“Are you excited?”
This is what I get asked the most often-- whether I’m excited to leave the place I’ve called home since birth and move to a country I visited once for 9 days in my ever-observant tween years.
If I lived as a monk with no possessions, I suppose I could answer as simply as “yes” without hesitation. I could see it unclouded, as an adventure that I would grow from and tell stories about for the rest of my adult life. Yes, that would be an incredible feeling. I live, however, not as a monk, but as a Stuff-Hamster, cramming every little thing I’ve ever liked into the orifices of my home until I could slap “Michael’s Arts & Crafts” on my front door and start a franchise. As a result, my answer to whether I’m excited is more complex.
Have you tried getting your legs waxed? If you haven’t, imagine that scene from 40 Year Old Virgin where Steve Carrell screams, “Kelly Clarkson!” in agony as his hair is ripped from his chest. Now imagine that rather than a quick rip of the wax, the massive strip is pulled slowly, allowing you to feel each and every hair on your body pried from the root in your skin. That, my friends, is what moving feels like.
Every piece of furniture I agonized over, searched for, measured, and built for my apartment, frivolously sold away for 20% of what I bought it for. Strangers arriving like vultures to pick over the corpse of my once beautiful apartment, asking whether I’d accept $20 for a $200 dresser without a scratch on it. Every purchase I’ve made in the past few years feels like money I forcefully threw into the mouth of an active volcano. My new car, my new couch… if only I had known I wouldn’t need those things soon.
There are positives, though. I have met some very kind and interesting people over the past few weeks. I have learned a lot about myself and how to let go. I’ve discovered that I’m braver than I thought I was.
Am I excited?
Sometimes. There are days I’m very excited. This is something I have always wanted to do. As a kid, I thought it was so cool that my dad got to travel around the world for work. I’ll never forget the Olympics “Snowlets” he brought back from Japan, or those weird candies we thought were jelly beans but had hard shells that made us spit them out. I think I still have the canastas he brought me from Spain. Probably in a box on its way to England now.
Anyway, I looked up to my parents and I wanted to see the world the way my dad got to. When I heard of other people studying abroad in college, I stewed enviously. There were so many things I wanted to see and so little vacation time to see it. I wanted these things for my life, but never acted on them until the one-two punch of a layoff and a breakup.
By January of 2017, I believe I had been quoted at least ten times in saying, “The only way I’m leaving the Bay Area is if I’m leaving the country.”
When I “met” Pacifica for the first time in 2010, the sun was setting. I reached the top of the Skyline and saw the ocean glowing in amber hues. In a flash, I remembered every seashell I had picked up on Zmudowski Beach, burying my plastic boat in Rio Del Mar, holding beer cans to my sunburn at Seabright, watching seals on the Oregon coast, listening to the ocean from my window in Pismo, skipping Kinematics to drive all the way to Santa Cruz just to touch the water and drive back. I knew, in my heart, that this was home.
By January 12th, 2011, I held in my hands the keys to my apartment in Pacifica. And in the seven years since, I have visited multiple new cities and countries. No place has given me that knowing feeling of home. So here I have stayed.
When I lost my job in December of 2015, I started feeling ready for change. I looked at jobs outside of the US. Very few were interested in sponsoring a Visa. On the side, I was actively involved in my genealogy research and happened to be reading a blog about a new DNA test company. Initial reviews were positive so I went to their website to learn more. I found myself digging through their “About Us” sections and liking everything I was reading. I decided to write them a letter. Perhaps it was possible they were hiring in the US.
Literally, a day after I sent that letter, I talked with three people from the company over Skype. They were kind, genuine, and excited. We aimed to meet up at the Genealogy Jamboree in the summer. I saw pictures of Somerset. And for the first time in seven years, I got the feeling again. I felt home.
I attended conferences, sold kits, met team members, gave presentations, and hoped that one day it would turn into something more.
Meanwhile, my ties to the Bay Area continued to fray. The housing prices rose 15% in a single year; an even uglier increase than the year before. Friends were moving away. The boyfriend vanished. My parents retired. My sister wasn’t moving back anytime soon. Every sandbag of an excuse that had grounded my little hot air balloon dreams had been thrown from the basket. All I needed was a destination and it was time to fly.
These are the things I think about when I’m excited. I remember that gut feeling. I remind myself of my dreams. I point out in my head that yes, this is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken, but it is also the biggest opportunity I’ve ever had to succeed in the biggest way. This is my chance to be someone, to make an impact, to do what I love every single day. And when I’m 102, I won’t be thinking about that $3500 couch I sold for pennies on the dollar. I’ll be thinking about the time I followed my dreams.
Finally, it has come together. I’m moving to England. I have found my [next] home.