From the Blog

Ten Years Years Ago

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Right around this time ten years ago, I graduated college. I was 26. I had been living in Boston for six or seven years. I took a rather circuitous path to finishing school. When other kids my age were focused on getting though college, I took time off to work at the Grand Canyon for a summer. When I got back, I moved to Boston from my small town in rural Massachusetts. Boston was “the big city.” My parents were baffled. I worked various jobs and waited tables. I had various relationships, none of them serious, a few of them were destructive learning experiences. I took classes at night.

I took classes like “Comparative Religious Ethics” and “European Culture in the Latin Middle Ages.” As the years passed, I became a little fatigued with Boston. The winters were getting less and less fun as I got older. I had grown up enough to know I didn’t want to wait tables for the rest of my life. Getting my degree was an “end date.” I didn’t know what I’d do with a degree in Humanities, but I was free of obligation once I was finished with school. I remember a cold day in February, I was sitting in one of the grand old student halls at my university, I looked at the snow falling outside and I just felt tired. And confined. The city felt too dense, too old, too used up. Boston is beautiful because of its age. The city wasn’t the problem. It was just time for me to go someplace new.

After that snowy day in February, I was thinking about sunshine and solitude and hearing a breeze in some in trees. I began planning a cross country move. I thought about either Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara. I had never been to either. I heard both were beautiful and expensive. There was a guy in Santa Cruz that I knew, whom I actually met at the Grand Canyon. We kept in touch through the years. I was rather infatuated with him, but I was aware that he probably didn’t return the sentiment. So I chose to move to Santa Barbara, away from anyone I knew. If I was going to move across the country, to a place I had never been before, I wanted to do it myself. I wanted it to be mine. And Santa Cruz was “sort of” close to Santa Barbara. Maybe.

During my last semester in college, I researched Santa Barbara furiously, looking for apartments, jobs, and anything I could learn about the town. When I mentioned my move to people, the overwhelming response was “Oh, Santa Barbara is beautiful!” I felt like I was on the right track. No one was saying it was a shit hole.

I was going to need a car in California. Before I quit my job and still had income, I got a loan and bought a car. It was the first car I ever purchased. My first stick shift. A light purple Jetta. It felt solid and real. I parked it at my grandparents’ house while I finished up school. I was still learning how to drive a standard, and my Grandpa, a former mechanic and car dealer, took me to a back road and showed me how to use the e-brake to keep from rolling back on a hill. I still use that trick when stopping on steep hills.

Again, my parents were a baffled by my decision to move. They had already escaped the New England winters by moving to Florida. Indirectly, that made it easier for me to leave Massachusetts too. But had a great life in Boston. I had a good job at the university, and I could have gone on to get a post graduate degree for cheap. I had a ton of friends. I had a cute, cheap apartment. On commencement day, my dad watched a stream of people who recognized me in my graduation gown rush to hug and congratulate me. I remember he remarked “You’re leaving this all behind?”

It was my dad that helped me drive across country. I struck a deal with him. I’d pay for all the gas, hotels and meals. He’d pay for breakfasts. A week after my graduation, the little purple Jetta was packed to the roof with everything I owned. We departed early in the still dark morning, from my sister’s apartment in New Hampshire.

That was the hardest part. Leaving my sister. She had another year to go at school. She was in a relationship and had plenty of friends. I knew she would be fine. But I didn’t know if *I* would be fine, being so far from her. That was a tearful, gut wrenching, goodbye. I wondered if I was making a mistake.

My dad and I got in the car and hit the road.


  1. And……………. the road trip was?

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