Part 1: Probably
On my last night in California I met with friends for dinner in San Jose. I had too much to drink and got really sad when the night was over. We walked to my car where I had bags of stuff I wanted to give away.
After everything was distributed I hugged everyone and drove home. As I pulled away I started sobbing in my car when the realization hit me that this would be it, I was not going to see these people again for a while and my life in California was over.
I kept saying "This had better be worth it. This had better be fucking worth it" over and over again as I drove through my tears.
It has been worth it. I think. I am not sure. Definitely. Probably.
Part 2: Stuff
There is a 10 by 10 foot storage unit in an industrial part of San Jose that contains my old life. It is very full.
I have a theory that every storage locker in America will be auctioned off because the owner inevitably stops paying rent. The storage locker is purgatory for the things we think we want but cannot bear to throw away yet.
I am a materialistic person. I like owning stuff. Stuff makes me happy. After six years of living this way, I had a two-bedroom apartment basically packed to the gills. I am not a hoarder (though I am sure every hoarder says that) but I own a lot of shit.
Making the choice of what to bring with me to New York was tough. I had a hard limit (what could fit inside my car) but it was more a judgment on what kind of person I was going to become once I got there. That meant I brought more musical equipment than anything, only a few of my favorite books and movies, my video game consoles but only a few of the games. Clothes for the summer season, thinking I would come back in fall to get the rest.
As it turns out I did not change nearly as much as I expected. Almost immediately I started missing things that I wish I had brought. The apartment I rented in Brooklyn is a sizable one-bedroom that could definitely hold all of the things from my storage locker, but my fear is if I have everything shipped I both need to always rent an apartment this size or larger, and also I would be committing to New York for the forseeable future. I love New York, but I am not sure I can live here forever.
I suppose I should have known. Anyone could have pointed out that the idea that I would move and suddenly become a completely different person was ludicrous and doomed to fail. So it bothers me less than it probably should that I did.
Part 3: Revengeanancing
I accepted the job starting in July. As I lie awake trying to figure out what the fuck I was going to do, a crazy idea came to me: instead of flying and trying to cram everything I would need in two or three suitcases, I would drive across the country from California to New York. Everyone said that owning a car once I got there would be crazy but I would figure it out.
If I was aggressive I could make the drive in five days. After some help from twitter I called the trip "Alice Across America: Revengeanancing" because everything important should have a name. I plotted my route and my generous friends let me crash along the way. If anything, getting to visit them really made the drive worthwhile.
Before I left I was worried that long interrupted periods on the road would drive me crazy, but I found I am well-suited to them. Driving for 14 hours on a desolate Kansas highway did not bother me in the slightest.
On Saturday morning, four days after I left, I drove through the Holland tunnel into Manhattan not once looking back.
Part 4: Please wait
In seven months San Francisco had not changed, I realized very clearly that it was me. As I went to the places I loved I felt like entire cilvilzations had been born, lived and died in the seven months since I left. I am a different person now, I am a better person now. Maybe. Probably.
As I approached the gate to the storage facility I was nervous. What was I going to find inside? What if there had been an earthquake and everything had collapsed?
Of course nothing had changed, everything was as I left it. I started digging through my things to pick out the stuff I had really missed: the winter clothes and the movies I wanted to watch again. The stuffed animals I have had since childhood. I started crying, thinking about memories that I had just left here to sit alone in the dark while I made my fancy new life. And then I cried harder because even though I missed all of these things, I am not that person any more. Not totally. I have moved beyond them.
I could only take some things with me. As I was closing up the locker it reminded me of an immigrant who moved to America and had some success who then goes back to the old country and brings people to the new world to find similar fortune. They cannot bring everyone and the choice is difficult. As I stood in the doorway I said to my things, my former life "Please wait a little longer. I promise I will come back for you. It will be better, I swear."
I am not sure it is true but I like to believe it. Maybe my locker will be auctioned off someday too. But not yet.