Of all of the disparate parts that float in and out of focus, making up my ideal vision of myself, one of the only bits that continues to remain absolutely clear for me is my desire to relocate. I currently live in New Orleans, a place I’ve called home since over half a lifetime ago, but if all goes according to plan, I will be living somewhere new in 18 months or so.
New Orleans became my home base in 1999, when I moved here to attend college. After my undergrad studies were finished, I stuck around not because I loved living here, as many people seem to do, but rather because I simply didn’t know where to go. Moving back to my hometown in North Carolina was out of the question, and I’d never been anywhere else, really. After Hurricane Katrina, I moved to Chicago for a few months and fell in love with the city. I came back to New Orleans to complete a graduate degree, and planned to move straight back to Chicago, but then I met a man (of course).
We started dating, and I lived in New Orleans for another two years before he eventually agreed to move back up to Chicago with me in 2008. But things didn’t work out for him there, and he couldn’t find a job. Eventually he moved back to New Orleans for a job opportunity, and for the next three years, we dated long distance. Though I was loving my life in Chicago, our relationship was slowly falling apart under the strain of distance. We saw each other nearly every weekend, but it really wasn’t enough (or maybe it was too much, who knows?). In retrospect, I should have just called things off, but instead I decided to try harder, and moved back to New Orleans. We were together another three increasingly unhappy years before I finally threw in the towel.
I wanted to move back to Chicago then and there, but I was broke, living paycheck to paycheck, and couldn’t afford the move. So I moved out, found a crappy little apartment, and started over. A few months later, a new man entered the picture, and life in New Orleans seemed less shitty. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in years, and I started to picture New Orleans as a long term option, thinking that as long as he was with me, maybe I’d get used to the daily disappointments of living here. Maybe the magic that everyone else seemed to see would start affecting me, and I’d somehow find a niche here. But the relationship wasn’t meant to be, and three years later, here I am again – single, still living paycheck to paycheck, in the same crappy little apartment. With one huge change…
Two years ago, I went on a spiritual pilgrimage. I dropped everything, went to Spain, and walked about 500 miles over the course of a month and a half. When I got back to the States, I knew that I didn’t want to go back to what I’d been doing before. After taking some time to consider my options and what I was passionate about, career-wise, I made the leap and changed careers. That decision paid off. Within a couple of months, I was working as a front desk clerk at a small boutique hotel. A year later, I was working as an event coordinator at a larger hotel, for one of the best hotel companies in the world. Now, a year after that, I’ve moved up the ladder a bit, and am in a position where, as long as I apply myself, I will have the option to move up again in 18 months or less. If I’m lucky, when I make that move up, it will also be out (of the city).
I’m not sure yet where I’d like to go, though I’ve compiled a list of possible destinations. One of the only other passions that I’m very sure about is my love of nature and outdoor sports. I love to backpack, hike, and camp. I love woods, mountains, and deserts. Regular access (long weekends are fine) to dark night skies and plenty of wildlife are major pluses. So wherever I go next, there have to be plentiful opportunities for me to live my ideal life, with options for year round natural exploration, but also plenty of access to the city and cultural opportunities, mostly museums, movie theaters, and music venues. It also needs to have big hotels, with extra points for a busy convention center. So far, I like Austin, Chicago, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle, San Diego, and Portland (OR), though obviously some are better suited to my ideal working criteria than others. I’d also be very interested in Canada, perhaps Vancouver or Toronto. Honestly, if they were to give me an option to get out of North America, entirely, I’d be open to that possibility, as well. Guess we’ll see what opportunities present themselves in the coming months.