For America ohana (my welcome letter said this. The smile on my face when I read it was HUGE) as a staff member, I know what the right path is.
The fact that I get to rejoin and live in Hawai’i, one of my most beautiful places in the world that also happens to have family and friends in it? Just gravy on top of everything else (really epic, fantastic gravy though). I know I will be embarking on a huge, epic adventure: I will be moving out of Southern California for the first time in my life, and work at an organization I love, and do it in Honolulu.
I could not feel more blessed.
That’s been the guiding question, right? Well, I fly out of Los Angeles sometime between May 1-5. In the meantime, I have moved into a little pocket-of-a-room (with a private balcony, remember?) for the month. My 2-weeks notice is being given tomorrow. I am normally alternating between being so hyped I can barely speak, wrapped up sobbing in a blanket out of terror and anxiety at the thought of leaving my friends or, for the first time, living more than an hours-drive from my parents, and being blorft.
Anyway, let’s grab a drink (if you’re close by). Give me a hug. I will provide numerous opportunities to say goodbye to me, but all you have to do is shoot me an email or ask. While I can’t way to start on this new adventure, I am also immensely saddened to leave behind of the people I love. Of course, it’s never really goodbye. Aloha is both hello and goodbye, yes?
Anyway… let’s do this thing.
Tina Fey, Bossypants
This is exactly how I have responded to moving! (she says as she wakes up from a stress-induced nap…and self-narrates…)
OHMYGOD MOVING. I CAN’T WITH YOU. AND WHY AM I COMPLETELY SOBER DURING THIS PROCESS?! UGHHH!$&@#$&!*
Looking around the piles and chaos of my in-transit apartment (and life) three words came to mind:
Urges I Have Successfully Overcome While Packing:
Things I Have Consumed While Packing
Decisions I Have Made About “The Next Place”
A little 3-2-1 to start off the week:
3 Things Making Me Happy
1) HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders as far as life-changes. I know this is all vague, and I apologize (you could always ask), but I should (FINALLY!) be able to talk about it sometime in the next 2 weeks. Woo!
2) The cable is cancelled, the gas and electric are being shut off, and I’m off! I’ll be staying in a sublet for the month of April. While I’ll miss my old place, I’m psyched to save a little money and wake up to a new morning view.
3) Er, life is just crazy-busy in an epic and fantastic way. I’m back into running again (the LA Marathon seems to have cured my leg pains. This means 20-35 mile weeks again. woo!), I’m going out and getting to know new people, I’m going out and passing out on couches with people I already adore. It’s all just generally fantastic.
2 Things Bumming Me Out
1) I have to give my beloved cat Bingley to my neighbor. :( I loved getting to watch cat for about a year, but he’ll be happier with neighbor since I’ll be moving around so much.
2) In all the crazy-busy-ness of my life, I’ve kind of lost some of the balance I feel like I had found last month. Hoping to gain back a moment of zen or two sometime in the next two weeks (I did get it when I went to yoga last night… and got to hang upside down on ropes. Epic.).
1 Thing Getting Me Hyped
1) Travelling! Going to get to do (hopefully) a few weekend trips in the next few months. Woo!
(Also: spending more time with new people, spending more time with already-loves, getting to run on some new streets, and the fact that Chipotle has brown rice now. Woo!)