It’s 5:18am on February 1st, 2017, and I’m working the overnight shift at the hospital once again. I have to get vaccinations once I’m off and am dreading coming back tonight for round two. However, things are a bit different this morning. I’ve upgraded from my usual cushioned stool to a full-blown wheelie chair. Dave Matthews Pandora station is wafting over from the doctors’ area. I’m smiling at the nurses who glance my way mid-laughter. I’m drinking ice water.
Today I realized (and partially accepted) how much my life is about to change.
This summer, I’m moving to San Diego. I’ve wanted this for quite some time. I’ve wanted to move out west, see the mountains, the ocean, the sky, the new horizon. I want to experience the freedom of my mid-twenties in a place entirely mine; a place that I chose. A place where I can start this next chapter fresh, with such an open road in front of me. A place where I can freely explore my passions and pursue my career. A place full of new beginnings.
And after 5 years in Tampa I have started to come to terms with eventually leaving. It’s funny how things work this way. I’ve noticed it many times in my life, actually. How things start to fall into place once you’re about to leave. How you finally feel “right” and comfortable where you are and who you are with. Maybe this is the mind playing tricks on you, but maybe this is the universe making sure that you are ready. Right now I don’t feel ready. I don’t feel comfortable leaving those I am closest with; those I consider family. I don’t feel comfortable adjusting from having ten best friends in close proximity to zero. I don’t feel financially secure. I don’t feel mentally stable enough. But that’s life. I’m never going to feel completely ready. I’m never going to be at peace with up and leaving when I finally feel like I’ve found my place here. But life has taught me that only good things come from leaving your comfort zone.
Today in the car I cried numerous times. I cried about change, unrequited feelings, goodbyes, and change. But mostly I cried at the beautiful story I’ve created here. The good and the bad. The love and the heartbreak. The crazy nights and the peaceful ones. The questions I might always have. Tampa, you were good to me. The memories I made here I know I will have for the rest of my life. And as I continue these next months approaching my transition, I will do my best to look ahead with excitement without letting the impending nostalgia dominate my present moments. Letting go is painful, but there is so much good ahead. So many more beautiful moments. So much freedom. All that’s left is to look back and smile.
It should not be denied that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations. Absolute freedom. And the road has always led west.