Life does not go according to plan. When I applied to universities as a highschool student I planned on going to Georgia State University, living with my best friend, and all without having to get good grades in high school. Most of that did not happen in the linear manner I had envisioned. I got terrible grades in high school, got rejected from every university I applied to, went to community college and lived with my mom for two years. I was going to be a business major. And then a biology major. And then an interdisciplinary science major with a focus on environmental science. I applied to nine internships across the country Eventually, I did end up going to Georgia State University and living with my best friend, but I am graduating in December as a Creative Writing major with a Public Policy minor. Of the internships I applied to, only one of them asked me to come work with them- in Utah. It worked out.
When I originally decided I wanted to move to Utah, it wasn’t because of an internship. It was because of a boy and a climbing area. I had already told him I had loved him countless times but three years ago we went to Indian Creek in Bears Ears National Monument. It was an immersive crack climbing experience in a place without cell phone service or the outside world. Just a big weird group of climbers, alone in the desert. I fell in love with the place. The way everything was orange and red, the way he looked at the rocks, the way he looked climbing the rocks, the fact that my phone didn’t work, the strangers we met, the way I felt alone in the universe with him enjoying our favorite thing. I was in love. I went back without him, once, and my heart still raced as my friend and I drove through the canyon. The place is special to me. I asked him, a few months before he ended our relationship, if he would move to Utah with me after we graduate- he said yes.
Now, I am driving to Utah alone. My ex and I haven’t had a decent or reasonable conversation in months. I have not graduated. I am moving for an internship with the non profit, HEAL Utah. I am terrified. I have no partner to switch off driving shifts with when I’m tired, to babble at as I’m driving, no one to share rent or a room with, no one to make me feel a little bit safer as I camp across the country on my way out to Salt Lake City. I hate it. I’m scared and angry and anxious. I am also unbelievably excited.
I am not a thrill seeker. I hate the idea of free soloing anything, lead climbing causes me to stop breathing, and roller coasters, gardening shears, and roller skates make me cry. Things that don’t scare me but I’ll still make myself do: get a tattoo I really want, invite people I barely know on climbing trips, move across the country. I’ve talked to friends about how empowering it is to wander around a new city by yourself. Now I’m going to wander across the country, alone, and live in Salt Lake City where I know two people. I’m gonna cry a lot. I’m going to call every person in my contact list. I’m going to take the succulent he bought me for Christmas and we’re going to grow together.
This is not how I planned to move to Utah, but I am not going to let that stop me. I’m jumping into this- feet first, succulent in hand, and ready to start the next chapter in my wonderful, painful, surprising, irritating life.