The last place I lived for more than a year was my duplex on Sabado Tarde in Isla Vista, during my sophomore and junior years of college, with four other girls. My friend Bryan asked me to write about how I feel now that the transitional period I have lived in since college is winding to a close, and he has written about his own experience of staring a more settled future in the face.
If all goes according to plan, I’ll be finding a more permanent apartment in the DC area come January and starting a credential program next summer. Oh, and there will be a wedding, that other way of settling down, but I think that actually happened a few years ago, when Colin and I started talking about the future in terms of years instead of just months.
I feel as though I’ve gotten a sort of pass for irresponsibly bouncing around with Colin, a new place every nine months or so, never having a job I couldn’t walk away from without a second thought. When I graduated college, the country was neck-deep in the recession, and I had no reason not to follow this charming boy halfway around the world. For so many people my age, the recession pushed all the milestones of adulthood back, so that I have only two friends from high school who have bought houses, and one of them only very recently, even though we’re solidly into our mid-20s and our grandparents had already had our parents when they were this age. The media has wrapped me up in the cozy notion that I am not alone—that all the millenials are struggling, returning to school in the face of a still-harsh job market, delaying starting their own family—and that I’m not so far behind having spent the last four years with only as many possessions as I could carry.
The experience was unlike any I would have guessed for myself back in high school. It’s been amazing, and I try never to forget how fortunate and privileged I am to have had the opportunity to travel the world with Colin. If I didn’t know that my family would be there to bail me out of any situation that got too dire, that I am without other obligations that might have kept me from getting on that first flight to Taiwan, that my family chose to trust me and Colin at all so I could go with their admittedly nervous support, I would have missed out on four years of discovering unfamiliar foods, foreign tongues, far-flung beaches, foggy mountaintops, engulfing cities, endless train rides, places of worship, night markets, vegetable markets, floating markets, and wonderful friends, plus pictures to document it all.
But now I’m tired. My once shiny and new backpack is scuffed and stained and currently stuffed full of some of the professional clothes I might need in DC. I want to be reunited with my cast iron skillet and maybe cultivate a bookshelf and an herb garden. I’m ready to follow my career goals. Luckily, Colin is ready for all of this, too. I know he’s still a little worried that settling down will mean the end of all our adventures, but I’m convinced it won’t. There are new chapters to be written, admittedly a little closer to home, but no less significant.