2014: the year I gradually moved away from Manhattan
I started this year setting up a new apartment in Long Island City and obsessing about learning to ice skate. When asked, I’ve stated that I’m happiest in life when I’m on the verge of competence after a long period of learning and struggle, and this period fulfilled that – I finally felt established and confident at my job, in NYC, and in my local friendships.
But I was also anxious to figure out my next steps. I had informed my managers at work that I wanted to move on sometime in 2014, and so I spent a lot of time browsing quora and other advice forums, researching whether to look for a buy-side job or something else entirely. By the end of February I had accepted a place at DevBootcamp for the summer and in the spring I was offloading my work responsibilities to colleagues.
In July I moved to Chicago, and the rest is history (as in it’s historically documented in this blog) – having an enlightening experience at DevBootcamp, leaving Chicago, and moving to Portland. As of this week, I’ve accepted a job here and I’m going to be working at a finance-related startup (with a dog-friendly office) starting in January!
The future looms like Everest
Back in January when I envisioned leaving NYC, these potential changes felt insurmountable. Isn’t it going to feel so strange to leave this comfortable life where I’m building my 401k, where I know people, where food delivery takes 15 minutes? Thinking about the future too much often prevents us from making changes, because they feel huge, and reasonably so: we can’t envision the full details about a future in the way we can remember details about a past, and so we focus on our guesses of what’s going to be vastly different and potentially distressing. The fear of change and fear of the unknown is tied to the assumption that the unknown is far away from where we are.
To some extent we can alleviate this by composing a more thorough vision of a potential future. Whenever I considered moving somewhere this year, one of my first searches was “[new location] ice rink,” and then I’d look at the freestyle schedules and group lessons for any results. I made a lot of decisions around the desire to preserve proximity to figure skating: In Chicago, I lived in Lakeview to be close to McFetridge Rink, and I decided to live in NE Portland for the Lloyd Center rink.
Sometimes I felt silly and obsessive continuing this habit, especially when it didn’t even work out (I’m actually skating at Mountain View in Vancouver, WA because the Lloyd rink is closing for mall remodeling in 2015). But looking back, I think it was a good strategic move – it helped me narrow the distance between my present and a potential future and made the change feel navigable.
The present only feels far from “what could have been”
Despite changes over the last year, my current, immediate life doesn’t feel drastically different from my life in January. I still have my family, my friends (with a few midwestern additions), and myself (well, adjusted to nearly v.26 – the wisest and quirkiest yet). My diet is a shade healthier and more organic, with less restaurant takeout, but my soup consumption remains above-average while my coffee and alcohol consumption remains around zero.
I feel normal, and the distance from my previous-course life doesn’t feel far from here. It’s only when I carefully imagine that parallel universe that I notice the distance, and I marvel, “Wow, would I have moved back to Manhattan after my lease ended? Would I be collecting a ridiculous year end bonus? I never would have met X, who I’ve talked to every day this week!”
Getting used to it
It’s a cliche, but we can get used to anything, as long as we allow ourselves the luxury. “Getting used to anything” is vague; I’d describe it more specifically as a convenient forgetfulness that anything has even changed, or losing sight of the distance we’ve moved. It’s a little sad that some memories may get lost in these transitions, but I think it’s worthwhile – it allows us the strength to metamorphose.
(And we can always keep a blog to remind ourselves of how we used to be.)