The unexpected paths this road trip has taken us on have been overwhelmingly surprising in every way. With no plan at its inception, beyond driving through the country, we headed out on July 19th not knowing where exactly life would take us. One of the biggest lessons we can extract from this journey is the importance of immersing ourselves in the present and not consuming ourselves with a destination or the abstract concept of our future. Here we are 230 days later making a big, life-changing decision to move across the country, realizing that the universe gently guided us in this direction all along.
After twenty-three years living in New York City, we never imagined that embarking on our road trip would be the beginning to the end of our life in the city we called home for so long. We had absolutely no expectations or desire to leave the very place our roots were so firmly planted in. In fact, we often laughed at how we could never leave NYC because we would feel like aliens anywhere else, always standing out with our impatience of slower paces, lack of conveniences, and the obvious discomfort in the space and solitude that life outside of a big city brings. Yet, after seven months of traveling through the most breathtaking landscapes, developing a relationship with nature that is unbreakable, and fully taking the time to explore our country and our souls, we now feel that if we returned to a life in Manhattan, it is there that we would ironically find ourselves no longer fitting in.
After not too much deliberation, we have decided to launch into new beginnings, new opportunities, and new experiences and create a life for ourselves in La Jolla, San Diego. In all honesty, after connecting with nature in the deepest ways possible, I cannot imagine returning to a concrete jungle, despite all the wild energy and excitement New York City brings. We absolutely love NYC and are beyond grateful for the beautiful twenty-three years we proudly called it home but one thing I have learned on this journey is that it is ok, and even healthy, to love something profoundly yet not allow that deep love to hold us back from loving something else equally. Now that we have stepped away from the social norms and lived an entire year as nomads, it suddenly feels very important to me to face change, physical and spiritual ones, in this life we get to live only once. Yes, we can easily continue a lovely life in Manhattan where we have an apartment we adore that we have lived in for twelve years, a great circle of friends, sidewalks that inevitably lead to encounters with people we know on a daily basis, incredible schools for our children, and just an overall blessed and comfortable life. We can also push ourselves beyond complacency and comfort, reinvent ourselves in new environments, and begin a new chapter in our lives that will hopefully lead us to more growth and personal evolvement. There are many fears that creep into my mind trying to desperately dissuade me from moving forward with a relocation. For one, our children are in the top schools in Manhattan. Our oldest son is in one of the top schools in the nation. This coveted spot was a hard one to relinquish. With deeper contemplation I realized, does it really matter if he goes from the 36th best school in the country to the 491st best school in the country? Isn't top 4% good enough these days? It's funny how we get so trapped in our minds by these constructs we have allowed the outside world to lure us into believing as truths. Then, came the fears of taking our children away from friends they have grown up with who they love. Were we being selfish by removing them from the comforts they have grown accustomed to? The truth is, they will make new friends and the more honest reality is that by not moving for this very reason we would actually be robbing them of so many other experiences that they just cannot get in city living, in addition to sending the message that we should always remain in our comfort zones. The fact that two of our three kids genuinely want to move to La Jolla does make the move a heck of a lot easier though. In fact, both of them expressed interest in creating a life in San Diego immediately upon arrival. Finally, and this was our biggest obstacle, the cut-throat and insane real estate market in La Jolla kept beating us down at every turn. There were only seven rental homes available on the market, in the size range we were looking for, and none of them quite spoke to us. We ultimately found two homes we would enjoy living in and they both quickly slipped through our fingers. From there every viable option seemed to fall through. Devastated and almost willing to give up, even desperately considering to snatch one of the ones we did not like, my husband cleverly pointed out that we are falling into the trap of attachment, the very thing we gloriously left behind in the city while hitting the road. Why were we becoming so glued to the idea of locking in one home for seven months until we were ready to make a purchase? Did we really want to pay an exorbitant amount of rent on something we didn't even like? We started looking at Airbnb short-term rentals with the realization that we have been extremely happy bouncing around for the last several months and that continuing to do so for just a few months longer wouldn't be disruptive in any way. Then, all our short-term options ran into obstacles as well, like owners changing their minds about summer availability because they decided to use their home during peak season. We had one rough week of constant friction. Then, ironically, the very first home we looked at when we first arrived in La Jolla, came back into our lives and worked out! Whew!
Why La Jolla out of all the gorgeous places we visited on our trip? Simply put, it's magic. There is so much to see and do in this coastal city while always being in the inspirational and encouraging embrace of nature. The skies are constantly clear and the weather is just perfection. Unlike some other magnificent places we discovered along the road trip, San Diego also meets most of our requirements in places that we could live in like great schools, centrist political views, a thriving Jewish population (as minorities that continuously bear the brunt of the most directed hate crimes each year, being around other Jews is always something we have to consider), thriving industries, and an abundance of great state university options that raise the odds of my children staying nearby. In all honesty, I can't think of one reason not to move to San Diego. Ok, maybe I can: the earthquakes. But here they come again, the fears and anticipations into the future that try to impact the decisions I make in the present. In this thought process, I have to remind myself that Manhattan is due for an earthquake "soon" as well. Also, the salt in the air has been doing rather crazy things to my hair and I'm not quite sure what to do with my new, wild mane. Otherwise, San Diego is certainly my idea of paradise.
So, here we are, moving across the country beginning August 1st with just our suitcases and a short-term rental lined up (through December 15th). From there, everything will just fall into place. While the unknown is exhilarating, it definitely comes with a list of reasons not to take the plunge, but one thing I have mastered on this journey is to not make any room for those creepy little bugs of fear that like to infiltrate our minds. Instead of focusing on the dozens of reasons we shouldn't move I choose to focus on the hundreds of reasons we should. Mostly, as I view my life as a movie where I am the director, I just know that my movie will be a lot more interesting with new challenges, obstacles, changes, and growths. When I look back on my movie, I want to make sure it is the most colorful and exciting one of my career. Staying in one place for the rest of my life may prevent me from the feature film I am hoping for.
New York City, you have given us the best twenty-three years of my life. Roads of the USA, thank you for all the lessons along the 230 days that we have followed your lead. San Diego, here we come!