by Noah Cohen, contributing writer.
I’m sitting in the car, staring out the passenger window, watching the other cars go by. Music is playing on the radio, but I’m not paying attention. Thoughts are whirling around my head like bees in a hive, as I try to process what I am feeling, or rather, what I think I should be feeling. Moving to a new city is a big deal, right? On one hand, the uncertainty is daunting and everything I’ve known is now about to change. On the other hand, I’m feeling underwhelmingly calm, as though this is just another car ride, with the difference being that all of my stuff is in the car. The two feelings juxtapose in my head.
Adapting to new environments hasn’t been much of a struggle for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to over twenty countries, I went away from home for college and I lived in Sydney, Australia for six months. I’ve found that I can acclimate well when spending time or living in other places. There’s one commonality, though, that all those places share: each destination had an end date and nothing was permanent. For the first time, I would be leaving to go somewhere for an indefinite amount of time without a return date. There’s a beautiful chaos in feeling like the world is your oyster, but also not being sure whether or not you enjoy shellfish. What’s at stake, really, besides for my happiness – or possible lack thereof?
I graduated from college about a year ago. After graduation, I moved back in with my parents in Westchester, New York. It was a great place to grow up, and I had a very comfortable upbringing, but my town is not a conducive place for twenty-somethings to meet a lot of other people. Two of my best friends were home as well, which was amazing and I really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with them, but I yearned to meet new people as well. Developing a gay network in my hometown didn’t seem too feasible either, and I longed to meet other gays and feel that I’m part of a community. I knew I needed to be in a city for these things to happen, and I had two in mind: New York or Washington D.C. I always lived near New York – the thrill wasn’t there as much for me and I think there’s such thing as too much to do and too many people to try to form bonds and relationships with. There was also one major thing that was swaying my decision towards Washington – my boyfriend lives there.
On my first full day of living in D.C., my boyfriend and I decided to go for a long walk around the city. Any sense of tranquility I was feeling the day before in the car had dissipated and a flow of emotions, worries and anxieties surged though me like a current through a wire. Any bottled up or suppressed emotions came out, and in that instance I was a complete and utter mess. Seeing these unfamiliar streets, unfamiliar faces… I felt lost and that I didn’t belong there. I was questioning absolutely everything and wondered if I would really be happy here or if it was just wishful thinking.
Those aforementioned anxieties and worries were quickly resolved. I would soon meet people – a lot of people. I felt happy and a sense of belonging to my new city. My boyfriend and I put up artwork I had brought up in the apartment, and lined the tops of our dressers with pictures of special people in my life. We worked to turn a house into a home – a place we could share together. Things really clicked and made me realize that I definitely made the right choice. I’ve been here two months now, but it feels like so much longer, in a very good way.
My situation and circumstances for moving to D.C. were certainly unique. I didn’t have a job lined up. It took me a month of searching once I got here before I even got an interview. The plan was that I was going to move in with my boyfriend at his place (another major first for me: living with a significant other). Should it not have been for his understanding and patience, there’s no way I would have taken that chance to move here on my own without first having that all figured out.
My boyfriend was extremely supportive while I searched for work, and because of that I was able to find a full-time job that really appealed to me, as well as a part-time job and some contract work. He made my transition in moving so much easier, and I truly don’t think my experience would have been even remotely as positive without him helping and accompanying me on my journey. And what a journey it’s been so far – so much in my life has changed in the last couple of months, and though frightening at times, change can be a truly wonderful thing. I wasn’t unhappy before, but I didn’t think it was possible for me to be as happy as I am now. I want to say thank you to the people who have been a catalyst for positive change in my life. I’m a D.C. resident, I’m living with my partner, I’m meeting amazing people and I’m so excited to see what new changes continue to evolve in my future.