When I left LA almost five years ago it felt like the end of an era.
In a way it was.
I lived in a house with a group of women for six years and we did life differently, and in a more intentional way than I ever had before.
We tried our best not to gossip.
If we had an issue with one another we’d talk it out directly with that person.
We made a commitment not to shame our bodies, or do that awful body comparison thing so many women do.
We prayed together.
We would blast the stereo and have Justin Bieber dance parties.
When one of us was heartbroken, the other would hold her and cry with her.
It was in this house that…
- God really healed me of the last remains of the eating disorder I had in college.
- I realized I was trying to work out my daddy issues with all the boneheaded guys (maybe say unhealthy guys. I know you’re trying to be funny but they’re still His children) I was dating
- I began to understand that God is way more concerned with my heart than whether I am following a set of rules.
- I learned to let myself need others
That last one was big. As a kid I always took care of everyone else, so to let myself need another person felt scary. I knew I’d be there for them, but I wasn’t sure if they could be there for me. Intimacy often felt like responsibility. It was here that I experienced the beauty of allowing myself to be known.
It was rare, and it was special.
The day I moved to New York, one of my roommates and best friends, and now editor at The Refined Woman—Elizabeth, dropped me off at the airport.
I was so broke at the time that I couldn’t afford to pay the extra fee to check a third bag. I got to security and they took one look at my pillow case which was coming apart at the seams with blow dryers and books and trinkets dripping out of its sides, and wouldn’t let me through. Not only that, they laughed at me. It was awful.
I was humiliated, and my eyes were burning as I choked back hot tears. I called Elizabeth and told her what was happening, and she drove back to the airport and let me dump all my stuff in her car. We hugged, and she didn’t judge or laugh at me for being cheap or filling her car with random things from my pillow case.
She gave me a hug and reminded me everything would be all right. More importantly she showed up—no questions asked— in my time of need.
It wasn’t until I saw the New York City skyline from the airplane that I started crying again. Big tears were spilling out of my eyes and running down my cheeks, for so many reasons: ever since my first trip to shoot New York Fashion Week, five years earlier, I knew I wanted to live there, and it was happening. My dream was coming true.
But it was also the end of a season I knew I’d never get back. I really grieved that.
Some people move because they’ve outgrown where they’re at. Not me. I was leaving a life that had shaped me in more ways than I can put down in words.
When I moved to California it was the first time I really left home and began to discover who I was on my own. And I went through that journey with some of the most incredible human beings I had ever met.
I was leaving something stable, secure, and good for something completely unknown. I was choosing the wildcard. I had $10,000 saved in my bank account and a dream, and that’s about it.
What if I never made friends in New York the way I had in LA?
No matter what, I knew everything was going to be different. I wondered if I had just made a big mistake.
For most of my first year in New York I only had two friends, and it was a hard transition. I began to think maybe my time in California was going to be my version of the glory days. But slowly, as I got my bearings in New York I started to realize something: I may never experience what I experienced in California again, but that’s ok.
It was a season, and part of the beauty of seasons is that they don’t last forever. If Christmas was year round, then the magic of a decorated Christmas tree, the anticipation of presents on Christmas morning, or the thrill of ice skating and the first big snow of the season would become mundane.
There is sacredness in the temporal. Accepting that gave me the freedom to be fully alive and present to the moment at hand, and the ability to hold the past in a special place in my heart while also releasing it.
Once I realized this, I was able to stop trying to recreate what I had, and began to focus on creating something new. It took a few years, and life and community looks different from what it was in California. But it, too, is rare and special.
In looking back I can see that that season prepared me for this one. I would never have had the courage to move to New York if it weren’t for my friends who fought for my dreams to become a reality. I wouldn’t be a more free and whole version of myself if it weren’t for that season.
As I write this I’m in another transitional season. I’ve had a sweet tribe of ladies with whom I’ve done life with deeply for the last few years in New York. In a matter of a few months each of us has gone through a massive transition, and almost all of them have left New York.
It’s the end of another era. And I truly grieve that. But I look forward to seeing what lies ahead, because I know it’ll be different and unexpected. And it will be very, very good.
This post is in collaboration with The Refined Collective Series.