Just over a week ago, I got in my car to drive across the country to bring my belongings back to Minnesota. It was a moment for which I had been preparing for quite awhile now. Several months ago, I even wrote this mock breakup letter to LA. I wrote about how we were an oddly matched pair and we were never meant to last in the long run. I felt my time in LA had run its course and I felt more than ready to move on to the next thing.
Then the day arrived. I thought I would feel something as I started the ignition. Excitement. Fear. Sadness. Nostalgia. Something. Anything. Instead, I felt nothing. Not even numb. Just nothing. My last few weeks in LA went by so quickly and it was completely filled with what seemed to be an endless to do list of things to take care of before I left the country. Getting into the car wasn’t even the mark of having completed my list of things to do. It was simply another item to cross off the list. As we crossed the state line from California into Arizona, I tried to get one last glimpse of my home state of the past 10 years. I even attempted to take a photo of California in my rearview mirror, but I failed. A few minutes later, California was out of sight.
It’s amazing how something that you’ve been wanting to do for so long, and are truly excited about, finally happens and you feel so little. I’m a very anxious person so leading up to anything that involves planning, especially one that involves major life changes, I find myself full of anxiety, checklists constantly running through my mind. Worried that I would forget something or would run out of time to accomplish all the things I had planned for myself. I wonder if I’ll feel this way for all the big moments in my life. Is this just the way that my mind is wired? For all those things that are supposed to be your “happiest” moments, will I actually be able to take a breath and enjoy it? Will I at least feel something?
I suppose there’s also the fact that when you make a big life change, it doesn’t initially feel real. When I arrived back in Minnesota, almost immediately I registered my car with the state and got a Minnesota driver’s license. Although I didn’t necessarily care for the idea to change my California residency to Minnesota, it was the logical thing to do. My license was expiring anyway. My car would be in the state for at least the next year and this way everything matches my mailing address. Again, just another thing to get done in order to check all the boxes.
Sometimes, the actual moments when reality sets in are at the most unexpected times. This moment for me was when I was driving around the Twin Cities and I realized that the radio in my car was still set to LA stations. As I went to program them to local stations, I hesitated. For whatever reason, this was the moment that reality hit me: I wasn’t a California girl anymore. I had left California and I didn’t know when I would be back. As of right now, I do not know where I will go after my year abroad and I plan to keep myself open to the opportunities that lie ahead, but there was something about resetting all my radio stations in my car that felt so final. It wasn’t the moment that I expected for everything to start to feel real, but at least I was finally starting to feel.
I know this next year will bring a rollercoaster of emotions. I expect there will be major highs and major lows. What I’ve also learned is that these highs and lows will hardly come at the times you expect nor from the moments you’d imagine. One of my intentions for this next year is to keep myself open to experience all the unexpected emotions that come from changing everything about your life and giving up all the comforts of the place you call home. My hope is to be able to share with you all an accurate and honest portrayal of what I discover along my journey of feeling something.
Well the venture begins. For me, as your mother, I feel excitement and fear. I remember when I was young thinking I wanting to live in a different country for each year of my life. Of course I never did anything close to that. I have lived in Minnesota for my entire life except for 2005 when we lived in The Hague. Now, here is my adult child off on an adventure I would have loved, but now the world seems more scary then it used to and I wish you a great adventure and pray for your safety.
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