i'm moving: take 13

November 6, 2010

There is a small independent gas station on the corner of Rosecrans and Valley View, where I stop every Monday and Friday to get gas on number five. Usually I have just enough in my budget to get $10 or $15 my miata (which, by the way, I'm selling -- any takers!?).

There is a small, jovial Iranian man who helps me every time.

"Yes ma'am, it is so good to see you. And you are on number five, of course, and do you want fifteen dollars?"

"Yes, how are you?"

"Oh, of course I am good. And I hope that you are good."

"Yes, I am."

"And of course you are going to work."

Every Monday and Friday, he tells me how much he hates charging me 35 cents to use debit. "Oh, how it kills me," he moans. "I hate to charge you this fee, over and over again."

I complain when it rains on Fridays, and he says, "Ma'am, it is going to rain.  I am so sorry that it upsets you though." Always en emphasis on you, as if there were a particular crime in stratus cloud cover because it was me, in particular, who disliked the rain on Friday nights.

I promise myself, every year, that I'll settle down somewhere. I tell myself that I'll get a good group of friends, and that I'll find three favorite restaurants to choose from. I'll find a coffee shop where the barista knows my order. I'll work on being a regular somewhere where other regulars smile when I walk in. I'll learn the city well enough that I can drive most anywhere without getting lost.

It was my Iranian friend that made me realize I've made East LA my home, this semester. And it was that realization that helped me see that I've done every single thing in the above list in about 5 cities over the past three years. In Binghamton, NY, the barista at the Starbucks across from my community college knew I'd ask for a tall breve latte with an extra shot, and would tap his foot and make me laugh if I ever tried to figure out something different. My drink changed to a double mocha in Washington, DC but I had a favorite green coffee shop across from the UPI office where I always went to get it. In Long Beach, I kept my drink, but my shop changed to Aroma Di Roma, where Jasmine Hunter and I used to go on Tuesday nights. In Auburn, I loved dinner at the Ale House in Old Town. In Long Beach, I loved Taco Surf, and the staff still recognizes me when I walk in. I danced the last songs on the jukebox away with two other regulars a couple weeks ago.

In La Mirada, I've been on too tight of a budget to go out to coffee that often, but I found Three Avocados, and my friends have been buying their coffee from me to help provide clean water for people in Uganda. My friends and I love Taco Tuesdays on Valley View and Orangethorpe.

This month, my huge group of fabulous girlfriends and I are celebrating my one year of singleness anniversary (yes, I am that obsessed with celebrations).

All that to say, I think that I have learned to, as Confucius says, "go with all my heart" into every new place that I venture into. I find friends, I find favorite haunts. And, just last week, I took a short cut home and didn't get lost.

I thought through all this hullabaloo, last week. The coming and going - the constant packing and unpacking. I asked myself if it was too much.

I asked myself if I was lonely, or lacking, if I had, somehow, missed out.

I asked myself if I would do anything different.

It was then that I realized I wouldn't change anything about the past three years. And, out of that realization, I gave myself the okay to go again.

It took about three days to make a decision.

                               Turns out, I'm moving back to Washington, D.C. in January.

                   You didn't really think I was going to stay in one place for an entire year, did you?

Upstate, NY 2007

Port au Prince, Haiti 2007

Santa Clarita, CA 2007

East LA 2008

Port au Prince, Haiti 2008 

Jinja, Uganda 2008 

New York City (Times Square), 2008/2009

Washington, D.C. 2009

Alexandria, VA, 2009

Upstate, NY 2009

Berkeley, CA 2009 

Long Beach, CA 2010

Auburn, CA 2010 

Wobulenzi, Uganda 2010 

East LA 2010

Anyone have favorite restaurants/coffee shops/good friends in the district? 


Nicoracle Photography said...

Ooh Shanley! You should look up my friend Tasha when you move to DC. We were roommates at Biola and now she's out there studying international education. I kind of think you would love each other! Here is her blog... http://tashakolardc.blogspot.com/

Carsen said...

I had this conversation with a friend today who recently graduated and is trying to figure out what to do now. I said, "when I can't decide, i just go. i can't resist the adventure. maybe not the best way to make decisions, but that's just me."
I, however, have failed to dig my roots down deep this time. I think I assumed I'd be leaving soon. And what do you know...I've been here for a record 16 months. Thank you for teaching me a lesson: to stay where you go, for however long it may be. Happy adventures!