The decision to move to Valencia happened much like life tends to… very slowly and then all at once. I had been living in Austin for 9 years, gone to college, graduated, and slipped into an unhealthy and unhappy routine of working menial jobs and drinking too much. After my 30th birthday, I entered therapy, hoping to deal with some of the issues I had spent my twenties avoiding. It helped – a lot – but I still wasn’t pointed in the direction I wanted to be going.
I felt then, and still do today, adrift when it came to my career. I saw some friends putting in long hours at their companies and steadily climbing the corporate ladder. Others were striking out on their own, creating businesses in art, real estate, photography, or production. All the while I felt lost at sea. Working a demanding job can be rewarding and challenging, but when you combine low pay, bad management, and working in customer service, you are more likely to just be demoralized and looking for a way out.
Eventually my situation became untenable. I was miserable at work, and it was becoming more and more apparent. At the same time, I was realizing how unhappy I was in Austin. It was time to change. The only problem was that I had no idea, none whatsoever, about what I wanted to do for work, or where I wanted to live.
To begin, all I really had to do was admit to myself how unhappy I was, and that I wanted to change it. From there I began considering various ways of figuring out what I wanted to do, career-wise. I took personality tests, online quizzes, read self-help books, talked to my therapist, friends, family, mediated, pulled tarot cards… Literally anything that might point me in a direction.
Some of it worked. Reading You Are A Badass and Finding Your Own North Star helped me realize that I am not alone in feeling lost and needing help. It also helped me realize that help was there, for me to seek, ask for, and receive. Meditation was a huge help also, to learn how to take a step back and be kind to myself, a skill I am still learning. Do I know what I want to do now? Not completely, to be honest, but I know I am closer to being able to find it than I was before.
I had to step out into the great unknown, trusting that my foot would land on solid ground that I could not yet see.
I had to decide was not to let the perfect get in the way of the good, and to trust the process. I decided to leave Austin, to go and stay with my parents to continue figuring shit out and save some money. It was while I was there, working at a boat yard, that moving to Spain was first brought up to me.
While texting with DanDann, who was still in Austin, she mentioned looking for apartments in Valencia. She had heard good things about the city from a Valenciano she had met while traveling. With my UK citizenship, it’s quite easy to get residency in other EU countries, and suddenly the thought of returning to Europe, learning a new language, and putting myself in an entirely new place seemed like the most appealing idea in the world. Quickly I decided to try and make it happen.
I started to get to know Valencia, exploring the city via google earth. DanDann and I texted back and forth, but talked in hypotheticals. I was to return to Austin for Christmas, and would be back again after a New Year trip to Iceland. We would, I figured, talk more in person, and see if we were really going to make this happen.
DanDann and I didn’t get to talk until after I was back from Iceland, due to a broken car in New Orleans, but my time in Iceland reinforced my desire to get far away from America. The election had reinforced just how different American values are from my own, and the rising incidences of hate crimes and laws legislating women were too much. I vowed to continue with my activism but knew that, for my own mental health, I would have to do it remotely. Iceland, one of the most feminist nations, was a welcome break.
When I returned, I met with DanDann and we discussed the move. With a minimum of prodding from me, we decided that, come April, we were moving to Valencia.