before i got my ire up to buy a one-way ticket to the european continent in may 2012, i knew deep inside that living in seattle was not a permanent situation; at least not at the moment.
i spent eight years trying to find my own path there while slowly discovering and eventually learning to love washington state’s largest city. staying was never exactly part of my plan, but it seemed like what i was resigned to. i took a job there after college in 2008 as a barista that i knew i could easily quit when my plans to live abroad started to materialize…. but the thing is, they almost never did.
i was looking for a travel partner and i thought i had found one in an ex-boyfriend of mine. turns out, i was being sort of strung along because he didn’t have the heart until much later to tell me that he couldn’t move abroad. maybe he was trying to accept the idea and couldn’t, maybe he never accepted it, but when i was finally filled in on that plan, i was crushed. this was the beginning of 2011, and i felt sad enough that i was just going through the motions of my day at work. it didn’t matter if i was at home or at work, because i felt no more joy from one than the other. (sad, right?) i started devising plans to go abroad by myself… perhaps as an english teacher in georgia or a berry picker in sweden for the summer? the situation was getting desperate.
“but you would never go without me, right?” he asked.
something had to give. i mentioned how everything came to a head during my trip to iceland in april 2011, and decided to go it alone from then on. but, then i met alex. i won’t forget one of our first conversations we had when we started dating: “let’s just sell all of our things and move to a cabin in the woods in scotland.” “okay!” he agreed. bingo.
of course, i didn’t sell all of my things (thanks mom!) but essentially, that’s what we ended up doing. i finally found that willing travel partner who was ready to quit their job and buy a one-way ticket to europe with me. and hey… we actually did end up in a cabin (well, cottage) in the scottish woods for awhile!
in the end, i left because i had to. after contracting the ‘live abroad’ bug during my stay in germany, i knew that’s what i really wanted to do. so, i slowly saved my tip money and patiently waited for the right opportunity to come up.
leaving seattle has really made me appreciate a lot about it. the abundance of fresh seafood, the way the olympic mountains look when you drive west on N 105th street on a clear sunny day, the friends, the culture. i left on the best possible terms and even though i haven’t returned in the timeline i said i would (six months to a year, if you can believe it), i still hope to make it back one of these days. spending a lot of time there this spring/summer on my first visit back home since 2012 will really be a big test for me: am i ready to return or will the adventure continue?
i’m just thankful i didn’t give up on my dream. it would’ve ate at me for the rest of my life if i never knew what really living and working abroad was like. (moral: it’s pretty great)