People often ask me why I left.
It’s a seemingly harmless question, but often comes with the connotation that I simply ran away from it because I disliked what my old life had to offer.
I didn’t run; I moved on.
My Massachusetts paraphernalia is hung on my dull white walls. My Red Sox hat lies on my nightstand beside me. Pictures, t-shirts, group chats. My old city is never far, although sometimes it feels like it is.
I moved after graduation, something many twenty-somethings do. There’s something about exploring a new area, making your mark on a blank slate. I knew there was something more out there for me, and I knew I couldn’t find that staying in the same place.
There are often times I feel nostalgic for the life I was once a part of. Times where I wonder if I made the right choice, if I’ll ever miss it enough to turn around and move back.
I miss you. I miss the irrationally confusing street map, the “pahks,” the aura you give off that makes it feel like home to any stranger. I miss the crushed peanuts underneath my Converse after a night at Fenway, the stickiness of Bud Light on my arm after a night on the town.
I miss the people, the sense of belonging to something bigger than what you are. I miss the nosebleeds in the Garden, the 90% chance of drunkenly making a new friend at a Bruin’s game.
I miss all of those things.
However, whenever I go back, I’m always reminded of why I left.
It’s not because I dislike you, or that my new life is significantly better than the life that you offered me. It’s because I know the attachment I have to every aspect of you will hurt my chances of ever seeing what else is out there.
I love my new home. I love the architecture, the hole-in-the-wall coffee shops that I stumble upon. My monument runs are tough to beat. Although the sport’s culture isn’t as enjoyable, it’s entertaining to watch people try to make that the case (Go…Redskins?).
Life here is more cut-throat, the people aren’t attached to where they reside. People come in and out, oftentimes not regretting who they step on to get to where they’re going. It has challenged to adjust to a new life, but it’s the challenge I crave.
It’s the challenge that I new I needed to start my new life post-grad.
When people ask me why I chose DC, I never really know how to answer. I always had an idea in my head that we are “meant” to be in a certain city. That we are meant to find an undeniable attachment to a certain place. Originally, that’s why I picked DC.
I thought I was meant to be here.
I’ve come to find out that we are never really meant to be anywhere.
I’m attached to Boston. I’m attached to Cape Town. I’m attached to DC. And maybe someday I’ll be attached to San Francisco, Chicago, or Portland. I’m not sure. But why should we feel like we have to be tied to one area when the world is at our fingertips?
I don’t think I’m “meant to be” in one place. That’s why I left.
I didn’t want to leave; I had to leave. I had to find out what I was capable of, what my life could turn into without you in it. Many people stay with you forever, and I can’t blame them. Why would you ever want to leave a city that has been designed to make you want to stay?
Nearly 6 months have passed, and I have yet to say thank you.
Thank you for the all the memories involving cheap beer, the wicked annoying sports arrogance, the faded letters on my keyboard from all the blog posts you gave me to write about.
Thank you for the in-state tuition at an incredible college, the group chat of 10 high school girlfriends that makes me feel close when I’m lonely. I could thank you for everything, and spend all night writing this but I’ll leave you with this:
Thank you for giving me the strength to leave. The strength to try something new. The strength to dive into something unknown, the strength to leave you behind.
The strength to have the peace of mind that although I will always miss you, I can still thrive without you.