When I was 10 my mom and I moved to Germany. When I was 10, I hated it. I had been forcibly removed from my dad, my friends, my language, everything but my mom (and barbies). We traveled all over Europe- Czech Republic, Poland, France, England, Ireland and various parts of Germany. When I think back on the year we spent living abroad, I feel like a real jack ass. In Paris, I argued with my mom the whole time. In Ireland, it felt like all we did was commute, but I did get to play the sims for the first time. In England I mostly remember feeling sick. In Czech, I don’t remember feeling connected to some of my family’s homelands- I remember trying to understand why everything seemed so expensive (I don’t think they had Euros but this was about 16 years ago so it’s fuzzy). In Poland, I drank hot chocolate. I learned German and explored castles.
When we finally returned to the US, I promptly forgot all my German. Periodically I would forget I had ever even lived there- in the span of my life, it was only a small blip. But it changed me forever, in like a totally cliched and silly way. It gave me a desire to travel.
During and after my parent’s divorce, my mom and I bounced between apartments, cities, schools, everything. When we settled in Maryland, it would still take my entrance into high school to find a rental home to call ours for the next many years. Over those years, ever since Germany, all I thought I wanted was to move back to Atlanta. It called to me, it made me homesick in a way only replicated by my missing a significant other, it felt like a part of me was missing and I couldn’t breath till I had it back. I think what I really wanted was to be transient.
Over the last few years while living in Atlanta, I have dreamed of living somewhere else. Anywhere else. There is a part of me that will always love that skyline- but I love it the most when I’m driving through it either coming or going- never staying. I have found tolerance for Atlanta, as a home base, through traveling all over the country. I have climbed in some of the most incredible places from Yosemite and Bishop, CA, to Joes Valley and Indian Creek, UT, to the New River Gorge in WV and all the bouldering the southeast has to offer. And in turn, all these adventures have made me more confident as a climber and person. I have learned how to climb slab, how to shove myself into cracks, how to hold onto crimps, how to make big moves, how to heel hook correctly, how to talk myself through much of my fear. I have learned other languages and have experienced other cultures. I have moved to Salt Lake City, alone, because twenty years ago, my mom stepped into a whole new life for herself, taking five year old me with her.
My mom took me across an ocean and back and since then I have sent myself all over this country with the goal to see all of it, experience all of it. So yes, maybe my long term relationship with Atlanta is over, the state no longer tugs at my heart strings the way it used to, but I am excited. I am excited for everything the rest of the world has to offer- and I am falling wildly in love with the American west and everything it has to teach me.
So here’s the part where I give some kind of advise or a take away message- travel. Go everywhere, see everything. Learn from the people and the rocks and the food. Go alone, go with your S.O., go with friends, JUST GO. This world is wild and big and full of incredible experiences, find them.