I've told my job, so now I can tell you. I've told my dearest friends here in California, I've told the nonprofit I sit on the Board for. I do apologize if there is someone out there whom I have overlooked and somehow hurt in the public telling. But I'm not keeping this joy in any longer. Though it is bittersweet, there is strength and energy for being on the right path. And God, is that path below my feet now.
I'll say more about this later, but there are bigger plans in the works (of course. It's me, Katy, at the end of the day.) These include a one-way plane ticket through Iceland landing in Amsterdam, leaving Minneapolis on my birthday. This part of the story is for later, though.
For now, I'll tell you about California.
This summer I read a book, the self-help kind I never really find myself picking up, but it came to me and gave me some deep clarity. I was in the process of thinking it was time to move into the next step of my life and wondering if that included grad school, maybe another couple of years in another new city or the thing that seemed to me to be the admission of defeat: moving home to the city I've known I always wanted to live in long-term. I've always known I wanted to end up in Minneapolis, but there is also a large part of me that want's to try just one more thing. So I was conflicted... because, honestly, how many one more things can we do?
The book, The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay is a rebuttal against the idea that my generation seems to adopt: that getting married later and starting careers at different times in life, the 20's are a throwaway fun time that are to be simply enjoyed. Not that one shouldn't enjoy their 20's, those free-wheeling, comparatively-debt-free times where you can really try out a hundred different personas and discover who you really are. The bottom line seems to be that with a little intention and awareness of long-term goals, as well as how quickly mindsets can change and panic can set in once women especially hit 30, the 20's can be used as a building block to a future that is more inline with what you have envisioned.
I was on my way home for my sister Anna's graduation from the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minneapolis, and I had been trying to determine what the next step for me would be. More time in Los Angeles, or maybe even moving to San Francisco, or working on a winery on the Central Coast for a bit? A stint of grad school in Portland, OR, Seattle, WA or maybe even abroad? Looking for a new job in another TOTALLY different location, like North Carolina or Maine? Call it a big cheese fest, but I stepped off the airplane, saw a big poster with a loon in a lake that said "Welcome to Minnesota" and I nearly fell down and kissed the ground with tears in my eyes like a sailor: It was time and this was it.
That being said, my ducks were not in a row to come home right away, not to mention there was more to see and do in California. Plus, the nature of working at a school is that you're basically a huge jerk if you leave at any time other than the summer with several months notice, and I have no interest in being a huge jerk.
I may be young and another two-ish years in another city might not be the worst idea. I'd probably have a great time and wouldn't regret that at all. That being said, the math scares me. I'll be 25 when I leave Los Angeles. If I went to grad school, I'd be 27 when I got done. If I had a great job because of professional connections and networks which was worth holding onto for another few years, that's 28 or 29. Then there's weddings? Babies? Ultimately I want a partner who wants to be in Minneapolis/Minnesota and the chances of finding that outside of that place is significantly lower. Lots of women my age are starting to look at the 30's with a little panic, wondering about fertility and all those studies showing how much more difficult it can be to have children later in life. I'm trying not to feed into that, but realistically I should at least have all of this in the back of my mind.
Not to mention the very thought of gently tugging out and replanting all of these roots I've got growing in California is hard enough. Though I may be a wanderer and want to live in as many cities as I possibly can, when I am fully honest with myself, I see that of course community and connections are the most important forces in my life and that growing and nurturing these is essential. There will only be so many times that I can replant everything in my life this way (especially as a single woman) and I know that I ultimately do not want to live in Southern California for a myriad of reasons that all boil down to it's not really me or my home. So much fun in my 20's - the sort of adventure I never would have thought I would take and which still seems surreal to me - but every time I go home I am reminded of who I really am and what I truly love and cherish, as it were.
So I'll be coming home. I've got a California bucket list which I'm working through quickly filled with the places I still haven't seen or want to get to one last time before I go. I'm trying to spend as many nights sitting up late, surrounded by the lovely women I live with who I will miss more than I care to think about right now. I've been singing songs about things changing, about going home. I've been making lists and drawing maps in permanent marker. I'll say more about my emotions and conflicts and experiences of this whole journey soon. But for now I want to rest in the truth at it's most basic level:
I'm coming home.