For a person who lived in the same house for almost the entirety of their childhood, I’ve moved around a lot as an adult. This past week, I moved yet again, my third move since I’ve been back in LA. The first move was unforeseeable and dramatic, and driven by a falling out with my roommate; the second move was always meant to be temporary, as the friends who took me in were expecting a baby. This time I actually plan to stay awhile.
Back in March, three days after I’d landed unceremoniously in my friends’ guest room after the fall out, I was having a hard time. I was unmoored by the sudden change and mourning the loss of a friendship, but I was also just having a hard time seeing a future where I wasn’t stuck in the Valley, in debt and crashing with friends. Relaxing with my new roommate in the living room after diner, I felt so overwhelmed by my new reality that I just couldn’t help it, and broke down crying. She grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper, and helped me make a list of things that I wanted for the future. I taped it to the mirror in my room, and finally took it down last week when I was packing up my things.
Something that might seem surprising about me is that I’m really bad at making goals. I think it’s a combination of not wanting to commit to an idea and also the fear of not following through with the goals I set and consequently feeling like a failure. Most of the things that happen in my life feel like they unfold more by chance than by plotting and planning. I do understand though, that making lists and writing goals is great to give one direction, and that goals can (and do!) change. And I can’t explain it, but something about the act of writing these things down can help them to become so.
Looking over the list now, I’m surprised by how many things I’ve accomplished in the past eight months. I have yet to get a dog or write a book, but I’ve paid off my debts, traveled, and gotten back into yoga and swing dance. I’m expanding my social circle and am building community, and while I don’t yet have the city apartment of my dreams I’m working towards a future where I will have one someday. Inwardly, I’ve changed so much. I feel expansive, yet grounded, and very, very grateful.
The biggest force for all this personal growth has been starting grad school, a decision that happened so suddenly it almost felt like I did it on a whim. I’ve been loving my classes, professors, and peers, and learning so much. Midway through the semester, I made another decision, to change my major from Teaching English as a Second Language to Linguistics. After having a lot of different discussions with my fellow classmates and academic advisors, I came to the conclusion that not only would studying linguistics not hinder me in applying for teaching jobs in the future, but open up my options even more when it comes to possible career paths. And I’ll just learn so much more in this new major. I know how to teach, and my experience speaks for itself, but having a greater understanding of how language works will only serve to make me a better language teacher down the road.
It also felt like it was by chance that I found this new house. I knew I needed to start looking, and at a baby shower for my second set of roommates I got talking to one of their cousins, who had also gone to the same local university and had lived in the area for several years. The cousin got in touch with their contacts, and got back to me that a room in their former house was about to open up! I went to see the house, and was pleased that, although it was occupied by three guys, the place was relatively clean and gave off good vibes. I peeked inside my new room, and saw that the walls were painted a lovely shade of mint green. My apartment in Tokyo had green walls. It felt like a good sign.
But I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit myself to a longer stay in the Valley, and hopped on Craigslist to see what else was out there. There wasn’t much that I could afford, as even out here northwest of Los Angeles rents are not cheap, but I did see an attractive-looking room for rent out in nearby Studio City. It was at the upper limit of both my budget and distance from campus, but I went to check it out, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on something better.
The apartment was fine, but I knew the instant I saw it that it wasn’t quite right. The owner talked my ear off while her little dog yapped incessantly for my attention, and I had a hard time picturing myself feeling at home in her spotless kitchen and living room. The bedroom for rent was big and had it’s own ensuite bathroom, but it was dark and cavernous, and didn’t call my name like the room in Northridge had.
Now I’m happily installed in that room, surrounded by borrowed furniture, mementos from my travels, my records out of storage for the first time in seven years, and those soothing four green walls. I’m still in the Valley, but it no longer feels like a death sentence. It feels like a cocoon, an incubation period where I can continue to learn and grow and become my best possible future self.
Safe and Happy Travels,