Days 223-226: Overseas vs Wedding

When I arrived in Los Angeles, I picked up my rental car and drove towards my old workplace to meet a friend for happy hour. Jimmy and I used to go to happy hour at Geezers, so we met there like old times. We had a great time catching up over some drinks.

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I was staying the night at my friend Trisha’s house, but my friend Debbie had the key to my storage unit. It was late and they were in bed, so I picked up the key from Debbie’s mailbox and drove to Trisha’s house.

I’ve picked Trisha up from her house several times, but I’d never actually been inside. She has two children in grade school and they were all in bed. Her son Hunter was letting me use his bedroom while he was in Trisha’s room. Trisha left me instructions on how to get inside, which felt like a typical Airbnb for me.

I walked inside and looked for pictures on the wall so I knew it was her apartment. I was up late that night because I had to do some updates to my blog. The next morning, I drove back to Debbie’s house because I had the wrong key. After getting the key, I drove to my storage unit to get some paperwork from the sale of my house. Once I had that, I drove to Torrance to give all the documents to my tax accountant. This all reminded me just how spread out Los Angeles really is.

Once that was complete, I went to my friend Carey’s hair salon in Long Beach to get a haircut and highlights done. Then it was off to Debbie’s house for lunch. After that, I went to the bank because they did not properly add my beneficiary to my accounts. They don’t have locations in Missouri, so I needed to do it while I was in California. Having a life in multiple states 2,000 miles apart is complicated.

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After making a quick stop at Target to get some things, I headed back to Trisha’s house. We quickly got ready and drove to El Segundo to meet my friend Toni for dinner. It was great catching up and having a “girls night out.”  After swinging by REI to get a battery pack, we went to another place for drinks.

Once Trisha and I got back to her place, Trisha tried to help me fix my duffle bag. It was a new bag and I only used it as a backup bag while traveling the last six months. The baggage handlers at the airport somehow bent one of the bars on the bottom, preventing the handle from extending. I’m too tall to hold the loop on the side and it was too heavy to carry. But no matter what we tried, we couldn’t fix it.

The next morning, Trisha and I went to a restaurant for breakfast and then I drove to the airport to drop off my rental car and catch my flight to Thailand. As I drove to the airport, I realized my ex-husband was getting married that day. I had seen a few weeks earlier that my ex-sister-in-law was tagged at his fiance’s wedding shower with a hashtag of their wedding date. It was strange seeing a picture with my ex-mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, and two sister-in-laws in a group picture with Aaron’s soon-to-be wife. I have those same pictures with them.

It was a strange feeling knowing he was getting married less than two years after our divorce. I had ended the marriage because of his lies, but it still felt strange. It felt strange because he kept telling me he didn’t want the divorce, he loved me, and had no interest in dating. And before the divorce was final, he was on Tinder dating his first match, who he was now marrying.

I reflected on the symbolism. He was getting married on the same day that I was heading overseas. He would make the same vows to her as he made to me. They would likely be blissfully happy that day, sharing their love with their family and friends – just as he did with me. I have those same pictures with him – cutting the cake, dancing, and committing to each other.

I remember on my wedding day I felt panicked. I was in the little waiting room with my dad as we waited for the wedding party to walk down the aisle under a large tree at a golf course. My dad and I would drive up on a golf cart. I remember feeling worried – was I making the right decision? I convinced myself it was just nerves. But deep down, I remember thinking, “this is forever” and feeling slightly panicked.

After the ceremony, the best man told me he watched a large vein in my forehead pound with blood during the ceremony. Nerves, I told him. We had a great day and people told me for years that it was one of the funnest times they’ve had at a wedding. It was a great day. If only it were all true. If only I had married the person I thought I was marrying.

I don’t feel jealous or envious of Aaron getting married. I’m happy he’s moved on and that he’ll be just fine. But it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s a strange feeling. It’s hard to put into words.

I don’t mean to be cynical about marriage, but I have a hard time believing people will be together forever. Vows are said with good intentions. People intend to be with the other person until “death do us part.” But the reality is more like “I promise to be with you unless you…”

I know what you’re thinking, “You have to fully commit for it to work out.” But the truth is that you cannot control your spouse and the things they will and will not do. When I hear vows now, I have a lot of hope for couples, but I also know it wouldn’t be unheard of for them to divorce and fall in love with someone else. It all seems so fleeting.

While Aaron prepared for his big day, I headed to the airport. I was happy with where my life was going. When I filed for divorce I still loved him, but I knew he wasn’t good for me. I had stood up for myself in a marriage built on lies, confronted many of my fears, followed my heart, and was living the life I believe I’m meant to live. It was poetic that I was leaving on his wedding day.

LAX is one of the world’s worst airports, but the international terminal is slightly better with better food and shopping options. It’s also less crowded.

I was flying with Japan Airlines for the first time. The plane had two seats, an aisle, four seats, an aisle, and two more seats. I got an aisle seat to the right of the plane. The girl next to me at the window looked to be in her early 20s and seemed to be with the two people in front of us. She didn’t get up to use the restroom the entire 12-hour flight to Osaka!

During the long flight, everyone was quiet and respectful. We left around noon so I wasn’t tired. Instead, I watched free movies on the screen in front of me. I used my Bose headphones so it felt like I was in a movie theater. After a movie, I’d do some writing for my blog on my iPad mini and keyboard that I brought. Once I was tired of writing, I’d watch another movie.

When the flight attendant brought dinner, I was amazed! It was all free and delicious!

  • Chicken and mashed potatoes
  • Salad
  • Quinoa
  • Fruit
  • Noodles
  • Miso soup
  • Bread
  • Green Tea
  • Water
  • Wine
  • Ice Cream
  • Warm towel

I got up a few times to stretch and use the restroom. There were toothbrushes in there for people to take and use, which I thought was a nice touch. The flight attendants would go down the aisles from time to time selling items from a catalogue. The homemade looking signs declared, “Some unique items you can only buy here.”

I was only able to sleep for about 45 minutes on the plane. We arrived at Osaka close to 1:00 am Los Angeles time, but it was 6:00 pm there. I was astonished by the toilets! I’ve always heard that Japan has fancy, complicated toilets and they weren’t lying. I had a private stall with a whole slew of buttons. I pressed the music button and whimsical music played. I wish the U.S. would get on board with these awesome additions.

I walked around looking for a place to eat, although I wasn’t sure if I was overeating or not eating enough on the plane. It seemed like they kept serving food, but with the time change, I had no idea if I should be eating or not. A friend recommended a place there, but after searching and searching I couldn’t find it.

I had a six hour layover there and I asked the security guard about the restaurant and he told me it was located outside of security. I asked if I could just go outside of security for the shops and restaurants and come back in and he told me that I couldn’t. There were hardly any shops or restaurants in the section I was in.

I felt like I was walking around in circles as I ate some bad sushi and visited the couple of shops. Finally, I found a table ledge with computers and space for people to put a laptop. Nobody was over there. I was writing, but as the night went on, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was literally falling asleep at my keyboard.

Finally, it was time to board the plane to Bangkok, Thailand. It was a six-hour flight and I was looking forward to getting some sleep. When they scanned my ticket, a buzzer went off and they pulled me aside. My duffle bag was sitting there, wide open. They said somehow it was broken in transit. The entire lock and both zippers on top were completely broken off!

My items were almost falling out. The attendants told me they would wrap it in two big garbage bags and tape it all around. I asked that they please wrap it tightly so things don’t spill out. I was so frustrated as I boarded the plane.

I was only able to sleep for a little more than an hour. My body was completely off kilter with the time changes. I watched some movies until we arrived in Bangkok. I had a four and a half hour layover.

The airport is huge, with very long terminals. I walked for what seemed like forever to my next gate. I ate a donut and got some coffee. The time went fast and it was time to board my next flight to Chiang Mai. It would be an hour and a half flight and this is where the real adventure would begin!

Post Edited By: Mandy Strider
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Days 28 – 29: A Date in Seattle, WA

I took the ferry from Whidbey Island to Seattle. I love taking ferries. It’s fun to drive your car on, go to the cafe, get a coffee, and wander outside to check out the views. This ferry ride was just about 40 minutes which was long enough to enjoy the sun reflecting off the water and watch the islands in the background.

It was very windy at the front of the ferry where I stood and there were just a couple of us braving it outside. My hair was flying all around so I tied it back with a hair tie. I had a death grip around my phone when I took pictures and two little girls with their dad were laughing as they tried to take a step against the wind.

I arrived to the Airbnb just after 5:00 pm. My room was a converted garage at the back of the house. Following the instructions from Airbnb hosts is always like being a spy who has been given covert instructions to break in to a place.

The street was incredibly steep so when I opened my trunk, my suitcase started to fall out. I opened the gate to the tall wooden fence and there was a small sidewalk leading to the backyard just to the right of the house. Per the instructions, I followed the narrow path to the backyard and opened another small metal gate.

The garage was across the brick patio and I opened the door. The first thing I saw was a washer and dryer on one side of the room. In front of me, I saw that the owner’s had hung a sheet to hide all the items stored in the garage, and on the left side of the room was a step up to another door that led to my  room.

This door had a glass window on the top half with just a sheer cover, which didn’t leave a lot of room for privacy.

I opened the little lock box next to my bedroom door using the code provided. The key was inside and I used that to open the door to my room.

The room had a bed, desk, a coffee maker that sat atop the dresser, a microwave, and some plates and cups. There was also a small refrigerator and a portable AC unit. The bathroom was very small – like European small.

There was a skylight above the bed with a white/sheer covering. It was nice during the day, as it let in the sunlight – the only other windows were two small rectangular ones at the top of the wall. This skylight became annoying in the morning, as the sun shone on my face and I’d find myself turning to avoid it, then within minutes the sun would follow me and I’d have to move again.

I was glad to have my own space. After checking in, I went to a nearby salon and got my nails done in preparation for a date I had the following day. After that, I picked up some groceries (sandwich, salad, crackers) and relaxed.

I wrote the next morning and later went to the Ballard Locks. This was one of the recommendations made by my previous Airbnb host. The lake meets the ocean but they are very different depths. The lake is much higher than the ocean water so there are several locks that boats go inside, the water either drains or raises depending on which direction the boats are going, and then the boats continue on. The locks create the same water level so they can pass through. It was interesting to watch the boats all pile up and wait for the water level to change.

The salmon also use the locks to travel. They are born in the freshwater lake and once they’re mature they swim to the ocean where they live for about five years. At the end of their lives, they find their way back to the lake, where they lay their eggs before they die.

There are windows below the locks where people can watch the salmon coming and going. It was mid-July so there weren’t that many going back to the lake but it was amazing to see. The locks help them so they don’t have to jump so far upstream to get to the lake.

After seeing the locks, I went back to my Airbnb, ate dinner, and got ready for my date. I connected with a guy from Coffee Meets Bagel the week before and he asked if I wanted to go over for a bonfire and yard games. I love both of those so I said yes. Then he mentioned that he was a craft cider connoisseur and “maybe he’d break open a bottle”. I love ciders so this sounded like a nice time.

He was 39 years old, just a year older than me. His name was Aaron. Yes, the same name as my ex-husband. I wondered, If we were to date, how would I refer to them? New Aaron and old Aaron?

Aaron ended up messaging me saying he was running behind and asked if I could come a little later, around 9:20 pm. He said he’d give me a big hug when he saw me if I accommodated his request. It didn’t get dark until around 9:00 pm so I said sure.

He asked where I was coming from and I told him I was by the zoo. He grew up in that neighborhood but now lived about 15 minutes away. He said, “You’re not too far away”. I thought, Not too far away? In LA standards, this would be considered down the street.

I was nervous for several reasons.  1) There’s always the fear that once someone meets me in person they won’t actually be attracted to me. It’s difficult to tell just through pictures. 2) He seemed excited about what neighborhood I was coming from and I was worried he didn’t realize I didn’t actually live there. I thought my profile was clear that I was just traveling but maybe it wasn’t.

I parked on the street but it was hard to find his house in the dark. I messaged him and he said he was in the backyard and had just started the fire. He came around to the side and peaked his head over the tall wooden fence so I could find him.

When he opened the gate, he seemed a little surprised. Not a bad surprised, but a surprised like how people look at me when they see how tall I am – 6’1”. My height is listed on my profile, but people still seem surprised.

He looked like his pictures but a little older. He was about my height, maybe slightly taller, with light brown hair. He had a button up casual shirt on and looked responsible. I wasn’t super attracted, but he was okay.

Aaron did not give me that hug he promised and it felt a little awkward. I’m sure I was giving off a weird vibe because all I could think about was, what if he thinks I live here? It’s going to be very awkward.

As soon as we started walking to the backyard, he said, “So how long have you been in Woodland Park?”

“One day.”

“Wow!! Really?”

“Yeah, I just got to Seattle. I’m traveling…”

“Oh…”

There it was. Awkward. We got to the fire pit in his huge backyard. There were several lawn chairs around it, but only two that were the nice padded ones. I sat in one of them and then he sat in the other padded one. We weren’t seated next to each other, as there was a folding chair between us.

I was very uncomfortable because I felt like he thought I had tricked him into thinking I lived there. Though I thought I had made it clear. We ended up talking for a couple of hours and it was all friendly. But there were no yard games and no cider bottles were broken.

He asked me what my plan was and I said “I’m not sure.” I was pretty vague because I felt awkward being there – like I disappointed him because I didn’t live there.

I think we both realized it wasn’t going to work but there was a fire started so we might as well make the most of it. He kept putting more wood on the fire so I figured he must be ok that I was there. We talked about his job with the city (he’s a software developer) and the housing market in Seattle. The houses in his neighborhood have tripled in value in the last five years. It’s about as bad as LA.

I was a little bummed because his profile said things like:

• He likes to “question the norm as much as possible. Humans were given the ability to think outside the box”.

• He likes to “debate life’s mysteries”.

I was hoping that he’d be open to an unconventional situation – like me traveling. But it turned out that he was pretty conventional after all.

After a couple of hours, he started to let the fire die down. Then we stood up and talked some more. I told him that although I joke that I retired at 38, I actually planned on finishing a book I was writing and make a documentary after that. He seemed more interested in me after I told him this. Then I realized he didn’t know much about me and at the beginning of our conversation that night, I probably looked very flighty saying I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. Lesson learned. I need to remember that people just meeting me don’t know I’m actually very responsible and I do have plans. But I suppose I look pretty flighty to someone just meeting me.

Aaron walked me to the gate and then he kept talking. He gave me tips of things to see in the city and told me (multiple times) to text him if I had any questions or couldn’t remember any of the tips.

We said goodbye and I left. No hug, just a “Goodbye”. I was disappointed because I realized it was going to be very hard trying to date while traveling. I had been hopeful that maybe I’d meet someone on my travels and somehow, we’d make it work. I guess I’m still naive – although I like to call it being a hopeless romantic. But either way, the dating world just a lot harder.

Post edited by: Trisha Harmon

Leaving Los Angeles (Part 2)

After leaving my house, I knew I needed a place to crash for a few days so I could sort through stuff that I had frantically thrown in my car. My friend Valerie offered her 1 bedroom apartment and said she’d stay with her boyfriend so I had the place to myself. She has a super cute apartment about 1 block from the ocean in Long Beach. When I arrived Wednesday evening, I had to unload a lot of stuff from my car. After many trips to and from my car, I finally sat down at her kitchen table. Her apartment was similar to the apartments I had lived in when I first moved to Los Angeles when I was 23. They’re all pretty old, have similar old doors and cabinets, and no air conditioning. I had cried (sobbed really) the entire way to Valerie’s apartment. After unloading the car, I finally ate for the day, a frozen meal I grabbed from my freezer on the way out of my house. Living alone means I eat my fair share of frozen dinners. Deafening silence engulfed every inch of the apartment and surrounded me.

I sat there eating in silence, crying. A feeling come over me that felt like I just slid back in life. I spent 15 years building a life; found and married my husband, bought and sold a condo, bought a house, and built a great career. Now it was all gone. I was jobless, homeless, and had no husband. I was back in an apartment similar to one I had 13 years ago, listening to the neighbors fight through the wall. Now I understood why so many friends were shocked when they found out what I was doing, what I was giving up. Fear sweep over me and I wondered what the heck I was doing.

Over the next few days, I sorted and organized my stuff. I bought a GoPro for my travels, and installed a roof top cargo box on my car. I went for a run on the beach, a path I used to run when I lived in Long Beach. I met up with friends to say more goodbyes. I still struggled to sleep. It’s maddening when you can’t sleep, even though you’re very tired.

I planned on leaving on Sunday so I didn’t overstay my welcome at Valerie’s apartment. A friend was having a party on Saturday so I decided to go. On the hour-long Uber ride there, I chatted with the driver and he was about to embark on a 3 week road trip with his girlfriend across the US. I told him about my plans and how I just sold my house and quit my job. My friend Trisha had suggested that I make business cards with my blog, Vimeo, and Instagram information for people I meet along the way. I had literally just picked up the cards so as I left the Uber, I handed him a card. He thanked me and started following me on Vimeo the next day (that was super exciting!). He helped me grab some drinks from the trunk and said “You’re a little crazy. But it’s a good kind of crazy.” That made me smile. I am a little crazy.

At the party, I was able to see several friends one last time. We ended up going to a local bar afterwards and heard some live music. Once back at my friend’s house, I chatted with a couple of friends and fell asleep on the couch around 3am. It was my last night in LA and I didn’t want it to end. Finally around 4am, I grabbed an Uber back to Valerie’s apartment.

At 10am, I met two friends (Karyn and Mo) for breakfast. Knowing I was leaving that day and recently having had my heart broken (that’s a different story), I cried through most of breakfast (thankfully most people don’t go to brunch at 10am). Embarrassing you say? Yes, very much so. I remember the days in high school and college where I never cried in front of people, ever. My friends used to think I was a little cold because I didn’t really cry. Well, apparently my tear ducts are making up for lost time because I’ve cried more in the last 2 years than ever before. I was feeling so much loss, all at once, that I simply couldn’t handle it. Losing the house felt like losing my husband all over again. Maybe that’s why he was able to move on so quickly and I haven’t? I didn’t realize how much of my life with him was still tied to living in that house. My friends were very patient and understanding. They talked me through everything and helped me feel a little less alone. They asked where I was going that night and I had no clue. I couldn’t decide between the coast, up to Mammoth, or just go through the middle of California. After talking it out with them, I decided to head through the middle so I could get to Oregon and start exploring. I’ve seen a lot of California and had to be in Denver by August 31st so I wanted to spend most of my time in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.

After breakfast, I went back to Valerie’s apartment and started getting my bags ready to be loaded up. Two friends (Debbie and Robin) stopped by to grab the spare key to my storage unit and a little safe with things like my birth certificate. Did I continue to cry? Yes.

Around 3:30pm, I was ready to head out but first had to stop at my storage unit to drop off a few more items and go to Best Buy to buy a keyboard for my iPad mini since the laptop I wanted wasn’t available anywhere. My friend, Trisha, met me at Best Buy with her kids so I could say goodbye. We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye earlier because of timing. I’m glad I was able to have a face to face goodbye with her and she encouraged me that things would get better. Around 4:30pm, I was ready to head out from Best Buy and hit the road. Trisha asked me where I was going first and I said “Probably Merced”. I didn’t have a hotel booked so I figured I’d see how far I made it.

As I drove through Los Angeles, getting stuck in some traffic, I felt a sense of loss. Los Angeles is where I had just spent most of my adult life and it had become my home. I moved about every 4 years growing up, living in different cities in Missouri and Colorado, and each move was hard. The hardest move was when my parents were separated and my sister, mom, and I were living in my step grandmother’s house while she was touring Europe for the summer. My dad showed up in the evening about a week before school was supposed to start with a loaded Uhaul filled with all of our stuff from storage. My parents said they were getting back together and I needed to pack my suitcase because we were moving back to Missouri (we were currently living in Canon City, CO). I didn’t get to say goodbye to my friends and we were gone by the morning. This was very dramatic for my 13-year-old self because I’m someone who needs closure. I need to say goodbye and I need to stay in touch with people. I don’t like losing people.

With this move, I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to my house, and having no clue where I would spend the next few months felt overwhelming. I drove over the mountains and into farmland as the sun set and realized it was June 24th, the one-year anniversary of when my divorce had been finalized. All I could think was “This has to get better, right?”

Post edited by: Misty Kosek

Leaving Los Angeles (Part 1)

I had been anticipating leaving Los Angeles for several months so I thought I’d be ready to say goodbye. Once I gave my resignation at work and it was Facebook official that I was leaving, I went through many “goodbye” lunches, dinners, and conversations. I was so preoccupied with getting ready for a going away party I was throwing, going through the process of selling my house (inspections, repairs, appraisal, etc), and finishing up projects at work that I couldn’t really process anything.

Everything was going according to plan with the sale of my house and we were on track. My realtor (and friend) Jenny, was extremely helpful letting a plumber in my house to do repairs while I was at work and reminding me of even more papers I needed to sign.

For my going away party, I hired a taco cart, a bar tender, and rented some cocktail tables. I wanted to have one last celebration in my house and go out in style. I put in a lot of effort to design the back yard of my dreams and it was a perfect spot for entertaining. But throwing a party is work. The party was a blast and I couldn’t have been happier to see my friends. I even made a DIY photo booth, which was great fun! The party flew by so fast, I felt like I didn’t even get a chance to talk to people. It was a lot of “hellos” and then “goodbyes”. I didn’t feel sad to be saying goodbye. I felt incredibly blessed to have all these wonderful, smart, kind people in my life. I had been in California for 15 years and I was proud of the life I made there. Not to brag, but I really do have amazingly talented friends that are a blast to be around. It was a night I’ll remember forever.

My last week at work was full of events. On Wednesday, I had the traditional “goodbye happy hour” at a local restaurant called Geezers. I had attended too many to count for people leaving the company and it was strange having one for me. I felt so honored that people took the time out of their night to stop by and say goodbye and have a drink. On Thursday, the Vice President at my company was retiring after 33 years of service. I had worked with her on several projects so I was very happy to be celebrating with her. There was a huge celebration that day with catered food in the courtyard. Then Friday came, my last day. My department had decorated my desk and brought in goodies to celebrate and wish me well. I still had to finish some projects at work but by that afternoon, I finally told my boss that I wouldn’t be able to finish some of it and it was unreasonable to think I’d actually do work on my last day (others who had a last day that day came in for a couple of hours to say goodbye and left). I was very stressed out trying to send out my goodbye email, saying goodbyes in person, eating delicious snacks, and trying to move electronic files over.

I still couldn’t process anything. It’s a weird feeling knowing you should be feeling something, but you just can’t. I was so busy trying to finish stuff and had dinner plans that evening. Plus I had less than a week to be out of my house and hadn’t even packed. I was happy at the thought of adventure and felt confident that’d I’d see these people again one day. Plus technology helps to stay in touch. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with the branch manager, Andy, that I started to feel it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him for his intelligence and his character. He asked about my plans and we chatted about it. But then at the end he said, “Christy, you made such an impact here, not just in terms of your work, but you became part of this place. You became part of the people. Not many people do that. It will be noticeable when you leave.” I got chocked up and knew if I talked much, I’d start to cry. Those words meant so much to me and I will never forget them. I knew it was all starting to hit me.

I left work at 6pm (and had to go in the next morning for a few hours to clean out my desk). That evening I went out with some friends to the Standard in Los Angeles. We had a great time and I loved seeing the sun set on the city high-rises. The next few days were hectic to say the least. I had to be out of the house on Wednesday at 5:00pm. I had finally scheduled movers to come that morning but still didn’t even have a storage unit rented. Thankfully, I no longer had work so I spent the next few days renting a unit, dropping stuff off at Goodwill, and selling items on Facebook Marketplace. I barely slept for a few days. I kept waking up early, even though I would go to bed very late (around 2-3am). This was not like me (I normally struggle to wake up in the morning) so I knew I must be under more stress than I realized. In the process of doing all of this over a few days, I met a friend for tacos, had two friends over for dinner, had lunch with another friend, and had multiple doctor appointments.

Then the day came, moving day. I was up early to finish packing. The movers came and started to load up. The stressful thing about moving into storage is every item I picked up I had to ask myself, “Is this worth paying for storage? Do I need to bring it with me? Should I sell it? Should I donate it? Should I give it to a friend? Should I throw it away?” I plan on traveling for around a year so I needed winter and summer clothes. I didn’t want to buy these items again later (especially since I was now unemployed) but I was trying to travel light. For items I was planning to take with me, I just sort of throw it all together in various bags and suitcases. The movers didn’t finish unloading into storage (thankfully it all fit!) until around 3:30pm.

I was exhausted, sweaty, and dirty. I still had to clean my house so I asked my realtor if I could have until 7:00pm. The buyers only gave me until 6:30pm. I raced home and frantically cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, and cleaned the counters. You know the end scene of Adventures in Babysitting where they have to clean the house and pretend nothing happened? That’s the scene at my house as I attempted to make the house presentable. I had the items I planned on taking with me in my car but too many items that I needed to sort through and either add to storage (like my vacuum) or simply empty, like all the food in two refrigerators. My realtor came over and loaded her car since my car was too full. As I finished cleaning up and emptying the refrigerators, I only had about two minutes to stop and say goodbye to my house.

At 6:25pm, a car pulled up and I was afraid it was the buyers and I didn’t want to see them. I got in my car and then saw their realtor walking up the driveway. I got out and he asked where the keys were so I showed him in the backyard. I was standing on the side of the house in between my car and the back gate. The realtor told me how exciting it was that I was going to travel. And all of a sudden, it hit me. I always knew it would hit me suddenly but I honestly thought it would be in a couple of weeks once everything had changed in my life. It didn’t just hit me, it punched me. My throat immediately had a knot in it and I was on the verge of crying. I didn’t want this realtor that I had just met to see me cry so I barely spoke. I told the realtor that I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to my house. I touched the side of my house with my palm and said “Goodbye house”.

I hurried off to my car because I could feel the tears coming. As I backed my car out of the driveway, tears starting flooding down my face. The pain in my chest was overwhelming. I looked at the front of my house as I backed up and instantly a flood of memories come flashing back to me. Happy memories of when my ex-husband and I bought the house and how happy he was to have a house to call our own. I saw the time he planted all the plants, cut the grass, put up the backsplash in the kitchen, and installed the bathroom fan. I had asked him to move out 2 years prior and I filed for divorce 6 months later. What surprised me is that I hadn’t thought about him very much over the last year. The first year apart (after 9.5 years of marriage) was an almost unbearable amount of pain, sadness, and grief. I thought I was finally doing better. When I did think about him, it was more about what lessons I could learn so I don’t repeat the same mistakes. But in that moment of pulling away from the house, it was nothing but happy memories. Memories of the life we had built together. Memories of having a partner. I thought I had come to terms with the fact that a house is just a house, it’s just a material thing. But the memories that were still tied to the house surprised me and hit me to my core. As I drove to my friend Valerie’s apartment to stay for a few days, the tears wouldn’t stop. That’s when I knew this was going to be a lot harder than I thought.

Posted Edited by: Misty Kosek

Why am I doing this?

It was the end of 2017 that I saw how much money the house a few down from my house sold for. It was the exact same size as my house and I was blown away by how much the housing market in southern California had gone up in the last few years. A few days later, a realtor knocked on my door asking if I wanted to sell my house because they needed inventory. I started to seriously consider selling. When I visited Norway a few months prior, I didn’t want to leave and when I returned to Los Angeles, I didn’t want to be back. I had been living in Los Angeles for almost 15 years and loved it, most of the time. This time, as I sat in the uber on the way home, I felt sad to no longer be traveling, irritated with the smog and traffic in Los Angeles. Usually I felt at least relieved to be back “home” to rest and get back in the swing of things.

When the neighbor’s house sold and a realtor knocked on my door, I felt that maybe this was my opportunity to travel. If I got enough money for my house, I could quit my job and travel for quite a while. In addition to travel, I had been thinking of making a documentary about higher education. I had an opportunity to create several videos at my corporate job in the last 2 years and it reminded me that’s why I majored in broadcasting and film, because that’s what I love to do. I was also trying to finish a book I was writing about the time I hiked the John Muir Trail solo in 2016. Quitting my job would allow me to focus on the book and the documentary.

I started working at age 16 (technically I had a paper route at age 13) and full-time at age 18. I worked full time all through college and finished in 4 years. Immediately after college, I continued to work full time. I joined Target as a team leader and after about 1-1/2 years, I was promoted to Executive Team Leader. After being at Target for 5 years, I left and joined McMaster-Carr Supply Company. In the 11 years I worked there, I was promoted twice and had many opportunities to work on high level projects. While I enjoyed the people and the opportunities, I was feeling stagnant (and exhausted) and that God was leading me to another path.

I spent the next 6 months quietly planning my departure. I did repairs on my house, getting it ready to sell. I hosted several family members so they could visit one last time while they had free housing in Los Angeles. I tried to do some things in the city that I hadn’t done before. McMaster-Carr had recently moved me to manage a new department at work and I worked really hard to make sure I still made an impact in the 6 months I was in the department. It was important for me to leave on a good note.

At the end of April, I listed my house for sale. My realtor had two open houses over the weekend and told buyers that I’d accept offers by that Wednesday. I ended up with 5 offers and I countered on 3 of the offers. After negotiations, I accepted an offer and put another in backup. However, I decided not to give my resignation until all the contingencies were removed. I had a very unusual situation selling my condo a few years before when two different buyers fell through at the last-minute.

I hadn’t told many people about my plans because I didn’t want it spreading to coworkers prematurely. So on May 24th when I put in my resignation, many people were surprised. Actually putting in my notice was extremely nerve wrecking. It made it all real. There was no going back. I gave just over 3 weeks notice so I could wrap up stuff at work. I told them my last day would be June 15th (almost exactly 11 years from when I started) and time seemed to speed up, like warp speed.

Post Edited by: Misty Kosek