If I Were To Write a Memoir This Might Be The Introduction
Updated: May 12, 2020
Sometimes in life, growth is tangible. We watch ourselves shift in familiar places over years, hair growing out and eyes changing tones and neural pathways realigning themselves like the way we change our clothes out each season to make room in our closets: slowly. We find new experiences in comfortable contexts and feel new feelings while looking in the same mirror.
And then, one day, we grow up.
Without any further explanation or preparation we are thrown into growing pains and rapid fire change in a new environment, a new context, a new place, with new people, new feelings. Everything is new. To no end. It’s almost like each day is a completely new life, because nothing is solid or guaranteed. And for me, that was my year in Berlin.
I was lucky enough to be raised with a foot in contrasting worlds: born in Topanga Canyon just off of the Pacific Coast Highway, I fall asleep easier in loud cities than I do in quiet country as it was my first auditory sense. Zooming up the 405 makes more sense to me than an empty back road.
However, before I was 2 years old my parents packed up our little West Hollywood apartment into a U-Haul and we waved goodbye to the ocean and drove inland: farther and farther from the open water and spinning city, and closer to something a little softer: the Midwest. Rounder hills and quieter towns and kinder people, it’s easy to never leave this place. The rise and fall of the seasons is just as intuitive as waking up each morning, even if you’ve never seen it before. It makes sense that things decompose and regenerate, it makes sense that they don’t last all year. Like the sun setting each dusk, and our eyes closing each night, so must the world rest before each blooming spring.
And so I grew up. Right alongside the grasses and our farm cats I stretched and played and ran and laughed and cried my way through childhood. From our apple orchard farm in Beaver Dam to our little house in Sparta, to our lush and expansive valley home in Viroqua: Wisconsin raised me. Los Angeles brought me into this world, beach baby extraordinaire, and Wisconsin raised me, a city girl turned mud puppy on the four acres I called home for the rest of my life until high school graduation.
Sometimes, going into it, a year feels really big. Starting high school. Moving out. Turning 10. Turning 13. Turning 21, 25, 30. 50. Wedding day. Graduation day.
These are the years we expect to be big. Expect them to be enormous and endless and life changing. But sometimes, that year of change creeps up on you. Maybe you walk into it thinking the beginning is really not so impactful, thinking it’s the beginning of the rest of your life, not the end of something that felt like forever.
Somehow, as I walked through airport security at Chicago O’hare International Airport on my way to Berlin, Germany, in August of 2018, it didn’t feel so big. It felt normal. It felt right.
Leading up to it, nothing had been easy.
From my visa to my bank account to my apartment to my flight, to the very day I was supposed to leave literally flooding us into almost being stuck in Viroqua forever, all signs pointed to no. All signs, if you believe in signs, pointed to staying in the US, to quitting the plan, to breaking up with the boy I was literally moving across the world for.
But, in my wide eyed young mind, all these challenges were just proof that nothing that matters comes easy. Sometimes, if it’s not flowing, it’s not flowing for a reason. But then again, nothing that's worth it comes up to your door and knocks: anything that you really want you have to jump through hoops and climb mountains for. And maybe that’s true.
Regardless, I couldn't have been swayed. I was 20 years old, I was in love, and I thought I could do anything. This is the story of how I learned I can.