My last post was about my peaceful camping trip over Thanksgiving, and the calm before the whirlwind that awaited us the following month as we prepared for our big move. Here it is almost February now, and I cannot fully explain what the last two months have held for me. We’re finally starting to get settled into our new home and our new city, and it is hard to believe that just 5 weeks ago we were still in San Diego and a completely different life. There have been some ups and downs, but overall this transition has been as smooth and positive as I could have hoped. And now I can sit back and reflect on everything that has occurred, including our exciting road trip from San Diego to Seattle and our eventual settling in Portland.
As I have mentioned many times (because hey, I’m proud!), I grew up in the pacific northwest. I had been in southern California for 9 years, and hadn’t returned to my home state of Washington since the summer of 2009. All of my remaining family members moved out of state shortly after I did, so I never had the opportunity to visit. To say that I was longing for cold weather, beautiful lush forests, and snow capped mountains didn’t even begin to cover it.
I decided many years ago that I wanted to move back up, but southern California has this way of sinking its teeth into you so that even if you want to leave, you just don’t. It creates this sense of complacency where you simply stop trying to make changes, even those that are necessary for your growth. I knew after only 3 months in San Diego that it wasn’t for me, but had been stuck in this financial, mental, and emotional black hole for 5 years. Eventually I stopped believing that I would ever be free, and each day my despair grew.
I have learned more and more over time that things will only change when you’re ready, and the time is right. My time finally came and not only did I get to move up to Portland, which I had been wanting for years, but I was also able to spend the holidays in Washington for the first time in nearly a decade. As exciting as it all was, change is rarely easy and wrapping up our life in CA was no different.
In my very first post I explained my negative relationship with San Diego, and how I finally began coming to terms with my own role in my misery. I feel as though this was a turning point, and once I started to break out and enjoy life again it started a chain reaction. I was finally allowing myself to see a future again, and that is when everything began to change. People and events were presenting themselves and telling us the time was coming, and we were mentally preparing ourselves for the big move. I even packed up our apartment! After years of struggle we finally had the financial means to move, and everything seemed to fall into place.
However, this was exactly when Jeremy was hospitalized. Months of rehabilitation started to give us a more bleak outlook again, but we tried to remain positive that everything would work out and focus on what we wanted. When big changes are on the horizon it is not uncommon for roadblocks to present themselves, whether caused by outside forces or created within ourselves.
And then something wonderful happened: I got laid off. Though I have a remote job that I work at home, I was also working part time at a clinic in San Diego. My employers knew I was planning to leave already and offered to let me stay on as long as I needed to, but with a general end in mind. So, did I find a new job and commit to more time in San Diego, or did I take this as the kick in the pants that it was and get this show on the road? I chose the latter, and began to get the wheels in motion for a December move.
I have found in the past that when time is up, whether it is in a city, at a particular job, or in a relationship, there tend to be obvious signs. And with everything that had happened it was so up in the air as to our next course of action, so the universe then gave me my bright neon sign that it was the right time to make the move. Jeremy was hesitant, of course, as he still had weeks of physical therapy left and at the time wasn’t sure whether he would need surgery. Even though we knew that we was healing well, he was afraid and that caused much hesitation on his part. I knew that I couldn’t stay, it just wasn’t feasible for me to begin a new job at this point. Then there was the issue of where to stay once we touched down in the city, as we didn’t really know anybody there (or so we thought at the time). I had more faith that everything would work out, but Jeremy just couldn’t seem to fully give in to this idea. Upon speaking with some friends up in Seattle, they suggested that we drive directly there instead and spend the Christmas holiday with them before heading back down to Portland. I was elated at the idea of spending Christmas in Washington, and many of my friends had migrated to Seattle over the last few years so I was excited at the prospect of seeing people I hadn’t seen in years! Jeremy was finally on board now that there was more of a plan, and that was it! We put in our notice at our jobs, and began making the rest of our preparations for the move.
At this point Jeremy’s leg began healing even quicker and he found out that he would not require surgery. He had been filled with panic at all of the unknowns, but once we had a definitive plan and put that out into the universe it was amazing how many things fell into place. We had both been letting our fears hold us back but once we gave in and just let everything play out, the signs just kept rolling in one after another.
We were both sad to be leaving California, we aren’t leaving with any ill will in our hearts but we know that our time is finished. The experiences that I had living in Los Angeles will be treasured forever, and even my time in San Diego brought about some good moments. Southern California is an absolutely amazing place, and it was strange to be leaving after spending 1/3 of my life there. But I’m just not that person anymore, the 22 year old makeup artist working in an art store, suntanning on my roof with a view of the Hollywood sign and soaking up everything being a young girl in LA could offer. I was a different person when I moved there, and my goals just no longer aligned with my surroundings.
Even though we knew we were making the right decision, leaving it behind hasn’t been without its hardships and our last month in particular was a whirlwind. In early December several fires broke out in the Los Angeles and San Diego regions, some of which even caused temporary closure of multiple main freeways. They were burning for quite some time, one of them only being put out halfway through January. Though in the end we were unaffected by these tragedies, it did cause some slight concern as to whether we would be able to get out when we needed to.
Then came a more personal tragedy, something unexpected and devastating. My father’s family lives in Orange County, which included my grandmother who was 84 years old and whose health had been deteriorating. I had been trying to visit as often as possible over the last few years, and I knew that once I left I would never see her again. I had visited her for Thanksgiving, and planned to visit one last time on the way through when we left. Then, a week and a half before our move date, she went into the hospital and I got the call that she was going to be taken off of life support. We were going to be spending the weekend packing, as this was the second to last weekend before our move and some of our only free time. We dropped everything and spent the weekend in LA so I could visit her in the hospital and say goodbye.
Then, as we were making our way up to see her the most absurdly outrageous event occurred: we witnesses a plane crash. As we were driving on the freeway a small plane flew over us, and we watched curiously as it seemed to be wobbling and going a bit too fast for what we thought was a landing. It disappeared behind some trees and we assumed they would swoop back up to reattempt their landing. When they never reappeared, and seconds later there was a thick black cloud of smoke, we realized they hadn’t made it. It was horrifying to see, and we later discovered that people were killed, as well as animals in the house where it crashed. Already distraught over the loss soon to come, I was now warring with processing this tragic event I had somehow been a witness to and entered a state of shock.
We finally made it to the hospital where I spent some time with my grandmother, holding her hands and attempting to soothe her as I could see her suffering. She opened her eyes briefly only once over the course of the two days I was there, and I take some comfort in the hope that she knew I was there with her. I said goodbye to her for the last time, and went back to San Diego where I awaited the news. My grandmother was taken off of life support just two days after I left, and though I anticipated it all day the news was still devastating. I reached my breaking point where I finally had to just stop, I was going to lose my mind under this assault of stress and negative events I was experiencing. I had to allow myself a break, some time to mourn and not worry about what else was going on.
Thankfully I was able to use another day or two from my vacation hours and I just spent this time packing, watching holiday movies, and occasionally crying through my grief and stress. The passing of a loved one is never going to be convenient, there is never a right or wrong time. I can honestly say that I am glad it happened when it did though, and that I was able to be there to say goodbye and offer her some comfort.
With all of this insanity in my life, I couldn’t help but notice that with each stressful event or situation came some positive counterpart. Having already packed so much of my apartment months prior, I was able to spent those two days in LA without worrying about the move at all. I had also been saving my vacation hours for our move, but had to use them early due to my grandmother’s passing. I was worrying about how I was going to keep up with my work while on the road and staying at various hotels and houses, which was only adding to the stress I was currently under. Every day I had to just remind myself that everything would work out.
Suddenly I received an email out of the blue from my manager, notifying me that we all had the last two weeks of the year (the exact time of my move) off, and that we would be paid. I actually broke down sobbing out of relief when I read this, it was such an enormous blessing in such a dark time. Having been with this company for 5 1/2 years and having never received paid time off like this, I was certainly not expecting anything of the sort. So many other little things worked out and our last week in San Diego went as smoothly as we could hope at that point. So while our current life was still trying to throw wrench after wrench in our plans, the new life that was waiting for us was simultaneously trying to lift us up and tell us everything would be okay.
The time finally came and we were actually prepared! We loaded up our “ReloCube” on Wednesday night, and by Thursday afternoon we were on the road to Orange County. This was just days before Christmas, so the holiday traffic was definitely already presenting a challenge. Leaving San Diego behind and knowing that this time we would not be returning was a weight off of my shoulders, and I breathed a sigh of relief once we exited the county.
We stayed the night with my aunt, who had just returned from my grandmother’s funeral in PA the night before, so I was able to visit with her and say goodbye before we hit the road the next day. Our original plan was to stay with friends in LA on Friday, leave early on Saturday and then arrive in Seattle on Christmas Eve. However, our car was overloaded with too much stuff to lug in and out, and leaving a packed car in a lot in downtown LA was not so appealing. We chose instead to just head out and give ourselves more time in case we hit any bad weather in the mountain passes. After stopping to say goodbye to a friend we were on the road, and on the way to our new life.
So now finally on to the more exciting stuff! The first day wasn’t nearly as interesting, as the scenery in central California just isn’t anything to write home about. You’re greeted with some lovely sights as you make your way through the Grapevine on the way out of Los Angeles, but like in most of the area the road is packed with cars.
It started to clear up as we came out onto the floor, but the scenery also changed and we entered the long stretch of flat farmland.
As we made it further north we began to see a change in landscape, but it grew dark shortly after and we eventually stopped for the night in Redding.
At the recommendation of a friend we used Hotels Tonight to locate and book a hotel, and it definitely made our trip easier since we were not having to scramble to find accommodations at the last minute and the price was much more reasonable. We got an early start the next day and it was such a beautiful and refreshing morning. We were both so excited for this second half of the trip as we were going through the mountain passes and the weather was clear, so we were about to be treated with the gorgeous NW scenery and didn’t have to worry about any snow on the roads. The next 6 or so hours of our drive featured sprawling forests, snowy mountains, blue skies, and fresh air.
Eventually, about an hour outside of Portland we were greeted with the typical PNW welcome: a heavy rain shower. It cleared up and we eventually made it through Portland and into Washington.
I was so thrilled to be back in my home state, and we finally made it to Seattle that night where we were greeted with warm welcomes. Though we were exhausted from the long days in our small car, we had a blast taking in the beauty around us, listening to music, and discussing what was to come. It turns out that we had made the right decision leaving early, as the region was hit with snow the next day and I doubt we would have made it through the pass as easily. I was disappointed that we couldn’t take our time and stop to check out some of the parks and beautiful sights along the way, but making this trek in winter just didn’t allow us to take any chances. Once we were in WA we received snow for roughly three days, giving us an amazing white Christmas and the chance to explore the snowy forests around the area. Our Washington adventures over the next week are for another day though, and here ends the tale of our trip from San Diego to Seattle. We’re thankful to have made it safe and sound, and to finally be on to the next chapter in our lives.
What are you excited for this year, any big plans or new adventures?
If you’ve made a big out of state move, what did you enjoy or find challenging?
What are your favorite sights along this drive?