How do you know when you’ve found the right place? For me I’ve always had that inner longing telling me I’m not where I am suppose to be. Even when I was a young person I’ve had a wanting to get up and go and leave the past behind me. At 6 or 7 I decided to “run away” and I made it about 5 miles from my house before I was picked up by a police officer and delivered back home to my hysterical parents… I remember feeling sad that my parents were so upset and worried but I also remember thinking to myself “ok, maybe I’ll wait until I’m a little older before I do that again.”
Two days after I graduated high school, I packed up my life and relocated to San Francisco to go to art school. My mom helped me move into my new apartment, settle in and then she got into a cab and left. I remember standing there, alone in my new space, awful 90s movie posters on the walls and my teal iMac computer freshly connected with that awesome dial up internet… Just standing there alone and wondering “what have I done?”
It’s strange to be like that I think… to feel so desperate to get out and be in the world on your own and then getting exactly what you thought you wanted only to realize that it’s a lot harder than just picking up and going. Ending one part of your life to start fresh and new is oftentimes not what you think it is. It’s like being a caged animal raised in a zoo. Instincts tell you that you’re miserable and bored and that you need to be in the wild on your own but, if you are honest with yourself, you may not be fully prepared for what the wild brings and that wilderness could reasonably kill you.
I remember feeling so excited to brave a new land with my family. I had worked so hard to save all this money in order to make a smooth transition for us, preparing for what I thought was the worst and being excited for what I thought was the best. But moving isn’t at all what you think and as soon as that door shuts, you can’t just open it again... and that can be insanely hard.
So, it’s been almost 10 months since we moved to Denmark… almost a year of my life. Some days are hard, some days are not so hard… most days are just days. In moments when it’s really hard, I miss home and I reminisce about being there and about my friends and my family. Then I remember that the idyllic California life I fondly think about when I’m alone and sad in Denmark is really just a false manifestation of happy memories… they aren’t the whole picture. On my best days in Denmark, I am reminded of that. But the limbo that exists in-between is probably the hardest part of the whole thing… not knowing which place is better or even if I want to return to California. I just don’t know what I want anymore and that, for me, is what makes this whole thing so difficult.
But a few things remain the same… I came to give my daughter a head start, I came to push my husband forward in his music career and I really just want to be a photographer. These things have not wavered, these are what I want. The roughest aspect being that what I want seems to co-inside with what most people want and when most people want the same thing that only a few of us can get, only the hardest working and/or the most ruthless will survive. I work hard but I am far from ruthless.
Last weekend I heard my neighbors playing with their son in our shared garden… I felt compelled to go out there with them and just hang out. They are kind and serene people and when I am with them, their gentle spirits rub off on me and when I leave I feel a little softer and a little sweeter. Their son is just a spark of a person, his curious nature and his internal joy just makes me so happy.
We were snail hunting, trying to find live ones that he could make “houses” for and turn into his pets. I was digging through a bush in the back and I stumbled across a beautiful bright red Peony…. my favorite flower. A Peony is a treasure for me as their season is very short and they are very picky flowers. They only live for a few days after being plucked and once the flowers are gone, you are left waiting an entire year for them to return again.
My excitement was obvious as I ran through the garden squealing like a little girl that we had Peonies! I found three bushes, only two were producing flowers. I felt a light inside me grow and warm my soul, just from these silly flowers… but finding them felt like a sign. A sign that I should be grateful for the wonderful things that have found me this last year, for the friends that have rescued me without even knowing it, for the gift that is being able to live in another country and for being so lucky to experience all this joy even if it doesn’t last forever.