Nose to the sky, we fly through the crisp December air splitting the clouds into millions of pieces.
This setting is familiar.
My legs sit on the plastic leather seat. Iced coffee to my right. The sky is painted with city lights that glimmer along the black horizon. A man made Milky Way.
Where are you off to?
I take the large headphones off my head and rest them around my neck.
Boston. Well, duh, But I mean after we land. Boston, Boston, or like Worcester Boston? He inquires. Haha, well, right outside. I’m on the red line. Does that count? I guess so.
He asks me where my accent is.
I tell him I left it at Logan airport in September. I’m going to pick it up at Terminal A when we land.
I snap a picture of the sunrise.
Have you ever seen one of those before? What? A sunrise.
He’s sarcastic, but so am I. I understand the language.
No, I haven’t. I’m hoping to share this phenomenon with my Instagram followers. Maybe make it on National Geographic or something.
It’s a smooth trip so far.
I tell him about the time I was shot 6 feet in the air on my way back from Ann Arbor due to severe turbulence.
6 feet, huh? And you lived to tell the tale?
I’m here, aren’t I?
He rolls up the sleeves of his black and red checkered flannel and scratches his 5 o’clock shadow.
The clouds remind me of unicorn toast. The rainbow clouds, like butter, are lightly spread across the soft blue sky.
I tell him about this comparison.
He tells me that the unicorn trend is dumb.
I nod in agreement. He doesn’t need to know that I follow a unicorn toast account on Instagram.
The ice in my coffee is melting. I tell him to stop distracting me so I don’t waste my $3.42 that I spent on this beverage.
Iced coffee in the winter, huh? You’re a true Massachusetts gal I guess.
We talk about our confusion with Wawa. Why do people love gas station food so much? It puzzles us. I tell him that I went to the new Dupont location and was overwhelmed and grabbed a Greek salad from across the street instead.
It’s refreshing to chat New England things with a fellow New Englander. I tell him this.
You flatter me.
I roll my eyes.
Haha, you’re right though. DC chat can be sort of exhausting sometimes, right? Like, I’m just trying to enjoy my beer why you gotta bring up tax reform?
I laugh. I can empathize.
We start to descend. 20 minutes until we land, the pilot tells us.
The clouds begin to break. I can see the ocean beneath us. I don’t fear flying, but my stomach turns ever so slightly when we are above water.
I close my eyes.
You can’t nap now. We’re about to land and you need to keep me distracted because I get nervous when I fly over water.
I smile and look at him. For a moment, I forget my fear of crashing into the deep depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
The ice in my coffee is melted. I take a sip anyways.
Ugh, this tastes like pond water now, I complain. Sorry, I think I have $3 in my wallet, but you’re gunna have to come up with the 42 cents.
How about you just buy me a coffee in DC?
It was like word vomit.
Did I just ask this guy out? What the actual fuck Beth. Here we are, two strangers casually chatting on a plane, nervous AF flying over the Atlantic Ocean and you just made it weird. Gr8. Awesome. Well done.
Suddenly, crashing into the deep depths of the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t sound half bad.
Coffees are more expensive in DC, he responds, that doesn’t seem fair.
I turn red and my stomach is still twisting — and it’s not because of the water. I snort out a laugh as a nervous reaction. I don’t use “snort” for literary effect. I use it to describe the actual sound that came out of my mouth.
How about this, he suggests, I’ll buy you a $5 cappuccino from some trendy coffee shop, but then you gotta pick up the $1.58 and get me a scone or something.
A scone? I scoff at him. How about a bagel? My stomach starts to feel normal again.
Fine. Just make sure they don’t overdo it on the cream cheese.
The wheels hit the runway and the plane shakes. I hold onto what’s left of my pond water. Coffee, I mean. At this point they are one in the same.
The giant tower stood before me. “WELCOME, UMASS CLASS OF 2015” the banner read in bold crimson letters. 15th floor. Corner room. A lofted bed. My mother’s fight to hold back her tears. We had already unloaded my father’s truck of Rubbermaid plastic drawers, a $12.99 bright blue desk lamp from Target, over a hundred photos of my high school friends and a Jersey Shore poster. A new chapter.
My items were scattered around my living room. Socks and underwear tied in a plastic bag sitting next to my hiking boots and cork wedges. “I’m going to put your passport in this pocket,” my mom said. 2 large suitcases and a carry-on. A blank journal and a journey with unwritten adventures. Mom lifted her sunglasses from her eyes at the airport, “You know you have to come home at some point. Don’t fall in love and leave me for Cape Town forever.” Bye, Mom. Bye, Dad. Love you.
Blue and red flashing lights filled my rear-view. 3am. 5 more hours on the road. “Why are you on this level? Do you realize how dangerous this is? What is in the back of your van?” Um, a bedand some clothes. “Next time, don’t drive on the compact car level of the George Washington bridge when you’re a large U-Haul van.” Sorry, officer.
I looked to my right as my mom dozed back off. I peaked out the window and looked at the sky. Life as I knew it was currently packed away in black trash bags and a saran wrapped mattress in the back of a 10′ van driving atop a bridge we weren’t supposed to be on.
We reached our destination just as the sun started to rise. An unfamiliar territory painted with light pinks and oranges on the horizon and one too many Starbucks. My new life. My new life was…here. Here. Here for as long as I wanted it to be here.
I’ve grown accustomed to moving. “Home” has taken on a new meaning ever since my parents sold my childhood home. To me, home used to mean the tangible aspects of a house. The familiar stain on the carpet that mom could never seem to wash out. The seconds it took for the upstairs shower to warm up. The stack of DVDs collecting dust you promised your parents you’d watch all of the time. You know, the little things that could just be expected. They were just, well, there.
I recently left the place that I’ve called “home” in DC the past 2.5 years (has it really been that long?). I moved roughly a 6 minute walk away so you’re probably like why you gotta be so emotional???
I didn’t expect to be either.
The morning my application went through I was practically skipping around town. “I’m going to THRIVE in my own bachelorette pad!!!” I texted all of my friends. I had done the whole roommate thing for the past 6 or so years of my life and while I’ve lived with some of the best (and worst) girls of my life, I’m just at a point in my life where I’m just like, over it. Just ready to be on my own. Ya feel me?
The next thing I knew I was staring at my empty bedroom in Dorchester House fighting back unexpected tears. This was my home. But, like, not the kind of home I used to call home. The kind of home that I made for myself. This apartment has seen every facet of my life since I moved here — the best moments and the worst.
Empty pizza boxes, stained coffee mugs & a broken blind that never got fixed. New friends, random hookups & people who didn’t turn out to be who I wanted them to be. Stacks of training manuals from restaurant jobs and freelance contracts. Times of pure joy jumping on my bed in a sports bra and plaid pajama shorts following a grad school acceptance and times of tear-soaked pillow cases following a string of lies and vulnerability.
Late nights sitting cross-legged in my bed, candles lit with a journal and pen in hand. Early mornings of pinks and orange painted sunrises through my window. Afternoons of sitting at the dining room table hitting “submit application” hundreds of times.
It’s been a journey with a familiar narrative to some.
A young twenty-something attempting to navigate through messy twists and turns, trying to please everyone by making all the right choices yet not really knowing if the right choices for those other people are the right choices for yourself. Blissfully lost. Frustrated yet hopeful. Tired yet resilient.
Wordy, but familiar. Right?
My friend and I packed the UHaul van* last Thursday evening not knowing how much shit I actually had (isn’t that how it always works?) and drove approx 2 blocks to my new home (lolz). Two large iced coffess, one free pizza and many ‘OMFG my back hurts’ later, we finally finished the moving process at 2am. Did I mention how fabulous my friends are?
Shit was everywhere, the couch was in pieces scattered across my living room and my new kitchen was blocked by an influx of trash bags filled with more of my random shit. I knocked out on my bare mattress shortly after and rolled out of bed the next morning for work.
Welp, I was moved in. I had a new home and I don’t have a roommate. Weird.
*This was an extremely abridged version of what actually happened. The studio I thought I was moving into all month got ripped from under me the afternoon before Thanksgiving as I was on my way to drop off my signed lease and I didn’t find an alternative until 3 days before I had to be out of my old apartment. LOL LIFE MAN
One week later, my couch is assembled and the place is slowly coming together. I honestly haven’t had much time to be all ~zen~ and reflect on my new bachelorette pad, but I think that time will come when all of the trash bags of random shit are put in their proper places. For the time being, I’ve been praising the dishwasher and food disposal in my sink. I always told myself the day that I have those two things in my apartment is the day I know I’ve made it.
I’m excited to see what memories this place will bring. New friends & f*ckboys; empty pizza boxes & stained coffee mugs. The usual, but different.
Well, hopefully no f*ckboys this time around.
Cheers to new adventures! Thanks to everyone who have made the past 2.5 years in DC worth hanging around for. Y’all are invited to my Christmas/house warming party I accidentally planned the night before all of my final papers are due. #Blessed.
The scariest part of moving away wasn’t anything having to do with finances or mental stability. People asked me time and time again if I was scared, and I would always reply with, “No, I’m just excited,” which was the honest truth.
Oftentimes we avoid jumping into the unknown because we’re afraid of what life might throw our way. Difficult times are easier to face when you’re surrounded with people who know you well enough to get you through it.
But what happens when you don’t have that safety net?
It was about a week ago where loneliness set in. I laid in my bed as the tears started to fall and suddenly I missed my friends and family more than I had since arriving here. I wish I could text someone to got to Chili’s for lunch and spend hours gossiping and talking about people and places we both knew.
I’ve met dozens of people since getting here whom have been nothing short of welcoming and kind. My roommate’s amazing and my coworkers have shown me that Tuesdays can be just as fun as Saturdays. It has nothing to do with my failure to make new friends.
I just missed the familiar, I guess.
The next day was a huge day in DC. The Pope had arrived and the entire city shut down for him (am I supposed to capitalize Him?). It was a monumental event including a parade open to the public right by the White House. After my slight cry-fest the night before, I woke up early enough to go see him. However, I couldn’t find anyone to go with.
Suddenly, I didn’t really want to go.
I texted my friend, “Is it weird that I go and see the Pope alone?” “Of course not, it’s the pope,” he replied. I suppose he was right. If I had no plans during the day and I failed to participate in this huge event, I was definitely doing something wrong. I tied up my running shoes and headed down to the monuments.
I felt kind of awkward at first being alone in a huge crowd, but I glanced next to me and there was another guy about my age walking alone too. Alright, so I’m not the only one. I thought to myself. We walked next to each other and passed the religious extremists shouting/preaching/hating or whatever you want to call it and we gave each other a look that said “What is wrong with some people?”
The look sparked a conversation and he said to me, “I wonder what must have happened to them growing up that they turned out like that.” I laughed and agreed, and from there we spent the rest of the morning together. I had underestimated the time that it was going to take to actually see the Pope, so it was definitely nice having friend there for 2 hours to keep me company.
Conversation with him came easy, he was staying in DC for a co-op through Northeastern University (small world!) and the majority of what we talked about revolved around entering the real world and what it feels like to be a post-grad. He was only a junior, but working in the accounting field during tax season made it feel like he was already in the real world. Oh, and we also bonded over the fact that we were both STARVING.
Our conversation continued and it was as if I had known him forever. It was nice being able to have an in-depth conversation with a new face for once. Oftentimes with people we just meet, conversations are seemingly superficial and we let ourselves believe that we’re only capable of something deeper with people who have been in our lives for a long time. But, I guess when you’re two 20-somethings alone together for hours on end, small talk can only last so long.
The sun burnt my shoulders as we waited for the Pope-mobile to drive by. I had constant dry-mouth from lack of water and my phone battery was quickly diminishing because, you know, I just had to get everything on my Snapstory. We shared these similar first-world problems which made the time go by quicker. This interaction couldn’t have come at a better time after my tear-filled night.
Well, I guess the solution was going to one of the most talked about events in America completely by myself.
I don’t know why I felt super self conscious going to see the Pope alone…I mean, like, it’s pretty freaking cool that I got to see him. I guess I’m just used to always having someone. And here, that’s not always the case.
Since that day, I’ve learned to embrace being alone. When you constantly surround yourself with the familiar, you fail to recognize the unfamiliar, which can be way cooler sometimes. I don’t mind sitting down at a coffee place by myself for hours, I don’t mind trekking to Georgetown to shop without a second opinion by my side.
The beauty of moving to a new place is that you get to create your life how you want to. It’s a clean slate; a chance to put yourself out there in your most vulnerable state. It’s a chance to see life beyond the familiar, beyond the expectations you set.
Because, who knows? You could have an ongoing conversation with a complete stranger for 4 hours next time the pope comes to visit. This guy reminded me that you’re never alone as you think you are. He reminded me that life isn’t meant to be lived by familiar standards, that vulnerability can lead to awesome experiences.
Or, maybe you’ll meet the right people and get invited on a yacht as a blind date…stay tuned, my friends.
The night of August 22nd, my mom, sister, and I packed my life in a UHaul van. Inside was my bed, new dresser, and endless bags of random sh*t. We were expected to leave at midnight and make it to our destination by 8am the next morning, but we hit the road after dinner instead because naps are for squids.
I gripped the truck with both hands the entire ride (surprisingly, big trucks don’t come with instruction manuals) and I was leaving the city that I had called my home for the past 22 years to start a new life in the nation’s capital.
Did I mention that I am unemployed? Lol.
Boston had my name written all over it. I left job opportunities, friends, family, flings, you name it. Not that I would have been miserable moving to Southie or Somerville, I was just ready to leave that life behind. I didn’t come to DC with a plan, all I knew was that I had a roof over my head and a few month’s rent in my savings account.
Some called me crazy to pack up my life and move away without a job, and others called me brave. Although I appreciated the compliment (or lack thereof), I wouldn’t classify myself as either.
I’m just a girl who wanted to move away…so I did.
So Beth, how’d ya do it?!
STEP 1 OF MOVING AWAY UNEMPLOYED: HAVE ENOUGH MONEY SAVED TO AVOID HOMELESSNESS.
Living at home is always the safest plan financially, and to be quite frank I’m not sure how I’m going to pay my loans on top of my rent and living expenses come December. That being said, I worked my ass off this summer and missed out on a lot fun stuff with friends but I knew I needed to be able to make it down here…at least for a few months. The rest I’ll figure out as I go.
You don’t need to have 10 grand in your savings, you just need enough to give yourself a cushion until your income becomes more steady.
Long story short, I spent $250 to make a video resumé with a complete stranger I found on Craigslist (literally).
I sent a few texts back and forth with this CL videographer dude and he seemed normal and offered an affordable rate so we met up in Boston one day and filmed for 6 hours–again, not kidding. Don’t knock CL until you try it. Statistics show that most aren’t Craigslist killers…I think.
If you were too lazy to click on my video link, I encourage you to scroll up and do so. It got over 200 likes on Facebook…it’s the real deal.
I’m trying to go into the PR field which is what inspired the “life story” theme. The business is all about being able to sell your brand and story so I came up with a creative way of showing that. I ran around Boston and got a lot of rejections and eye rolls…but I also met a lot of amazing people and shot some great footage for pretty goddamn cheap.
The videographer’s name is Ben Zackin who has a video business based out of Vermont. As you can see…he’s kind of awesome. He brought my jumbled thoughts to life and created what turned out be an incredible end product. Check out more of Ben’s stuff here, he’s pretty much the sh*t.
Anyways, back to DC.
STEP 3 OF MOVING AWAY UNEMPLOYED: BE GOOD AT INSTAGRAM…I GUESS?
I started the job hunt grind the day after I got here. I searched on Craigslist under the “food/bev/hosp” section for a waitressing or bartending gig to make quick cash to supplement my income for the time being. I immediately got an email back from a tequila bar downtown…and the same day I was employed.
Day 2 of DC: Employed (technically).
The day I was hired as a waitress I Instagrammed this photo:
I didn’t think much of it. I just wanted the world to know that I wasn’t about to enter into a downward financial spiral and burn up in flames after paying my September rent (just kidding, I just wanted an excuse to Insta).
Well, apparently the owner of the restaurant LOVED the photo and the amount of likes it got–the power of social media, bro. The first time I met him in person he immediately complimented my picture and then asked what my story was.
Well, uh, I moved here from Boston without a job and here I am.He asked what field I was going into and I told him I was applying to jobs in PR. As it turns out, his fiancé is pretty big in PR down here…life, man. He then told me to shoot over my resumé (awesome! connections!!!! networking!!!) and he’d help me out. Before I had even had the chance to, I received this email from him the very next morning:
Not only was he offering to help with my job search…he extended an invite to “chat more” about a full time position within their company. I replied instantly with my resumé and the video I had created with Ben.
The next day I walked into work and started getting compliments on my video and the Instagram picture (perks of being a ~*filter expert*~). He had been sending my video around to the management team and they were loving it.
I refreshed my email after my shift and got offered an official interview for the marketing and events associate position he had mentioned in the email. I couldn’t decide if I was excited or just extremely confused about how quick and easy things had started falling into place.
In less than 2 weeks of being in DC: I applied to a restaurant I found on CL, posted an Instagram picture, sent my resumé to the owner, and now I was getting offered an interview for a really awesome job working with really cool people…with benefits (and free margaritas hopefully?). None of this was planned to happen this way, it just did.
Step 4 of moving away unemployed: if you don’t “know” anyone, make yourself known.
They say life after post-grad is all about “who you know.” You’re expected to network throughout college, build your resumé, and make connections to make the job search easier.
That being said, I’ve known my boss for less than 2 weeks and he has already panned out to be a stronger connection than most people I have come into contact with throughout my job search. My mom “knows” people, my previous bosses “know” people, but I’ve found that it’s way more rewarding making your own connections without anyone else’s help.
OPPORTUNITY IS ALWAYS OUT THERE, YOU JUST HAVE TO FIND IT.
I know what employers look for in a PR candidate, so even if I don’t have all the experience or impressive bullet points on my resumé, there are other avenues to take. For example, social media.
You can classify my Instagram as “basic” but I don’t just take photos for the likes. My Insta feed is an addition to my personal brand and it’s certainly something I include on my resumé (hiding social media pages is so 2011). Social media rules the world, especially in PR and marketing.
STEP 5 OF MOVING AWAY UNEMPLOYED: WORK THE SYSTEM, DON’T LET IT WORK YOU.
What else do I use to enhance this said “personal brand?”
Hi, I’m Beth. I moved here from Boston unemployed because I wanted to take a chance in a new city. There are ways to phrase that and sound like an irresponsible and ignorant millennial. However, there’s also a way to make it sound like you’re a motivated go-getter who has enough confidence to take that chance…and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
Like, I have literally been using my unemployment and unsteady income as a marketing technique…funny how that works out, huh?
step 6 of moving away unemployed: throw your excuses out the window.
I’m writing this as a post-grad who is still unemployed, but I wouldn’t have picked up my life if I didn’t think I could make it. The way I see it, sometimes having no plan is actually better than having one. I’ve been able to create my life the way I want it to so far without having to adhere to a 9-5 right away.
Financially, this move has been entirely on my own. My bank account sobbed a little September 1st but the first cut is always the deepest, right?
Mentally, it’s scary as hell moving to a new place where you are basically a nobody. I don’t have a solid group of friends yet and I can count on one hand the amount of people I can call up to go out on a Friday night. It’s weird, but definitely not lonely.
I take comfort in the fact that the best is certainly to come.
The point of this post wasn’t to brag or say it’s easy moving to a new city. I’ve been here for little less than 2 weeks and I already miss my friends and family despite DC being absolutely incredible so far. It’s weird moving here without a solid foundation and no one really to fall back on besides yourself. Not to mention, it’s also definitely a little bit stressful paying rent and other random expenses on your own.
Maybe luck fell on my side these first couple of weeks, but I’d like to give myself a little more credit than that.
I guess I’m writing this to prove that you don’t always have to rely on other people to get where you need to be, it can be done entirely on your own. I could’ve worked the ropes in Boston fairly easily and landed a job out of college if I really wanted to but I knew I didn’t want to stay in Boston.
IT’S NOT HARD TO MAKE IT ONCE YOU GET TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE, THE HARD PART IS ACTUALLY GETTING THERE.
Maybe it wasn’t the “safest” decision to take a leap of faith into the unknown. However, when you move away, you realize that you need to make it work because you don’t really have any other option but to make it work. You see what I’m sayin’?
Not knowing what my future holds is kind of unsettling at times. However, it’s also kind of awesome. For the first time, I feel like my life is completely in my hands and I can mold it how I see fit. I’ll keep you all updated and I promise I won’t wait 3 weeks this time…
As for the last and final step:
step 7 of moving away unemployeD: don’t be afraid to meet up with guys you met on hinge, happn, bumble, or tinder. *insert smirking emoji here*