There was no one waiting for me at the airport. But I did not have space for loneliness in my luggage. I could not allow myself to dwell in sadness or regret. I was invoking the badass in me to handle my own challenge. But getting here hurt as much as it made me happy. Moving to a new city alone does not get any easier, no matter how many times I go through this. The last five years living abroad have taught me that it takes me some time to settle in and enjoy the change.
I left Mexico over two months ago, and I could not talk about it publicly until now. Or rather, I did not want to talk about it yet. It is the first time in years I do not feel the need to announce a major life update on Facebook. I have recently grown to dislike how big of a role social media platforms have played in my life these past couple of years. It felt good to keep this to myself, and process all the emotions quietly while staying at my mom’s place. Shout out to the awesome friends I left behind in Queretaro. I seriously cannot wait to drink beer with you again!
“Welcome to Austin” read the sign. A huge teddy bear was in the middle of baggage claim. A Christmas tree. Fake snow. Dammit with the heavy suitcases I carried around – one of them was falling apart, and I could not wait to put it in the trash. “I hope I never have to move on my own again,” I kept thinking.
My phone was broken. It took me an hour to finally get into an uber, but from my gray cloud of stress a ray of gratitude glimmered in me for not moving to Texas in summer. The air was lovely, and it was so sunny but cool. I saw Austin’s beautiful skyline from the car, and I imagined myself as the lead in that movie, How To Be Single, when she moves to NYC on her own. If you are nervous about moving on your own, this movie will remind you how much fun this stage of your life can be. “I’m going to love this city,” I thought. I had a good feeling about this.
I opened the door to my new little studio, which I had not seen in person until that moment. Phew. I was grateful to not feel any weird juju like a ghost living there or something. The balcony view was perfect for me! I have always wanted a balcony, and this one faces the trees and creek, which allows me to feel an escape from the city. It is wonderful to open it up in the morning, and soak in the silence, which is only broken up by birds chirping. Welcome home, me. May this be the beginning of one of the best times of my life. I love a fresh start.
This year changed everything. It ruined my plans the same way it ruined everyone’s. So I started working with what I had in my control, and I found a fitting solution. I am proud of myself for being there for me. Sometimes you have to put yourself first because there is simply no one else that can rescue you the way you can. And in all this aloneness, there is also company. I am so grateful to have frequent video calls with my mom, boyfriend, sister, and therapist to navigate the ups and downs. Heck, I even rekindled my friendship with one of my besties from college – Hiii Danielle! Change can sometimes lead you to a warmer home.
Whenever I think I finally know myself, and have my life figured out, I realize I do not. Stuff happens, most times unexpectedly. Just like our bodies grow, expand and contract, glow up and wrinkle…Our minds, our hearts, our souls…It all changes with time. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago when I left the United States to go on a one-way-ticket adventure. I hope you are not the same you were five years ago either.
I have learned that I have to be okay with the fact that I am going to change my mind about a lot of things as I live along. Throughout my life, I have felt so strongly about so many things I have done. Starting with a 5th grade play, and most recently ending with five years of the traveler’s lifestyle until a pandemic hit the world. I cannot control some things I wish I could. And in that burst of anxiety, I discovered the two things I can truly commit myself to this season:
- Appreciating the present moment – or better put: Living this moment without wishing it was different.
- Embracing change. Especially the kind of change outside my control.
I send you my warmest holiday wishes from this cozy studio apartment I have already cried in several times. A little corner of the world where I put furniture together until my fingers hurt from tightening screws and bolts. In this cozy place, where I laughed out loud watching tv but no one else can hear. A place for me to sit with my thoughts, listening to Taylor Swift’s new album, or just in silence, writing my feelings out. In the quiet evenings after I clock out from work, I often miss my previous life. I think of Mexico often, remembering smells and sounds that come to me in flashbacks. I know I will return frequently.
I am here. Right now. I am developing this intimate relationship with myself, as a 31-year-old woman that would never let herself down. A woman that found her identity in being a traveler, but that is no longer something that can be done freely. I guess the ultimate thing I have learned from all this is to cherish and appreciate my own commitment to living life open to adventures. Adventures are not always fairy tale like, and they are not only found in foreign countries. Adventure isn’t just in a plane ticket, or a language you will never speak. Adventure is simply in the unknown, the plot twists, and the questions you don’t get to have an answer to.
May 2021 be the year where we can embrace the question.
Featured photo by Jeremy Banks on Unsplash.