On Feb. 4, 2008, a slightly nervous Southern belle-cum-New Yorker, who was about as jittery as a coffee addict on his second week of withdrawal, boarded a JetBlue flight taking her away from all things she knew and which comforted her to a vast, unfamiliar landscape called California. She had no jobs lined up, no friends of which to speak in her new ‘hood, and no clue if the decision—packing up her life and completing changing course, all for a boy—was the right one.
She almost didn’t do it. In fact, over Christmas just a month prior, they discussed if it truly was the smart choice. She was leaving her in-house gigs of magazine editing in the global mecca for publishing, and had never once tried to make it as a freelancer. Sure, she had perseverance and drive, but would that be enough to make it—or a recipe to break it? She had cold feet, and up until the last minute, she didn’t know if she’d actually make it onto that plane. After all, while they’d known each other two-and-a-half years, they had only spent one of those in the same zip code, and that was living in a fairytale world far away from reality.
It worked out, of course—the job, the boy; but you all know that—and now she’s engaged to him, set to be married on May 22, 2010, after a 367-day engagement. She has more work than she could even imagine: Though it’s not always what she wants to be doing and she spends more time hustling for gigs than actual writing, she realizes in such a crappy job market, a steady income stream is a blessing, no matter how it materializes (edited to add: OK, it does slightly matter how it materializes; stripping and selling one’s organs on the black market are not jobs that she necessarily endorses). She has friends who would bend over backward to help her in a pinch, close gal pals who were introduced to her via this space on the Internet, and others who are just a car ride (or flight) away, littered along the West Coast.
It’s ironic, yes, that on her two-year anniversary she will finally spend her first night in her new city home, after all the long drives and nights of dreaming of the day she’d finally be a city dweller again. You see, in an effort to save money, pay off some debt and eventually be able to afford a house to call their own, they worked their way down the Bay Area Peninsula, from his hometown of South San Francisco to San Mateo. Little bits of their collective soul died here and there living in such places where “the sidewalk rolls up at 8pm,” as her friend John—also a Peninsula resident—might say, but they knew the end result would be that much sweeter. (Plus, she being a social creature made it a point to line up activities in the city at least every other day, so she didn’t fall prey to the curse of suburbia.)
Two years ago, she was trapped in an oscillating cycle—in both a professional and personal sense—from which she didn’t know if she’d ever find her way out. New York tends to do that to a girl, especially the wandering, lost twentysomethings it so often attracts, only to pick them up, beat them down repetitively like an abused puppy who doesn’t know any better but to keep coming back for more, and then scrape them off the sidewalk—wash, rinse, repeat.
Then, he came along; he gave her hope, he gave her an escape route, he gave her love. He gave her a second family far from her own, a home in a place more beautiful than she could ever imagine. And for all of that, she will be eternally grateful. Of course she is, it’s why she agreed to marry the boy after all.