Last week, I was unexpectedly offered a job in Northern California. I didn’t expect to be considering it so seriously, yet here I am.
Almost a decade ago, after spending three years in a small town close to this new opportunity, I moved back to the east coast. Over the years, I’ve flirted with the idea of returning many times. The difficulty with living there is the same as it has always been: while I fiercely love that area of the country, the people I love most in the world – the people with whom it is critical to share meals and laughter on a regular basis, the people whose children I need to know – are all on the east coast. I am extremely fortunate to have a support network that is wide, deep, and filled with love and respect. It is a source of great strength and joy in my life, and it is difficult to put distance between myself and that network, even though I know that distance will not hurt it substantially.
Despite that, I have felt this pull. So is this the moment that I take this chance and answer for myself the question of living in that beautiful area once more? For some people, the answer would be simple; for me, it is layered.
As I consider that, I consider the larger idea of timing. It’s amazing how things come together when they need to. For years, I had wanted to spend a month in Paris. For some reason, I always pictured it exactly as that: a month in Paris, no more and no less. Theoretically, I could have chosen to take that trip at any point in the last dozen years or so, with few exceptions. Yet I chose it this spring, in my mid-30s, long past the age of backpacking and aimlessness. In hindsight, that makes sense for so many reasons, which I’ll go into in future posts; the most salient one is that the trip was not meant to be frivolous. I did not realize how much I had to learn about my adult self until I had the chance to walk those lovely French streets.
I returned to the United States changed; I feel more confident and more settled in my heart. Timing had everything to do with that. I have a thousand dreams; they sit on a shelf, labeled like boxes of photographs, waiting to be taken down and explored. I chose the dream of Paris, at this point in my life, for reasons that I couldn’t have understood when I decided to go.
People make all sorts of decisions in life that are brave and crazy; those are probably the most important ones, really. Sometimes it’s so easy to ask why, yet increasingly often I find myself asking, why not? I’m finding that the answer to that question, if it is grounded in strength – not fear, though that is often present – may be the most important. Why not: that’s the question I’m asking myself about this opportunity in Northern California.
I know I have other options. They sit on the shelf of dreams, waiting patiently. I could return to France in the fall. I could go to Hawaii. I could look for a different job. I could move in with my friends. I could live down the street from some of my favorite people in the world. I could work in a coffee shop, writing in my free time without any weight of work infringing upon it.
Or I could take this chance, see what it’s like to live on the ocean, in a place where the stars are visible every clear night, flying east when possible to put my arms around the people I love.
It is a difficult equation, and there is no wrong answer.
I’m not sure how to make this decision; I am determined to remain true to myself when I do. Whatever else may come, I understand that the time is right for that. And in the meantime, I am certainly open to ideas and inspirations, if you are so inclined to share.