Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Throw Off the Bowlines

Nothing More by Wesley Bird
I was about 10-years-old. My sister and I were spending a few weeks of our summer with my aunt, uncle, and small cousins at their home in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. During that trip, we visited a family friend of theirs who lived in a house on a lake, with other beautiful homes spaced evenly around it. It was a big lake, but not so big that you couldn't see all the way across and get a glimpse of the houses on the other side.

That afternoon, I sat and daydreamed silly girl dreams about my best friends and school crush, a movie in my mind about what it would be like when I was a teenager.

I will live on the shore of a lake just like this. All of my friends will live around it, too. We'll float on rafts in the middle and swim all day. We'll ride jet skis instead of bikes. When my first love breaks my heart, I'll sit on the dock, crying and contemplating the stars. No matter what happens later on in life, me and my friends... we'll always come back here.

Nothing to write home about; musings of a prepubescent. What strikes me now, as I remember it, are less the details (I hardly consider "lakefront property" a priority and I'm well past my "young love" phase) than the sentiment behind it.

My friends.


Those friends have changed, it's true, but the feeling hasn't shifted. I couldn't appreciate the simplicity of it at the time, but that fantasy (in its more adult incarnations) would continue to go through my mind for the next nearly two decades. A sense of Home, always with others. It's what I want, what I've always wanted. I knew it even when I was ten, didn't I?

Being far away from the people I love has been the hardest part of growing up. I am thankful that staying connected takes just one click, but I wonder if it's the simplicity of that click that's to blame for pulling us apart in the first place. Myself, my friends... we're all intelligent, 21st century, Gen-Y folk who want adventure, travel, exploration, a change of scene, even if it's just to a new state or city that challenges us. It's what led me to Seattle after college, what led so many of my friends to New York City, and others to England and South Korea.

print by December Baby Designs
I long to experience true adventure again; to become a "local" in a new place and see things from an insider's point-of-view. It's not just about traveling, but living somewhere. The idea of getting rid of all my possessions and moving to someplace new, where weekend trips to another country aren't just feasible, but expected. It makes me yearn for the flexibility (ahem, money) to make exploration a standard in my life -- not just a trip that takes a full year of saving and planning.

And yet...

The part of me that yearns for new and challenging experiences in other areas of the world is constantly at odds with the part of me that wants to stay grounded. The part of me that wants to find a home and community near friends and family, where Jonathan's and my children will grow up and cry their own tears on a dock over a broken heart, still can't reconcile the idea of never having lived abroad -- of not taking bigger risks.

I think most people know where they fall on this spectrum. Travel, excitement, adventure? Duh. No-brainer. Settling near family and friends? Totes. Only option for me. But what about when you're limited by your income and work and paid time off, and living impossibly far from those you love sounds about on par with the 4th circle of Hell, yet your heart still feels pulled in the direction of movement... What can you do?

I've never been much of a risk-taker. I'm an introvert, and my first year in Seattle was hard for a reason -- I'm simply dreadful at meeting new people. Making friends doesn't come easy for me, because my standards are so high. (I have some flipping awesome friends.) Also, RBF is at least partly to blame. This is a major reason why moving to someplace new, just Jonathan and me, scares the ever-living-hell out of me. Adventures can be thrilling, but they can also be lonely. But maybe that's the beauty of it?

It's no secret to me now that, when something scares me, I am not the person who goes into it head-on. I usually back away. It's always been this way, but that doesn't mean it's how I want to live my life. Whatever happens, our life choices should never be made out of fear. But how can you make yourself be brave?

via Pinterest

Jonathan and I just signed another one-year lease on our apartment in Orange. He'll work to finish school and keep his contract position at his job -- until they decide, inevitably, to offer him a full-time job. When they do that, he'll accept it. This means we'll be staying in Los Angeles for at least a year after we get married next summer.

This both excites me and makes me terribly anxious.

I have to remind myself constantly that we are only 27. If we move from Orange to Los Angeles next year, we'll only be 28, etc. etc. etc. There's no rush on making these decisions, and it does me no good to ponder things that may or may not come. Who said you had to have it all figured out by the time you're 30?


I remember back to my fantasy at 10-years-old and know that, without question, being near my loved ones in some capacity is an absolute must in my life and in my future. This was the one Truth I learned after three years of growing pains in Seattle. Does that mean travel and living abroad will be impossible? I'm not sure; I can't know.

What I do know is that I am opening up myself to the many possibilities that make me happy and scared. Friends and neighbors, late nights and bottles of wine, exploring someplace new and getting out of my comfort zone.

On second thought, let's just all go adventuring together. That'd make this decision a lot easier.


  1. Oh darling, let's be adventurers! I know this painfully well, this heart-seam-ripping feeling of longing for home and longing for hazard abroad, as if one can be ignored or made dormant while the other is satisfied. Actually, that's the one thing I've been feeling pretty consistently for the past few months, dully, just under my ribs, with semi-frequent, tear-filled bouts of acute immediacy. Home is not where, but with whom (which makes things infinitely more difficult, I think), and while I know my selfish wish to transplant everyone I love onto a boat so we can live and travel and drink wine nightly (or daily) together is futile in every way, I can't help but dream it.

    And jeebus, I certainly hope we're not supposed to have it figured out by the time we're 30. What a dreadful deadline looming staggeringly close!

    In other words, sign me up for the lake house and a bottle of wine (or whiskey) on the dock under the stars, with a limitless bank account for travel whenever we like.

    *click* and lots of love, sugar x

  2. I feel you. This is everything I feel, in fact. And it's hard, and it's made worse by the fact that I love this city that seems to drive others away. It's making me a cold Seattlite, not wanting to connect with new people because I know they'll just end up moving away to somewhere sunnier or more city-like. Alternately, Brandon and I have a plan for rotating timeshares with the people we love. It includes many overlapping weeks, but also room for introvert alone time.

    1. I completely understand. Going back to Seattle is sooooo tempting (goodness, we miss it every day), but we also remind ourselves about the reasons we left: family and close friends who were starting families. Yet despite that, the urge still remains to go back to the NW. No right answer, which makes it tough.

      I've also regularly fantasized about going in on a vacation home with a group of friends -- in the country in England, or Scotland, or Costa Rica. The option for vacationing together is there, but also going alone or with new guests. Sounds like a dream! Now if only it weren't for that pesky little money problem...

  3. This is such a relatable entry. Wanting to experience new places with friends is something I think about a lot, especially lately. The idea of "time sharing" with friends is brilliant! What a way to experience a new city on the cheap.

    And ugh, don't even get me started on the money thing. What a blessing it would be to have the time and funds to travel when and where you wanted...

    Great entry. I so distinctly remember that lake, and that exact daydream. I think we talked about it the entire time we were there.

  4. I just logged on to write my own version of this post, and remembered before I began that you had a recent entry I hadn't read yet.

    I SO get you.