I’ve been back home for just over a month, and though it’s crazy to think how little time has passed, some pretty big changes have come about in these last 5 weeks.
The biggest news, is that I’ve officially decided to call Los Angeles my home for the next year.
The plan was always NYC. I dreamed of living in the same city of so many of my favorite people who have relocated to Manhattan from across the country. I imagined runs through Central Park, Brooklyn brunch dates with my best friend, finally mastering the MTA, even normal happy hour specials after years of cursing Boston’s ridiculous laws.
But NYC is expensive. It’s more than expensive – it’s exorbitant. I know the ‘hip’ thing is to be broke in Manhattan (or now, Brooklyn & Queens), but if I realistically wanted to be paying rent, taking the subway every day, and even just occasionally joining my best friends for cocktails, club nights, and brunches, there was no way I’d be able to work part time, freelance on the side, and put more than a few pretty pennies toward my travel goals.
I have a new-found, lofty dream of becoming a travel writer, but I know it’s a business where you have to start at the very, very bottom, and climb all the way up. I also know it’s not a business where you can expect to make money right away, or even find success right way, but I’m determined to pursue my goals and try, even if it is a bit of a pipe dream.
In pursuing this dream, I’m taking a gigantic step backwards. I’m making saving money the priority, and therefore, I’m moving back into my parents’ house. Considering it was less than 9 months ago that I was employed, financially independent, and living on my own in a Boston apartment, you can imagine my parents shock, and slight displeasure, to learn that their almost-25 year old daughter was back at home for the first time in nearly 7 years to take over her childhood room.
I’d like to say that free rent makes up for it all, but for one, I’m not living at home completely for free (I’ll be paying for utilities & my groceries). I also know that being back under my parents roof will be a bit of a challenge. I was so proud to be one of the few college grads to stand on her own two feet immediately after I took off my cap & gown, so you can imagine my disappointment having to say I’m back under their roof. But I’m making this sacrifice now, hoping it will pay off down the line.
I’m now officially employed once again. Not by any sort of journalistic or writing establishment, but I’ve got a great gig working 20-25 hours a week as a nanny/driver for a wonderful LA family with a 13 & 15 year old. Since my expenses in Los Angeles will be very minimal, I’ll be able to put the majority of my earnings towards the one thing I’ve been dreaming of since my plane landed at LAX on December 30: another backpacking trip.
The ultimate goal is a six-month backpacking journey through the entirety of Southeast Asia, with a plan to leave sometime at the beginning of 2014. I’m hoping to have built up a substantial number of freelance connections and opportunities by then, so I can get on the road with a longer time frame and the goal of doing much more writing for outside publications, rather than just myself and this blog.
In the middle of January, I faced New England winter once again and skipped out east for a quick 10 day visit. I spent 4 days in Boston catching up with old friends, bosses & professors, then my friends Christine & Meg drove with me southwest 100 miles to the town of Middletown, Connecticut, where 90% of my worldly possessions have been sitting in storage since May.
Though I sold all of my furniture sans my mattress, TV and a few odd Ikea items, I still had lots of, well, to be very frank, crap. All of which needed to be sorted through. I never packed my storage unit with the thought that I would be headed back to California in the near future; the plan was always to be in NYC.
So through Craigslist I sold as much of my stuff as I could, donated the rest to a local homeless shelter and Goodwill, and shipped the absolute necessities (mainly clothes & shoes, plus my beloved Essie collection) back to Los Angeles.
And now, here I am. Back in LA, starting to settle down. I’m the proud sole driver and lender of my mother’s 1998 Toyota minivan — it’s so far from cool it’s pretty hysterical, but it’s on loan to me for free, the insurance is dirt cheap, and it drives from point A to point B, so that’s all that matters.
I’ve joined a gym, found intermediate Spanish classes at a local Community College four mornings a week, and started, slowly but surely, to reach out to my writing contacts, family friends, and my other network connections to start cranking out some travel stories from my time in South America.
I’m scared, but I’m excited. I know I’m taking a huge risk, and an even bigger leap of faith, and I just hope with some hard work, and a little bit of luck, I can pull this all off.
And if I can’t? If I fail? I’m promising myself I’ll give it a year. And after that, if I’m nowhere? I’ll take a few of the hard earned dollars I’ve put away, head to Southeast Asia anyways, and then come back to the US sooner than expected, but with the mindset that it’s time to do some serious searching for a full time job. I’m being lofty, but I’m also being realistic.
So there you have it: The Plan.
I hope you’re all excited to hear about the trials, tribulations, exhaustions & excitements as they come! Here’s to an amazing 2013!