I’m leaving. Today in fact. I’m getting in my car, closing the door and driving for 24 hours. Across 7 states, 1,681 miles, and past some of the nation’s most “interesting” roadside attractions (world’s largest ball of yarn, anyone?). I’m only going across the country, but nevertheless, it feels like I’m headed to a whole different world.
I’m leaving everything I’ve ever known. My home, my family, my friends. I’m leaving a state so beautiful and wonderful that it’s kept me happily wrapped in its embrace for over twenty years. I’m leaving friendships that felt like they were just beginning to bud, lovers and relationships that were cut short, and some of the greatest breweries in the world. I’m leaving my sweet old cat, who truthfully might not be there the next time I come to visit. I’m leaving my family, who I know I’ll see again soon. I’m leaving the restaurants I love, the bars I know too well, and the man I didn’t have the courage to say goodbye to.
I’m moving to a place where trains run underground, where pantsuits are more common than Birkenstocks and political policy and foreign affairs are the hot topics of conversation. I’m moving into an apartment I’ve never seen, with a girl I’ve never met, working at a job I’ve never done.
It’s not the first time I’ve left, and it certainly won’t be the last, but there is something different about it this time. Each time I’ve left before, I’ve had a return date. A plane ticket home, a graduation day, some sort of time limit that told me when I’d be back at home. But this time I don’t have that. I don’t know how long I’ll stay away, because there’s nothing drawing me back. The only thing calling is my future and my career and a new city and the rest of my life.
On the days preceding my departure, I was asked numerous times if I was nervous, and I kind of thought I would be. But as I stood staring at my Nissan Altima, packed to the brim with the contents of my life, I didn’t feel nervous. I felt ready.
There is something to be said about comfort, but there is also something to be said for pushing yourself out of it. We grow used to the lives we have, the people we know, and the places we love. But sometimes comfort can get too comfortable. When we dwell in the comfortable we begin to feel a little stuck. We stop pushing ourselves. We start to believe that there is only one town where we will ever live happily; we believe that the job we are stuck in is the only job we’ll ever be good at. We lose our thirst for adventure because we start to believe that adventure is too much work.
But here is the thing about life — if you’re not leaving, then how do you really know where you’d like to stay? If you aren’t exploring all of your options, then how could you ever know which option works best for you? There is a whole, wide world out there, filled with opportunity and excitement and the only way to profit from it is to go for it. Sometimes, even though it’s hard to say goodbye, you just need to take the chance when it’s offered to you. Leaving is hard, but living in fear of the unfamiliar is harder.
So even though it’s a little scary, and even though I’m sure there will be a few bumps in the road, I’m going. And this is my goodbye. Goodbye to the life I knew. A life so special and filled with love that this goodbye is an especially hard one. Goodbye for now, and know that if you need me, I’ll just be one day away.