“Are you sad, happy, excited, nervous?” That’s what every one of my friends would ask me in the weeks and days before I moved home to my Dad’s. I was anxious about it all coming together, about shipping my stuff and saving up enough money to get myself to where I needed to go. I was overwhelmed by the thought of selling all my stuff and moving from Denver, the place I spent two years building my life, back to California. My feelings about moving and leaving where nonexistent because of the most part I only had emotions around the logistics and everything else was superfluous.
Of course I knew that the emotions wold come. After 3 weeks of prep, 18 days of which I spent working and scraping together every dime, I knew that at some point I would stop and I would slowly and carefully fall apart. It made sense, this is was the biggest decision I had made in long time. It was supposed to be a reprieve from the constant worry I felt about falling behind in my career, the never ending parade of poor relationship choices and the all too real realties of trying to adult with very little money and bills stacking up faster than I could get the money back out. It was a logical and practical decision because with every passing month my dreams of traveling overseas and eventually going to grad school grew further and further away and honestly it was the only thing I could think of that could stop the bleeding.
Up until the day I got on the plane I was completely numb to what was going on. Maybe because I couldn’t believe it or maybe because I didn’t want to but from the moment I stepped off the plane my heart began to slowly sink.
I’d spent very little time in California post college. I had worked on a campaign in San Francisco proper in 2012 and before moving to Denver spent a whole summer in Sacramento with my Aunt and Uncle. But this time I was going to my Dad’s in Modesto, a place I frequently referred to as the Iowa of California. Contradictory to my hometown of Santa Cruz where I had grown up with my mother (who moved to San Antonio shortly after I finished college), Modesto where my father had lived for most of m life was surrounded by Central Vally farms and mostly smelled like horse manure. It was small and desolate with no real main attractions or things to do other than mini golf and the movies. My Dad has a big house in the suburbs next to the train tracks and but compared to my tiny apartment with a great view in Denver and the never ending amount of activities I was now accustomed too this place felt like prison.
Which is how I found myself quietly sobbing in a bedroom I hadn’t slept in since I was seventeen finally letting the waves of emotion pour over me. I was lost, I was alone, I had no one and while I knew it was a temporary (hopefully only 6-7 months) nothing about moving home felt ok. I was in an unfamiliar place with a parent I didn’t really know and the fact that I hadn’t been able to hack it on my own while friends of mine were getting married and having babies felt like I was being stabbed over and over again with my own shortcomings.
Now, to be clear, I know a lot of people move back home during their “quarter life crisis” in that I was not alone. It was going to save me money and provided me the reset button I wasn’t able to grab a hold of while I balanced the many many ballsI had in the air on my own. I didn’t resent the world that me and my twenty something year old friends had to grow accustom to. I didn’t blame the huge load of student debt I had accrued or the steadily rising cost of living in cities like Denver and Austin, and Seattle – places that were experiencing a resurgence due to a little gentrification and spurred millennial interest. I resented myself because what it really felt like to move home was failure.
I cried a lot that first week. I was lucky that a mutual friend of a friend was also stuck out here and a few weeks before I moved reached out to me and invited me to dinner once I settled in. I was happy that our first dinner turned into our first lunch and a few more dinners and while the potential for something more grew I was mostly excited to just have a friend. Yet, even with the unexpected addition of him I was still lonely and stuck in my head a good portion of the time contemplating whereI had gone wrong. On good days I was energized and determined to make the most out of it, looking for waitressing gigs and signing up to be a volunteer girl scout troop leader. I focused on my pending trip to South Africa at the end of the year and started figuring out the logistics for grad school. I held onto these ideals and ideas as strongly as I had hung onto anything before in my life. Through thick clouds of dust and the never ending stretch of manure I tried to keep the best possible outcome in the forefront of my mind, taking deep breathes throughout the day when it all became to much to bear.
Moving home was like being sent to your room after getting all C’s on your report card – the punishment being you were to sit in your room and think about your mediocrity. But unlike a child I tried not to sulk and held myself fully accountable while I studied and tried to do better.