Full disclosure: This is not my photo and I can’t properly credit the photographer. If you know who it is, feel free to let me know 🙂
Next Thursday, I leave for Washington D.C. I’m psyched about it because it’s been a long time since I’ve traveled alone for nonfamily emergency reasons. I’d almost go so far as to call it a vacation, but I’m not exploring a foreign land I’ve never been to before or simply catching up with friends I’m bad at keeping in touch with. I’m going to there to decide whether or not I will be calling our nation’s capital my new home (pending an actual job offer, of course).
I had a much more serious long-form piece I was going to post today about some brutally powerful ISIS documentaries I watched but the post requires a lot more preparation than I’m able to give it this week, so here I am, writing about my upcoming D.C. trip.
Also, I’ve posted a lot of downer shit already here, so let’s liven it up with some good (ish?) vibes via travel anticipation?
My D.C. memories are childhood memories. I haven’t been there since I was about 14 or 15. My Dad, the history professor, would excitedly drag us around to The White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall. We somberly walked around the Holocaust Museum after having seen Schindler’s List a week before, cementing for me that no Hollywood movie (no matter how beautifully, expertly crafted) could ever begin to convey the horror and depravity of Hitler’s reign.
Trips to D.C. always felt important. I protested Bush’s economic policies alongside my Dad and his colleagues during one of D.C. impossibly sweaty summers. I remember loving the energy of the city: more accessible than New York but with that same rapid jazz-like tempo and unbridled ambition.
Flash forward 20 years and I find myself returning there alone, considering a new life there. I’m trying to go in with an open mind. When I left New York City to come to Austin, I romanticized it so much that I didn’t bother to visit Austin beforehand to see if I would like it. I was so sick of living in Manhattan I figured any place would be better. I’d just been let go from my finance job, my love life was nonexistent and I was so damn sick of fighting for every little thing all the time. I needed breathing room in Austin and I got it, but I never found that sense of belonging. I don’t feel at home here.
I realized I’m much more of a city gal than I ever thought and it took moving out one of the biggest, baddest cities on the planet to realize that. Is that city D.C.? I don’t know. But this time, my search for a new home will be much more thought out than: Hey, my life sucks big ones right now. How’s about we ditch this overpriced cesspool of a metropolis and head down to the sunny south without a job lined up or an an apartment. In retrospect, building a life here went a lot quicker and smoother than it would have in other cities (ahem, New York). But still, I’m an adult now and although I still dream of a year of traveling around the world and doing the whole Razor’s Edge thing, this ole gal’s a bit more conventional. She needs roots.
It would be great if D.C. turns out to be my next home, but I need a place I could envision living in for longer than six years (which seems to be the amount of time I need to determine how habitable a place is for me). And yes, I know D.C. isn’t some magical fairy land. Housing is more expensive, the weather isn’t as pleasant as Austin’s and while the job market offers more potential career paths, it’s also A LOT more competitive. But it is closer to family and friends, and cold weather seems like warm comfort when compared to near-isolation and the prospect of having friends again. Don’t get me wrong, my guy is fantastic, but I need friends. It’s easy for him to love Austin, he has family here and a growing social network. And it’s going to be a bitch trying to suss all of this out re: our situation. Will he come with me? Things are just getting back to normal with us so is a long distance relationship really possible (I’ve never really believed they can work, to be honest)? Is it too early to start this line of questioning? Definitely.
But the questions are coming. And coming. And coming. And coming. If you’d asked me if I thought my life was going to be this unstable in my 30s, the answer would’ve been a resounding no. When I was younger, people in their 30s seemed so mature and put-together. Everybody was adulting like a boss. The reality is that almost nobody has it together, at least not everything all at once. We just gets better about hiding how lost we are.