Moving is the catalyst to the most complicated series of emotions that any person will experience simultaneously. In my lifetime I have been blessed to have this privilege a few times, but I don’t use the word privilege in solely an optimistic sense.
Sure, when I was a teenager moving out of my parent’s house was the be all and end all of freedom and the gateway to the rest of my life. So when I moved from New Jersey to Boston to attend college, my fear and anxiety could not compete with the exhilaration of the new beginning. For the first time I was far enough away from home and the only one who would be responsible for me. But the process of being moved in to my tiny two person door room by my parents did not prepare me for the future of what it would be like to really, in every sense of the word, move.
When I was 19, I was granted one of the most life changing opportunities a person could receive, the opportunity to move across the world. When applying to college, one of the first items on my list of criteria was the possibility of going “abroad”. But while fantasizing about it, I never visualized the absolute rollercoaster of emotions that would come along with this monumental change.
The excitement that led to moving from Boston to the The Netherlands could not compare to any other emotion I have ever experienced before. I was moving to a Castle for goodness sake! (The Kasteel Well program of Emerson College to be more specific). I was going to eat baguettes and smoke cigarettes and see Europe! As I was getting on a plane with 80 people I hardly knew to start our lives together, I began to question my sanity. After 15 hours of traveling we arrived to the Castle; 80 jet lagged souls thrown into literally another world. It was the middle of January, freezing and overcast as we all stood in front of the gate staring at each other wondering what the hell we had all committed to. It had finally hit all of us at the same time, we were a long way from home and there was no turning back now. I think half of us went to our rooms to cry while the other half explored the grounds solemnly and digested how similar this was to a trip to Mars. Of course as humans we learn to grow and adapt to our surroundings but to feel so far and distant from a place to really call your own, where the culture, morals and language are so different from yours, really makes you miss a Home.
The next three years after my return were a constant hop skip and jump from one apartment to the other, never having a place to call my mine. Finally the time had come to consider what my next step would be after college. Studying entertainment for four years meant one of two cities, Los Angeles or New York City. Because I can never go with the easy option in life, I chose to pick up my life from one coast, pack my new car full of everything that I possibly could, as my little Nissan Altima got carted off on a flat bed to race me to Los Angeles. Living on couches for a few weeks was a necessity until I finally found a place of my own in a neighborhood I knew nothing about. For the first time I was forwarding my mail, calling the cable company, buying large pieces of furniture and doing all of the dreadful things we do to make a new home a home.
I’ve been living in Los Angeles for five years now. The one bedroom apartment I currently am in has become the most honest definition of a home I have had since my parents’ house in New Jersey. Now when I go home to visit, my parents have a for sale sign in the front yard, one of the most traumatizing things a person can experience. Of course for my parents this is an exciting time but for my brother and I, the one place we have felt grounded to our entire lives is abandoning us, forcing us to hold on to not so distant memories. So when I think about moving, I mostly think about a home. A place that you can truly be yourself in, love in and confide in. To me a good home is a best friend. Every experience that we have with moving teaches us a little bit more about how to settle into ourselves and to grow as a person through the unique qualities of our environment. To move is to adapt, to adapt is to evolve and as we evolve we find our true selves.
By Lori Gottlieb