This post was originally published on That First Year.
"I'm moving to Canada."
That's something so many of us have heard, or even said ourselves, over the past week once America's long-awaited election results stared us in the face. Canada's immigration site even crashed from too many disgruntled, scared, devastated Americans looking for a way out. Canada will be better, we thought. In Canada we can find our peace.
We were searching for a place we could be accepted and understood. A place away from people we thought we knew and people who had disappointed us. A place away from the reach of a president we didn't trust. And if the election had swung a different way, the other half of America would have been doing the same thing. Because really, we were all just searching for somewhere else—somewhere else sounded like a promising offer of something better than this.
For me, somewhere else has always sounded like a promise of something better.
In high school, nearing graduation, thinking, "College will be better than this. I just need to move away to college."
In college thinking, "I just need to get away from this. Maybe I need to study abroad to really find myself."
Back home with my parents for the first few months of post-grad life, thinking, "Once I move out, things will be better. I just need to move out for my life to get on track."
After a trip to New York, thinking, "This is where I really should be. If I could move to New York maybe I could figure out what I want."
Somewhere else. Somewhere more exciting. Somewhere away from the daily tasks and the daily tragedies life throws at us every time we wake up to face a new day.
But every time I've found myself in what was once my somewhere else, I end up realizing that maybe it isn’t going to be the solution to my problems after all. Somewhere else always finds its way back to the top of my list of dream destinations, again and again and again.
I'll be honest, I was not made for travel.
I missed my stop on a one-way train from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles even though it only made three stops. Carrying a suitcase over my shoulder for more than a few blocks makes me feel like I'm carrying a bag of rocks as punishment for my sins. Being Southern California-raised means I don't adapt well to different temperatures, and you can forget about me going outside to explore if the humidity is above 20%.
But I never remember those things when I look back to the different times I've decided I needed to go. I look through my photo albums from past trips and remember the mountain top moments, exploring the grottos of Capri, eating gelato three times a day, drinking a bottle of Pinot with new friends in a Paris hostel. The second my life starts to feel like it’s gotten stuck on loop—wake up, work, exercise, dinner, bed, wake up, work—I go back to thinking about getting out, buying a plane ticket, indulging in a one-way adventure with mountain top moments I can store away for safekeeping. I want to start over, be someone new. I block out all the practicality of how my plan will work, what my new life might actually be like, how I will start over the process of building a community around me. I just want to go, get out, find that somewhere else calling my name and plant a stake in it to keep it from flying away again.
Elusive, ever-changing, I’d follow the idea of somewhere else if it led me to my grave.
The day after the election, most of us realized we weren’t about to sell our homes, pack up our lives, and head for the sanctuary of the Canadian border. People posted statuses, wrote Tweets, took pictures of sunsets, marched in protests—the general consensus was, this is home. I’m going to stay here and fight for my home. Somewhere else isn’t going to fix the problem, the problem is right here waiting for me to fix it.
The problem is here.
I’ve spent so long dreaming of what somewhere else looks like, I sometimes forget to think about what it is I’m trying to chase in the first place. What does it have that I don’t?
The problem is here.
So close to home, waiting for me to fix it. To decide that somewhere else is a fantasy I don’t need to dwell in and reality is waiting for me to pick it up and learn from. Somewhere else can’t promise to give you something you already have the permission and the ability to give yourself: A chance to find the something better worth fighting for.
This is home, I think after a long, restless night of wanderlust-filled dreams before my 6 am alarm brings me into another day on loop. I’m going to stay here and fight for my home.