Whether or not you think it’s a good idea to switch coasts on a whim, you have to admit that it’s a rare opportunity. This thought has comforted me in moments of anxiety, and I have to extend sincere thanks to my own laziness and ignorance of self for affording me a window that could potentially never open again. Last year when I realized I didn’t really know where I wanted to live or what I wanted to do, my options basically came down to the following:
a) Stay in New York at my job (at least make some money?)
b) Stay in New York but look for a new job (what would I do?)
c) Leave New York and get a PR job somewhere else (where would I go?)
d) Leave New York, don’t get a new job
So I mean… option D right? Obviously. This indecision-decision coincided with the end of my apartment’s lease and came at a time when I have savings I haven’t had a reason to use yet, friends and family scattered across the country and an unlimited supply of poorly articulated questions about different places and activities (Ranching – what’s involved in that? West Virginia – what’s going on over there?).
In addition, I do kind of think I’ve got some “Well… I guess I could do that?” in my blood. One set of great great grandparents hopped in a covered wagon with a glib “Ummm… how about California?” A couple sets of grandparents wandered onto some boats in Europe mumbling “That’s what I’m thinking. People are saying it’s super nice in America, I’m not worried at all.” Along with the genetics, I’ve also been submitted to decades of influence from this man:
Some background: In 1968, my dad decided to buy a blue Dodge Dart with a 383 cubic inch V8 engine. From what I hear, that was pretty sweet at the time.
Not bad right?
(Photo courtesy of www.musclecarclub.com)
But then almost immediately, he sold this beauty of a muscle car so that he could buy a brand new Triumph Tiger motorcycle. Check it out!
The Navy soon sent him to Japan, so, unwilling to part with his new bike, he packed the Triumph up in a shipping crate and took it over to his base with him. Four years and several motorcycle accidents and Japanese roadtrips later, he found himself on a plane to San Francisco, recently divorced and about to receive an honorable discharge from the Navy. So what to do next? Twenty three years earlier and on the opposite coast, he found himself in a situation very similar to my own today: a bit of savings, no real obligations, and friends and family on the other side of the country. Time to hit the road!
Unfortunately, when he went to pick up his bike from the docks, he found that rather than securing it in a crate, this time the packers had lashed it to the side of the cargo hold with some rope, allowing all the other crates to repeatedly smash against the Triumph as the ship rocked back and forth in the sea. With drooping shoulders, my dad gathered the scattered pieces that constituted the remains of his motorcycle and trucked over to a San Francisco bike shop that gave him a couple hundred dollars for the few salvageable parts, leaving him no choice but to scrap the cross-country drive and fly back to the East coast.
After all these years, he hasn’t yet been able to find another opportune moment in his life to make that coast-to-coast trip. Of course, the path he ended up taking worked out wonderfully, but personally, I think he should do the trip now that he’s retired. It’s never too late! And who knows what could happen next month or something to change his circumstances altogether?