Thursday, April 11, 2013

On Moving To A New Place

One day opportunity comes knocking, and for a hot second you debate closing the door and saying "No thanks, not interested". But this time you don’t. You stand there and just listen.
You ponder about this proposed cause, wondering if it's worth the investment.  Finally, you decide to take a leap of faith. So you accept the challenge and soon find yourself in a new town.  
You see people in cars and coffee shops, just like you did at home.  But you recognize no one.  
You drive on the streets and become acutely aware of the difference in your license plates.  The ins and outs of the roads seem awkward and unnatural. While you live and breathe your GPS, you wonder how people navigate so swiftly and why they drive so fiercely.  
You go out and see girls in fancy blouses. You wonder what niche fancy blouse store they have here that you know nothing about.  You feel like an outsider, yet find comfort in knowing that to them, you are no one.  There are no expectations. Any reputation, any network, any friends of friends that you once had become completely irrelevant. It’s like starting at zero.
All at once, the familiar becomes strange.
You are suddenly in a foreign place.  You picture the map of the states in your head, visualizing how far off your little dot is now. The center of your existence on the earth has shifted.  The shape of the state you know and love becomes replaced with a new outline on road signs and billboards.  You wonder who decided on these unconventional state boundary lines anyways.  Probably just some old guys you learned about in a 4th grade history lesson, you rationalize.
Through it all, you have good days and bad days. Some days you feel adventurous and excited and ready to take on this new terrain.  And other days, you cry. 
You cry because you miss your family and friends and familiar places and you become abruptly overwhelmed with emotion. You want to run home. But you don’t. 
Because just when you feel emotionally drained, the weak moments pass. And soon your perspective starts to become a little bit clearer.
You begin realizing how bittersweet this new life is. With no expectations, you can do whatever you want.
You can take a painting class with old ladies.  You can go to funny group fitness classes with strangers.  You can be on your computer in public and openly creep on anyone you want without fear of being caught by someone who knows someone.
You can be outwardly friendly to every person you encounter and finish every dumb question or comment with “…sorry I just moved here!” And the more you do that, the more people start sharing their stories.  Soon, you learn that a lot of people aren’t from around here. Actually, they probably moved here for some of the same reasons you did; love…a career…family…an opportunity for change. 
You realize your situation is not that unique after all. People aren’t Chicagoans or Houstonians, they’re just people. As you start connecting with more of these people, you add a few to your friend collection, one holiday brunch at a time.
On the way to run errands one afternoon, you make a swift lane change left to avoid upcoming traffic then veer right to dodge a rough patch in the road. At the stoplight, you smile.  You realize all the maneuvers you just pulled were on auto-pilot, learned from traveling down the same new road, day in and day out. 
Hmmm, those foreign and unnatural streets weren’t as intimidating and complicated as you once thought. In a brief moment of new-found confidence, you feel like you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.   And just like that, the strange becomes familiar again.    

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