Twin Cities. I rolled the idea around my mind and didn't so much as flinch at the association with winter. I knew but I didn't yet know.
"When a person is at home in his life, he always has a clear instinct about the shape of outer situations; even in the midst of confusion he can discern traces of the path forward." To Bless The Space Between Us- John O'Donohue p. 82
When I decided to move to San Francisco last spring, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I only knew the jar lid clicked and it was the next right step. A couple of weeks after I accepted my friend's housesitting offer, a job offer also materialized and just like that I was no longer moving there for a summer adventure.
I couldn't believe it. I still can't.
I moved to San Francisco sight unseen and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I told a friend the other week I feel like I've come into my own this past year. San Francisco with all its mystery, imperfection, and beauty has been what I needed for the past 15 months.
I moved without any expectations. It was my second big move and I knew this would be the bigger transition. I was open to however it would play out.
I was right: it was the next right step. Once I arrived, I realized it was a stepping stone to the next right step. Whatever it would be.
Everyone told me to prepare for the fog.
When I drove across the Bay Bridge for the first time last June, the blue sky teased me with its beauty and the sun lured me all the way to my new neighborhood. My eyes flitted back and forth between the road and the view, all the while taking in my surroundings. My immediate thought was, "this isn't home." I shook it off, thinking it was just a reaction to how new and overwhelming everything was. I rationalized that Nashville had immediately felt like home because I'd visited a bunch of times before I moved there.
I needed to give it time.
In the months that followed, I found amazing friends and I've found so much to love about San Francisco, from the ocean sunsets to easily accessible pho. I could see why people wanted to move here and stay forever. Sure, I was regularly aggravated by the limitations of public transportation, the lack of parking, and how expensive it was to live here but I adjusted. While San Francisco continued to feel like a stepping stone instead of a permanent place to land, there wasn't an expiration date for living here. I thought I might stay one year, three years, ten years.
And yet if you want to live in this city, there are concessions to make. As I cast a vision for the rest of my life, I knew it wouldn't be sustainable to stay long-term. Eventually I'd have to make a decision.
I've learned a lot about how my intuition works this past year. There's the jar lid click when everything aligns and I'm ready to act. Before that, there's the tuning fork.
An idea pops into my head and my whole body stands at attention. It recognizes the call.
This is something.
Ponder it. Learn more.
Whatever you do, don't ignore it.
This is the way forward. This is how you will align your life.
It was an unusually sunny day in late May. I sat on the patio reading All The Single Ladies and looked at the ocean every few pages. The book was blowing me away but it was hard to compete with the view. Plus, it gave me a chance to process what I was reading.
I read the chapter about what cities have meant for single women over time and thought about where I have a concentration of friends.
A second later, the Twin Cities popped into my head. I didn't dismiss it out of hand, even though I had sworn a few years prior I'd never live north of Illinois because of how much worse winter would be. It was hard living so far from family and friends, something I hadn't felt while I still lived a less than 8 hour drive away in Nashville.
I rolled it around in my mind and tried it on for size. It felt...right.
I thought about my 6 year reprieve from winter extremes. I thought about just how many people I know in the Twin Cities.
I paid attention.
"There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the desires that still call us. In this sense our desires are the messengers of our unlived life, calling us to attention and action while we still have time here to explore fields where the treasure dwells!" -John O'Donohue p. 26
Throughout the spring, I read a number of novels featuring librarians as main characters. It made me wistful. Librarian had long been one of my dream jobs. But you need a Master's degree to be a librarian and since I already have an MSW and had sworn I'd never go back to school, I thought it would stay a dream job.
One Saturday in June I started to wonder just where exactly one would go for their MLIS. And how much it would cost. And how long it would take.
Surely it wouldn't hurt to learn this information. It didn't mean I was going to do anything crazy like go back to school and incur more debt when I was so close to paying off my student loans.
I searched. I read. I geeked out. I pictured myself working at a library and couldn't stop smiling. I looked at the map of schools.
St. Paul arrested my attention. My heart began pounding.
Well, surely it wouldn't hurt to request information...
By the end of June, the jar lid clicked: I wanted to be a librarian and I was going after it. There was no denying how perfect this career path is for me: books plus systems plus organizing. Be still my heart! I mean: why didn't we think of this sooner?!
By mid-July, I'd settled on what school I wanted to go to.
In August I flew to the Twin Cities for what I privately called a vision trip.While I moved to San Francisco without first visiting it, I couldn't do that again. This wasn't my first time in Minneapolis-St. Paul but the last time I'd visited had been more than a decade prior.
I stayed with friends. I got to see a few sights. I ate a lot of good food.
I absorbed how wonderful it was to be back in the Midwest.
It felt like home.
My last day in San Francisco is October 4. As you can imagine, I have a wild mix of emotions about leaving, including no small amount of denial. The past 15 months here have been incredible. Not all perfect but it's been a remarkable season of growth, renewal, and ocean sunsets. I'm excited about what's ahead but I am so sad to be leaving dear friends and have I mentioned I'll miss the ocean sunsets?
There is much that is unknown about returning to the Midwest. I'll be looking for full-time work and I'll need to apply for school but the plan is to freelance and start the next phase of education in June. I feel strongly I need to get out there and see what happens. As moving to San Francisco was the next right step that has led me to this next right step, getting to Minneapolis will show me what the next right step will be and I can't wait.
While part of me can't believe I'm moving again, especially back to a place with legit winter (hold me), I'm looking forward to being back in the Midwest.
The Year Of Leigh continues on and I plan to enjoy the ride.
"Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you." -For A New Beginning, John O'Donohue