One Heart, Two Places

palm tre

It was the adventure of a lifetime, and one of the boldest things I’ve ever done. I picked up and moved, albeit temporarily (for now?) 2,808 miles away.

I came looking for answers.

I came looking for peace.

I found answers I didn’t know I was looking for.

I found a peace I didn’t know was possible, one beyond anything a lifelong east coast city dweller had ever experienced.

I expected I’d leave with a clear answer to: should I stay or should I go? (If I go, there will be trouble…)

What I didn’t expect was to feel so turned. Melissa says #heartinNYbodyinLA—my heart is in both places right now.

I love the energy of NYC. I love the peace of Santa Monica.

I love the ability to get in a car and drive 20 minutes to a gorgeous hike. I love the ability to walk almost anywhere in NYC.

I love my friends in NYC. I love my independence in LA.

I love the warm breezes of Santa Monica. I love…OK, I don’t love the weather in NYC save for those few magical weeks in spring and fall.

When I told my dear friend Leah I was going to spend some time out here and perhaps move here, she said words I’ll never forget: “whether you stay there or come back to NYC, I think you can’t lose—it will have been good for you to go.” She was so, so right—more than she could have known, more than I could have known, more than my psychiatrist (who was the most excited for me?) could have known.

I had the space from my regular life (replete with triggers) to do the deep work I needed to recover from my deep grief and depression. I confronted and stared down some deep, deep shit that had been bubbling under the surface long before losing my mom but promptly spilled out once I was in the throes of the deepest emotions I had ever felt. I thought I’d tried some wacky wellness trends to heal my grief, but I went deep on the hippie shit out here. (Truth be told, that’s one of the things I *love* about LA.) Hypnosis, cannabis meditation, seeing a psychic medium, oh why the fuck not? Is it individually about any one of those things? No, but it’s about being open to possibility, to let love and light back in. And I learned to love myself again, but even more than I ever have before. And yoga teacher training, of course, changed me the most—it really taught me how hold steady in a storm, to find that balance that is yoga.

Grief changes you and cracks you open, and while I’d prefer to have my mom back over this journey, thankyouverymuch, if I had to lose her, I’m grateful for how much confronting my lifelong fear taught me.

I believe that if I do decide to stay in NYC, I have the tools to better handle it emotionally now. I recognize that could be me being homesick after two months of living out of suitcases and the past three weeks without wi-fi or cable in my Airbnb. (I don’t want to talk about that last part.) I know it takes longer than two months to get adjusted to a new place.

I also know that when that plane lands at JFK, I’ll be full of emotion and that the coming weeks will bring clarity to my decision.

…but, um, also happy to take any advice on how you’ve made big decisions like this in the past. (And I 150% recognize how lucky I am to have the luxury of making this decision.)

My heart breaks for the wildfires in this beautiful state. I accidentally drove far too close the other day, and it was chilling and apocalyptic-looking. Here’s an excellent guide to how you can help. I’m personally donating to the Humane Society of Ventura County for their rescue efforts. One of my BFFs definitely didn’t have to hold me back from trying to rescue an alpaca…

 

11 comments on “One Heart, Two Places

  1. Mindy

    I don’t have any brilliant insight into making this big decision, but just remember that whatever you decide, it’s not permanent. You can always move again…to LA, to NYC, to somewhere in between. Wherever you land, there’s lessons and a reason for you being there.

    Reply
  2. Kelly

    I moved from the east coast to Colorado 20 years ago. I thought it would be temporary and then I would move back, but here I am 20 years later. Here is my best piece of advice on it – I think you should live in CA for approx one year before deciding. It just takes that long to really give it a chance. If I had made my decision 2 months in, it would have probably been to move back to the east coast. After 1 year, you will not need to decide…you will just know. I will either feel right after a year, or leaving will feel right, but you need more time there, IMO. You need to feel like you “live” there for awhile, before you can make a fair decision, not just feel like you’re there temporarily. Give it one year, that is my advice.

    Reply
  3. Kate

    I am not really a good judge about moving across country being a homebody myself. But, having lost my mom 2 years ago I do know that the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s holiday cycle is a hard time. So, maybe being physically closer to your friends and family is a good plan for right now.

    Reply
  4. Carol

    I moved to London when I was 26. I had wanted to move there for about a year and a half and I made it happen with my company. As soon as I landed I looked up flights home. I was sure I had made the worst mistake…this city that I had visited suddenly didn’t feel like it had before. I was homesick for quite a while. Things were hard for a long while (months) and I didn’t really know anyone. I moved in August and didn’t go home until Christmas. I counted down the days and what I found was that I had an amazing time at home with my family and friends but I was ready to return to London at the end of that trip. I was starting to find my roots in a new place and although it was hard at times, I’m so glad I didn’t return home right away when I wanted to; I would have missed out on so much if I had. I ended up living there for 8 years and have some of the most amazing friends and memories. Of course if you had told me at the beginning that I would be there for 8 years, I would have freaked out 🙂 Good luck with whichever direction you take, at the end of the day it’s your decision to make.

    Reply
  5. Sarah Stutman

    Theodora — I’ve been reading your blog for years, as a fellow (former) NYCer and runner. I always imagined that I would live in NYC forever. I loved the restaurants, the (mostly) ease of hoppping on the subway, restaurants, family, friends, Central Park, it all. Then slowly, I started imagining the life I wanted to live and how I wanted my days to look, feel. And I realized that NYC wasn’t fitting the bill for me anymore. So three years ago, I moved to Vail, Colorado, with much excitement and huge amounts of fear. Picking up my whole life after 12 years was hard. And sometimes it’s still hard. But when I really thought about it, it came down to truly digging deep on what matters most to me and how I want to live every day. For me, that was about outdoors, a beautiful environment, and access to play outside. AND I had to be ok with the fact that I could want to live somewhere else AND love NYC. And miss it. And feel ready to leave it. And know that it will always be there. I took a leap and it was scary. But I’m so glad I did. I hope this helps and know that there’s never a “right” answer. It’s usually a work in progress and nothing is final. As someone who seems committed to self-awareness, you’ll always have the ability to shift and take stock of where you’re at. In my mind, that’s the critical component. Best of luck!!

    Reply
  6. Veronica

    I moved from Boston to LA/OC with my husband six years ago. There was a bit of culture shock at first and I was homesick for a couple months. But taking that leap felt SO good and now we’ve settled into a nice groove. I miss my East Coast friends and my family terribly….but I have no desire to live in Boston again. Good luck with everything! It truly is wonderful out here.

    Reply
  7. Dietitian Jess

    Not quite the same but when my dad died a couple years ago I decided it was time to move home to be closer to my family (namely my mom- she still has a tough time without my dad). My best friends are here, my sisters here, all my favorite memories with my dad are here so it’s home to me. My move was only from Philly to Pittsburgh but I know that I am in the right place.

    Reply

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