While I did pack a suitcase for a job interview across the country in a city where I knew exactly zero people and while I got that job, found a sublease, and started, living out of a suitcase within a week, I want to be honest.
Whenever people hear about the last year and a half of my life, they act like I did something either insane or miraculous. Mine is not a family that leaves one another. For most of my life, everyone I loved was within easy driving distance. So to leave was a big decision and risk. “You’re so brave! I could never do that,” people say to me.
Here’s the truth: I am not that brave; I just didn’t have time to think it through.
Sometimes you leap. A lot of adventures start that way. I leapt.
I had time to pack and get on a flight. That’s it. Once I got there, I had time to do the interview. Once I got the job, I had time to find a sublease. Once, I found a sublease, it was time to start work. And on it went. Basic needs met. In a way, my life became completely simplified. After signing my own lease, I needed a bed because…well, that’s what I needed. So that was my priority I couldn’t think about sheets because I didn’t have a mattress! I don’t really consider it bravery so much as the Big Guy not giving me anytime to hyperventilate.
That being said, I want to tell you the truth about some adventures. There will be moments that stop your heart in your chest because of their stunning beauty. There will be moments you know you will hold in your head for the rest of your life, so sacred you rarely speak of them. But adventures are not easy things. Inherently, adventures include difficulties, right?
Here is the truth about life’s adventures. At least in my own experience thus far.
1. There will be moments when you want to cry. There will be moments when you want to curl up in a tiny ball and wait for someone with loving arms to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of. But you are on adventure. If someone does take care of you, he or she certainly won’t take care of everything. That person will not be someone you expect or are used to. It takes humility to accept help from this stranger. They didn’t give birth to you. Or maybe no one shows up. You have to pick yourself up and figure it out. And sometimes, just to be frank, that really sucks.
2. You can’t leave everything or everyone behind. The fact is, you lived a life before this adventure, this season of your life, and even if you wanted to erase everything and everyone from before, you couldn’t. They have impacted you for better or for worse. Now, you get to decide what to do with that. I am not advising you to carry emotional (or physical, to be honest) baggage wherever you go. But in my experience, if you think location will help you escape a problem, it’s actually an even bigger problem than you realize. Secondly, memories, both good and bad, are a part of me. Even in this new city, they come back to me. Some things I wish I could forget. But if Cher could not turn back time, I can’t either. I can move forward though. And it’s good and healthy and right.
3. There are Pros to life pre-adventure. It’s just a fact. I promised myself that I would not be the girl who came home to Chicago that first time and said, “Well, in San Francisco we do this and San Francisco is so much better than here because…” (I mostly succeeded but the first time I came home was winter and I know I made some cracks about the weather). But on the flip side, there are things about mundane suburbia, I sure do miss. I won’t lie to you about it. Some days, I really long for a bag of chips and some Whole Foods guacamole and mango salsa, but then I remember I have to take a cab over to Whole Foods. Or I realize I have no clean clothes. None. And I remember I don’t live in a house with a washer and dryer just ready (and free!) for my own use. (To think of all the times I complained about doing laundry; I didn’t know how good I had it.) (Also, yes, I have bought new undies just so I could get through one more week without doing the wash.) This doesn’t mean don’t go on adventures but it isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time. Life is not like that. There are pros and cons to any life situation. For me, it’s actually, upon reflection, helped me appreciate a life, I didn’t value while I was living it. As I go forward, I want to value the season of life I am in, even if it is hard, because there is always pros and cons to any situation.
4. There are all types of adventures. Never belittle a fellow adventurer. Or yourself. I’m not married and I don’t have kids. Do I want those things? Yes. But in God’s perfect timing, if I had them at 24, I would never have fallen in love with the city of San Francisco. Still, I have friends that are married with kids. I don’t think they are “tied down” and I am “free.” I truly believe, after this last year and a half, that there are all types of adventures. Some workout and some don’t. Sometimes life’s circumstances actually make it easier or harder for a particular adventure to take place. But you know what mom said: until you’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes, no judgement. Honestly, I think motherhood will someday be a great adventure. Some of my friends already are on that adventure. And I am sure some of them (well, I am sure since they told me) love their kids but wish they had one last, stellar, solo adventure for the record books, to get to know themselves better. But we are co-adventurers. Get it? Got it? Good.
5. Homesickness is real thing. I’ve always been extremely independent. I don’t think it surprised people who knew me that I could leave. It’s strange, though. I miss family and friends in waves. Sometimes it is particularly poignant. And other times, I don’t really think about it. But I have to leave you with this. Right now, my little sister, with over twenty years and a country between us, is obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. Obsessed.
Dorothy got to go on this amazing adventure with some great shoes (and her little dog, too!). She encountered people and things she never expected. She was pushed beyond what she thought herself capable. But at the end of the adventure, she still says, “There is no place like home.”
For some people, home is not a place. It is a voice on the telephone. It is loopy cursive on snail mail. It’s a funny text message. But upon adventuring, know that there are people and places that forged you, that understand you in ways that are impossible to explain. Some connections go so far back they are nearly magical.
So yes, by all means, be adventurers! I just want to be honest about mine.