The mountains called so I went. I didn’t know why they were calling me, but I went anyway. I quit a decent paying, salaried position that was within my major (and therefore considered an acceptable path), packed up all of my belongings into my car, said goodbye to my best friends, my family, and my dogs, and moved to Alaska to get paid minimum wage and live in an unheated tent two hours away from a city. It sounds crazy, right? I felt crazy some days, but most days I felt crazy excited and at peace with my decision.
Now, as I sit in a hammock I hung between two trees growing over the Kenai River and look out at the sun setting behind the mountain ridge, I smile to myself because I know I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’ve found answers and happiness I didn’t know existed, passions and dreams I didn’t know were buried within me. I’ve made peace with my broken heart and my wandering soul. I’ve extended my family and found another place to call home.
The mountains called so I went, and thank God I did.
This morning I realized I would be leaving this place I now call home and all the people I love in less than two weeks. And so as I sit here watching the sun dip lower at a snail’s pace, I feel bittersweet. I plan to come back next year, but it won’t be the same. There will be new people and new inside jokes, new adventures and new sources of happiness, and above all, I’ll be a different person.
Something I’ve realized since being here is when we say goodbye to a place and to people, we also say goodbye to the version of ourselves we were in that place with those people in that specific time. Every day seems to stay the same, you seem to stay the same, but when you look back everything is different, and coincidentally you are different too. I think about who I was as a child, who I was in middle school, in high school, in college, last year, and they are all different people. Yet I can’t pinpoint when I changed. When I was a young girl, I wanted to go to Harvard and be the President of the United States. And then, years later, after falling in love, I wanted to be super woman; CEO, super-wife, super-mom. And now all I really want is to be happy, to spend every day in the open air and on top of mountains and surrounded by people I love.
And I guess that is why my heart is hurting; I’ll be leaving this version of myself I love, this happy girl that can’t stop smiling and laughing, who let’s life happen without over thinking it. Of course I know I will grow from her and always carry a piece of her with me as I do with each of my “past selves”. But since I was a version of myself I disliked for so long before this, I want to cling to her. I want to be her forever.
But change is the only constant in life. I will spend the rest of my life changing and growing into different versions of myself. Priorities will shift, opportunities will present themselves, people will step into and out of my life, I will learn new things about myself and about this world, and all of this will contribute to new selves and life changes. I look forward to it all, as long as I keep doing what makes me happy. Because ultimately that is what I love about this version of myself so much: her happiness, the way she is always glowing, always looking for adventure, the way she enjoys the little things, the way she doesn’t accept “the norm” as her norm, and the way she loves herself and her life. These parts I hope to keep for the rest of my life.
The mountains called so I went, and thank God I did because I found the missing pieces of my heart.