What I Learned in DC: Appreciating the Right Here and Right Now in Life
I just returned from a trip to Washington DC visiting my dearest friend who moved up there a few months ago. This trip, just like every other trip I’ve made, got me thinking a lot about my unyielding desire to just pick up and move to a new city. I love to travel and I’ve realized what I think I love the most about traveling is the exploration of new places. I love to check out different restaurants and bars, meander through little neighborhoods, figure out how to navigate the public transportation system, meet unique people… I love all the newness that comes along with a vacation (which is also why I rarely like to revisit the same places even if I love them). It’s this unrelenting longing to experience something different and new that I will never get enough of.
However, despite the fulfillment of making new memories and the exhilaration of traveling to a new place, I always return with a slight feeling of restlessness. This is usually brought on by the rush of exploring new areas day in and day out accompanied by my constant imagining of what it would be like to live in this particular city.
You can even ask my husband, I think we’ve yet to travel somewhere without having a conversation of whether we could live there or not. And I almost always find reasons why yes, I could in fact happily move to San Francisco, Vancouver, Boston, Portland, Sedona, New York City, or Asheville… you name it.
I just love the idea of moving away – knowing no one, having a whole new neighborhood, city, and region to explore, and a blank slate to make all our own. Yet I’ve never done it. I’ve never moved away from Central Florida – though I travel rather ambitiously – I’ve yet to take the plunge of moving to a different state or even city.
Why is that? I often wonder.
Is it fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of it all? Yes, probably. But it’s also this sense of what if I’ve got it all wrong? What if I have it really, really great here in Orlando and I’m totally going to regret this move?
For instance, my friend’s neighborhood in DC was absolutely awesome. Really hip and cultural, cool restaurants and bars, beautiful buildings, tree-lined sidewalks, close to the metro… it really kicked ass to say the least. But I was quickly reminded of two things that come along with city living – smaller, older apartments that are very likely to not have central AC.
This is where I’m tested as to what I really want.
I want the adventure of it all – to explore a new neighborhood and meet new people, to experience a change of the seasons, to not have to own a car. And when I do visit a new city I can imagine us in the little coffee shop on the corner or becoming a regular at the Irish pub and even jumping on the subway or riding our bikes to work. I can practically feel it in my bones.
BUT then I fly home, back to Orlando and back to reality. I walk into my cozy bungalow home in my adorable oak tree-lined neighborhood where I can walk everywhere. I frequent my coffee shop and sit on my back porch. I have 25 friends over my house and host a party. I spend afternoons by the pool with my nieces and nephews. I crank my central AC and I drive my car to the grocery store.
And it doesn’t seem all that bad.
Not to mention most of our family live within a 30 minute drive and I have some amazing, fun, and supportive friends here. We know owners of the businesses we frequent, we have contacts for every concert venue and event in town, and we even have the beaches and Disney right down the street (I mean come on, who doesn’t love a theme park every now and then?)
So, why this burning desire to move?
And I do mean “burning” because it afflicts me every six months or so with an edginess I can’t explain… a feeling like I’m missing out on this experience of a lifetime and that I’ll wake up and it will all be too late.
Why do I feel like my life will have been wasted if I don’t ever experience another city as a resident? And why do so many others seem to be just fine and content where they are? Not even having the ferocious need to travel like I do?
It kind of doesn’t seem fair.
I wish I knew the answer to these questions. And maybe I do but it’s just not apparent right now (because I can’t help but hear my coach’s voice saying, “What if you did know the answer?” and I usually do).
What I do know right now is that I am very grateful for the life I’ve built here in Orlando. I have so many connections I’ve made along the way (beyond high school, which believe me many don’t get that far in this town). Plus, Orlando and the surrounding cities really do have so much to offer from arts and culture to dining to a plethora of outdoor activities.
Sure, when I travel to a new city it seems so shiny and new and I just wanna pick it up, put it in my pocket, and make it all mine – but that’s part of the appeal, the draw of travel. But that doesn’t necessarily mean every day I have to feel that way, right?
Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener.
Sometimes we just need to be happy right where we are, right now.
Yes, I believe whole heartedly we’ll move eventually. It’s an experience I know I need to have in order to not experience regret later in life – but I’m not going to obsess about it anymore. And I’m definitely not going to take what I currently have for granted. Orlando is beautiful and diverse and growing very quickly – and I love being a part of it all. I think it’s more important that I continue to meet as many new people as I can, right here in my own backyard. As well as take advantage of everything we have to offer in our city.
The point, for me, is that I’m slowly but surely learning that it’s about the present. It’s about appreciating what I have and the life I’m living right now. Because things are only “new” for a short period of time – and change can’t always make me happy. I may have a history of calling on change for fulfillment, but it’s always fleeting. It’s much more important that I learn to embrace my happiness here and now (because I truly am happy at this point in my life).
With all that being said, I’m beyond proud of my friend for taking this giant leap into the unknown. Not knowing for sure if she’d like her new job or neighborhood or even her roommate. But she did it because she wanted the adventure and it made sense for her at that moment in time. From what I can tell, she’s absolutely loving it and soaking every moment up!
It’s not an easy thing to do ya know, to just get up and move your whole life to a new place. If it was easy, way more people would do it. So, kudos to my best friend for showing me that all it takes is a little faith and a whole lot of courage.
I’m also proud to say that I’m finally learning to slow the heck down and smell the roses once in a while.
Life isn’t just about jumping from one adventure to the next but sometimes it’s about what is extraordinary (or even just good) right here and right now in our lives.
On that note… here’s some photos from my amazing trip to DC: