Less than three months from now, my wife and I will voluntarily become jobless for the first time in our adult lives. Shortly after that, we will become homeless for the first time in our lives.
I’ve worked steadily since I was 10 or 11, graduating from lawn mowing to paper tossing to pool card collecting to food making to food clearing to food serving to phone answering to email-responding-and meeting-attending to…well, more emails and meetings.
I’m extremely fortunate to even be able to think about giving up my job, my home, and my stability. I’m able to actually do this because I live in a country that provides the highest standards of living in the world.
I grew up in a loving family, with parents who gave me the tools needed to get to the point I’m at today: the point of having enough to decide I don’t want any of it. It’s a pretty fucking privileged place to be, and I fully acknowledge that. But arriving here was the result of a series of decisions, many of which were not easy to make.
The United States is the pinnacle of living, a place where “bigger” and “more” are considered standard. A place where four courses are better than three, where three bathrooms are better than two, where two trucks are better than one, and where there’s a good chance one of anything is considered coming up short.
When living in this reality, there is no such thing as “enough”.
I’m on a mission to put it all into perspective; to test my desire to have less, to test my conviction of wanting less. I started off with my toes in the water four years ago, and since that time I’ve slowly eased my body into the water. Now it’s time to take the full-on plunge.
To accomplish this, I will leave behind everything I have ever known, and follow my deep-seated desire to roll the dice on my future. I will leave behind a city I love. I will leave behind friends and family I love. I will leave behind a life I love.
I will leave behind control, stability, and constants. These characteristics have defined my personality, lifestyle, and outlook for the vast majority of my life. They will be replaced, largely, with unknowns.
It takes a lot to have everything I want and need right at my fingertips, and give it up. It’s one thing to be in a position where I could make these changes on some unknown date, it’s another thing entirely to follow through on them on a very specific date.
I’ve built and fostered relationships, a career, and a community in a city I now call home. A city that I reluctantly gave a chance, and slowly came to love.
It takes a lot to know I won’t get the intense feeling of satisfaction biking home from work on a beautiful evening, past national monuments and world-renowned landmarks, with a grin stretching across my face at the pure joy of being a part of a city I love as I travel through it.
It takes a lot to give up a six-figure salary and, all things considered, a balanced life. I complain about my job quite a bit, but I will miss it. I will miss the people. I will, strangely, miss the things I disdain the most. The repetition, the redundancy, the monotony. The anxiety of a stressful project and the thrill of completing it.
These things provide a level of comfort and fulfillment that will be more difficult to move on from than I can fathom.
It takes a lot to give up a west-facing apartment seven floors up with views across the Potomac River, with a Trader Joe’s footsteps away from the entrance to our building. When I want Sutter Formula cookies, they are obtainable for the unquestionably reasonable trade of five minutes of my time.
It takes a lot to give up evening walks through vibrant neighborhoods, quiet streets, and hidden alleys. To give up live music at some of the country’s best venues. To give up picnics in the park and $20 car bombs, and to give up Sunday evenings in the summer laying in the park at drum circle.
It takes a lot to know that the US Capitol, the library of congress, and the Supreme Court will no longer be fixtures of my lunchtime walks.
It takes a lot to know that I won’t have to confront my love/hate relationship with the Metro multiple times per month. It takes a lot to know that I won’t have anymore games of chicken, walking on my side of the sidewalk while phone-gazing worker bees refuse to get out of the way.
It takes a lot to know that sunset runs on a remote trail will no longer be part of my exercise routine. It takes a lot to see all the development happening in the city, and to know I won’t be around to see it completed.
It takes a lot to know that I will be able to have this all again, but that right now is the time to leave it behind.
I’ve been in DC for three and a half years, and there’s still a massive list of unchecked boxes here. It takes a lot to know that I still have tons of things to cross off my DC bucket list, but there won’t be time to get to them. Not on this go-round.
I left Baltimore in 2013, and it will always have a special place in my heart. I never knew DC would claim just as big of a piece of my heart.
Since I’ve already left behind one place I love, I can better cope with the reality of leaving behind another. Especially when the reason I’m leaving is to follow a life-long dream of mine, a dream that’s always been there, waiting to be acknowledged. A dream that I’ve worked really hard to unravel from deep within myself.
A dream that my wife and I share. A dream that we provide endless support and encouragement to each other for.
That dream is to see the world, to set myself free, and to see how it all turns out in the end. I have nights where I wake up in cold sweats, with anxiety screaming from all corners of my head: What the hell are you doing?
It has to work out, and it will work out. I know that with every fiber of my being. It might work out after failure and hard times. There will be bumps on the road, the only question is how many and how high. But it will work out, because that’s the only option. It’s life.