Baby Steps in the Forward Direction

Here I am two months after having moved across the country with only a handful of certainties all by myself. My life in Virginia was a good one. I lived with a boy whom I envisioned a wonderfully comfortable future with, better than wonderful, actually. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by many other wonderful comforts too: a beautiful apartment with cathedral ceilings and exposed brick filled with natural sunlight, loving parents only 20 minutes away who we visited every weekend for a home-cooked meal and board games and laughter, great friends who I could (and did) count on, a stable monotonous job full of well, empty promises. I wanted more.

The process took just a month. One day, I decided — to hell with it. I emailed a recruiter within my company about a position for which I was very slightly qualified. I poured my heart into that email. My cheesy, bleeding heart. Amazingly, after some time I heard back with an even better job offer, one that was “home-based.” I remember fixating on that item when I first read the job description. What on earth does that mean? Do I have to relocate to company headquarters, other wise referred to as the home-base?

Silly me. Home-based meant remote. Reading that explanation during my online conversation with the recruiter, something sprung from my stomach to my chest like a shot of lighting, lingering as I became more and more aware. I would get to work from home. It was a dream too rare to dare to dream at all. Why so rare? Because these positions do not exist. Not in Richmond.

And so came the catch. I could only have the job if I worked in an office for 3 months. Not just any office, one that had a Clinical Management department. My office in Richmond, Virginia did not. The nearest office was three hours away in Raleigh, NC. I had zero interest in that. I kept reading. Blue Bell, PA had an office. Another office was in Austin, TX. One more was in San Diego, CA. My heart made up my mind before the thought fully formed in my head. I was going to California.

Traveling was nothing new to me. My father excelled in Information Technology in the time period just before Y2K. He got jobs all over the world. We spent a year in Europe, mostly in Germany but also France and the Netherlands. Eventually we ended up in Richmond, VA. Just this past January, I took a month off of work to return to South Africa for my cousins wedding. The new part was doing it alone.

The day’s leading up to the flight were full of distractions. Last minute shopping excursions, packing, happy hours, brunch for the last time — I was saying goodbye, but it didn’t feel like goodbye. It didn’t feel like anything. Denial is one hell of a drug.

It wasn’t until the security gate at the airport that the magnitude of my decision fully hit me. I was leaving everything I knew for a job on the other side of the country in an incredible city, and there was a chance, a real chance, that I wouldn’t come back.

That last part didn’t fully set in until several weeks into my time here. The first few days were rough to say the least. I was sick and had to make a swift adjustment from having my boyfriend take care of me in these sorts of situations to figuring it out on my own. I remember thinking, when the hell did I become so codependent? Get your ass off the toilet (yup.) and find a CVS. So I did.

Fast-forward about a month, I was becoming a new person. One of the first things to do when moving to a new place all alone, is to get over the fear of being in a new place all alone. Get over it and get out there. More than once I stood in front of my bedroom mirror and gave myself a little pep talk in order to get my butt out of that room. Most times, it worked. I would step out into the San Diego sun and walk miles in any direction, alone. I went to parks alone, I went to restaurants alone — farmers markets, beaches, bars. I even bought tickets to a food festival and went from place to place all alone.

Well that last one is a bit of a lie. A kind stranger had an extra ticket and the festival was a block from my room. But! I thanked her kindly, took the single ticket, and embarked on that simple yet formative journey alone.

The great thing about being alone everywhere you go, is that you make yourself that much more available to meet new people without the distraction of whomever you are with at that time. I looked for any opportunity to break the ice and meet someone new. I would compliment people’s outfits, inquire about what they were drinking, or simply say “bless you” when they sneezed. I admired how quickly small talk turned into conversations which birthed friendships — or at least a good time.

I also joined Meet-Up and met a variety of fun-loving adventure seekers like myself. I was hesitant to type “fun-loving” just there. I mean really, who isn’t fun loving? What a silly way to describe yourself. Its like being an air-breathing, heart-beating, eye-blinking homo sapien.

I digress. I met some great people on Meet-Up. A few will probably stay in my life for many years to come. We met up in bars and clubs, went on hikes, had game nights, went to bonfires on the beach..because you know, California.

And now, here I am. Two months after having moved across the country with only a handful of certainties all by myself. And there is a real chance I won’t be going back.