I’ve decided to make a cross country move from Los Angeles to a small, country town in upstate New York so I can get to know my dad. I’m known by friends to dramatize and exaggerate pretty much everything, but to say this is the biggest decision of my life is not hyperbole. I have enjoyed the mild weather of Southern California for 25 years and I assume that I loved city life even in utero. With a community of friends and a fulfilling career, I never before considered living anywhere other than Los Angeles, let alone making a cross country move to a small, rural town. Then, in October, the blank space under “father” on my birth certificate was filled in. As it turns out, I did not just gain a name for my birth certificate, but I won the dad lottery. No one could dream up a dad who is more caring, kind or thoughtful as the one I got.
In the beginning, I envisioned our lives filled with endless Skype chats and countless cross country visits. That seemed like a sufficient method to get to know my father. But when your dad leaves you notes like this, how do you say no?
I certainly tried. It seemed too dramatic, too fast, too scary a move to consider. I resisted and avoided thinking about it until it was all I could think about. Somehow this cross country move came into focus as the only possible option. While it still feels risky and terrifying, I know not leaning into this experience with my dad would go down as the one great regret in my life.
Now, I find myself in this strange space in time between the decision and the move. It’s sort of an angsty limbo. Life in Los Angeles is coming to an end, but it hasn’t quite begun in New York either. It’s hard to make plans when I’m not sure where I’ll be living or what my life will be like. There are so many yet to be answered questions– Where will I get my lattes? What if I don’t make any friends? How will I handle the snow? When will I feel settled?
In movies, this limbo is conveyed with a well paced montage with soaring music. Sure, there might be some pratfalls, but it glosses over the uncomfortableness of change to the point that it seems amusing or glamorous.
It’s like in Dirty Dancing when Baby learns the mambo routine in a scant 3 minute and 30 second montage, which conceals the enormity of what she is under taking. Baby is not just learning a dance, but also developing the strength to stand up for what she believes in. She is defying her father (not to mention the law) in helping Penny. That’s got to require more frustration, anxiety and self-doubt than is displayed in this sequence.
I would love to skip the angst and live out a light-hearted, glossy montage of preparations for this cross country move with breezy moments of boxes being packed, celebratory drinks with friends, my last day at work and loading a moving truck. But then I wouldn’t earn the change or the growth that this experience will allow. So, I’ll stick with real life and hopefully survive this cross country move!