Leaving San Francisco

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Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, I moved from San Francisco to Dublin, bracing myself for rainier days, earlier sunsets, and fewer burritos. I didn’t prepare for the loneliness, though. Actually, I’m not sure loneliness is the right word. I’m looking for one that encompasses a discouraging medley of loneliness, uncertainty, and regret. 

This feeling, whatever it’s called, exists in tandem with excitement. I’m truly excited to be here. I’ve never met friendlier people, most of whom seem comically unfazed by hangovers. Each day, my logical side nudges me to be patient – settling in takes time, after all. Soon, I tell myself, I’ll find people to share pints of Guinness with in the evenings and pints of Ben and Jerry’s with in the morning, while I work through my melodramatic hangovers. I’m excited for that. 

But the lonely, uncertain, and regretful side of me – it’s there too. It’s there in waves, tying my stomach into knots right as my apartment door swings closed after work. I didn’t have to come here. I chose to. I wanted an adventure. It didn’t occur to me that the adventure wasn’t the moving part – how hard is it to get on a plane? The adventure would emerge as I began to build a life from scratch. And that’s an adventure I didn’t prepare for. 

When I thought of moving abroad, I thought of the stories – the stories I’d live as I spent my evenings wining and dining and my weekends traveling and exploring. It’s pretty naive that I forgot that I’d have to find friends to make those stories with. And even more naive that I forgot about the inevitable silence that lingers between even the best stories. 

At home, silence was wonderful. I lived for the quiet Saturday when I could wake up slowly, mosey around my neighbourhood, and zone out in a coffee shop with my headphones in. I could disappear from the world until I wanted to resurface, hours or even a day later. 

Here, in my new home, silence is nauseating. I find myself thinking about the sounds of my old life, buzzing on as usual, eight hours and some 5,000 miles away. It unsettles me. Because with that realisation – that life in San Francisco is chugging on without me – comes premature nostalgia. Even though sunshine and sourdough and my old roommate haven’t suddenly evaporated, my San Francisco life has.

I’m not stupid. I realise it’s time to fill the silence, to stay out later and play music louder when I get home. To shamelessly befriend strangers and approach life with the unabashed enthusiasm of a college freshman. To do more, think less. But I’ve been holding out, because I know that the moment I throw myself into this new life, I’ll more definitively sever ties with my old one.

I say I’m lonely, uncertain, and regretful, but I think the word I’m looking for is dizzy. I’m dizzy because I’m in the midst of the disorienting chaos of true adventure. I know that, if I put down roots, I can steady myself. And then, once the world stops spinning, I’ll be ready to find my new rhythm out of the silence. TC mark

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