For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a nomad. I’ve been the girl who never stays in one place long enough to make friends, who finds a new best friend every two years, who knows not to get too comfortable. I’ve never felt like I had a home, that one stable, constant place I could always come back to when the world started spinning too fast.
I don’t have a house that built me.
My life until now has been a series of hit and runs, staying in one place for a period of time, but not nearly long enough to leave my mark, then taking off, on the hunt for something better. And for years, I had a problem with it. I hated the hassle of packing up and moving. I hated having to be the new girl. I’ve had plenty of people leave my life to the point that I became the whiny, mixed version of Peyton Sawyer, and in the end, I’m the one who’s leaving.
For the past thirteen years, I’ve lived my life for everyone else. I moved when I was told to because I had no other choice. I picked up the slack where my little sister was concerned—and trust me, there has been a lot of it, for over half my life. I lost friends, I gained friends, I missed opportunities to put down roots in a new place.
Only once did I move because it was a choice I wanted to make.
Only once did I give myself the chance to put down roots somewhere.
Only once did I do something for me.
I moved to Chicago almost three years ago, my entire life packed up into two bags, and left the only place I really knew behind. And I never regretted it, not once.
Over the course of the past three years, I opened my heart and poured out the character some people know as Aislinn Hunter. Aislinn was the biggest part of my life, and I loved her. And I hated her. When she progressed, I progressed. When she had a setback, I had a setback. We went through everything together. We grew up together. And she taught me to how to live again, for no one else but myself, because I’m no one’s angel.
Shortly after I introduced Aislinn to the world, literally two days later, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to move back to Los Angeles.
It took me months to get here.
A little over a year ago, I convinced myself that I wanted to stay in Chicago because it was a decision that I made for myself, and when I initially planned to move back to Los Angeles, I was doing it because my mother was sick. Because she was sick and I felt like she needed me, and my sister needed me, and I needed to be close by in case anything bad happened.
But I resented her so much. I resented her for things that happened in our past that she has always refused to talk about. I resented her for not being present enough physically or emotionally while I was growing up. I resented her for making me feel like my sister was my child and everything that I do is for her. I resented her because she always chose men over me, and over my sister, and I always, always, always chose her.
Even when she didn’t deserve to be chosen, I chose her. Even when she didn’t deserve another chance, I gave her one. Even when I should have walked away, I stayed.
Part of my decision to stay in Chicago was born from that resentment.
I didn’t want to keep choosing her.
I didn’t want to keep uprooting myself for her, like I did my whole life.
I didn’t want to be obligated to her.
I had to prove to her, and to myself, that she wasn’t the center of my world.
But for most of my life, she was.
Everything I did was because she wanted me to do it, or because she couldn’t or wouldn’t do it, or because I thought if I did it, I’d make her proud, and if I made her proud of me, then just maybe I’d earn her love.
But that’s the thing about love, whether it’s a mother’s or someone else’s.
I shouldn't have to earn my mother’s love.
It’s supposed to be unconditional.
And it never has been, not even for a second.
I could jump through hoops that were ablaze into the ocean that’s far too deep and vast for me to swim and then fight off sharks and emerge victorious and that still wouldn’t be enough for her.
So I let go. Too much has been broken to ever repair what I thought we had.
And I’m happier without her than I ever have been with her.
And I’m so happy to say that my decision to move back to Los Angeles has absolutely nothing to do with her, and everything to do with me.
I make no apologies for how candid I am in this post, or how candid I was about my relationship with my mother in the author’s note at the end of Take It All, or the fact that Corinne Hunter was very loosely based on Debbie Simon.
I make no apologies for doing what I think is the best thing for me.
There are a million tiny factors that led me to my decision, and there are three really big ones.
The first, being my need to be near my little sister. This year brought a stream of losses for the both of us, including, but not limited to losing our mother, and by being there for each other, we held the last remaining pieces of our family together. It has always been the both of us, fighting alongside each other, braving every storm together, and it’s time I bridge the physical distance that’s been between us for almost three years.
The second is my desire to be near Efrain, the man I love. Five years and nearly three thousand miles have separated us, which is too long and too far. There aren’t words to describe how it’s felt to be apart from the other, better half of me. People are in long distance relationships all the time, for long stretches of time until they can no longer take it. I knew from the moment we got together that I wouldn’t be able to be apart from him. And to quote my favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” I know, from the bottom of my heart, that I want to spend the rest of my life with him, and I don’t want to wait any longer for that life to start.
The third is this tattoo. I chose to get the words “Follow your bliss”, styled like a dictionary pronunciation, because of the entirety of the quote, which I’ll write below.
If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.
There comes a time where a person has to either accept the life they’re currently living, or attempt to chase a better one. I got to a point, long before Efrain and I got together, where I realized I was no longer happy living in Chicago, and I knew I wanted to move back to Los Angeles, the place that I called home. And although we’ve gone over this conversation countless times, although I’d convinced him, and myself, otherwise, and although I made a convincing argument aloud that I wanted to stay in Chicago, I knew deep down that I wanted to be back in Los Angeles.
For the past eight months, I’ve gone to visit Efrain in Los Angeles multiple times, and every visit, every visit, he’s taken me to visit Jade at her college. The drive is long, and the road seems to stretch forever, and our drive is often completely silent, save for the sound of our voices singing along to our favorite songs, or my giggle when he starts tapping out the beat to one that he knows like the back of his hand onto the back of mine with his fingertips, or his contented sigh right before he tells me he loves me. But more often than not, it’s silent, and the road stretches out in front of me as I’m left alone with my thoughts.
And on those drives, my thoughts always led me one place: I want this, as often as possible.
And when I see Jade after months of not seeing her, and she hugs me like I’m one of her favorite people in the world, I think: I want this, as often as possible.
And when my princess Ari sees me for the first time, and her tail goes crazy, and she gets on her hind legs to beg for my attention, I think: I want this, as often as possible.
I want authentic Mexican food on every corner. I want spontaneous carne asada gatherings with my best friend and her family. I want random trips to the beach just because I know it’s there, and the beach is one of my favorite places to be. I want concerts and superhero movies with my brother. I want mornings with my smallish princess, cuddling her because I’ve spent the past three years only seeing her every few months. I want impromptu visits to see my sister, that don’t require months of planning and saving money just to see her for a few hours. And I want nights with my boyfriend, my best friend, the man I’m going to spend my life with.
For only the second time in my life, I’m making a choice that I’m one hundred percent happy with. For only the second time in my life, I’m making a choice for me, not out of necessity or obligation, not because I think it’ll make someone else happy, but because I absolutely want to do it.
My heart is at peace.
Los Angeles is my bliss.
And I plan to follow it.
If the day comes that those words are no longer true—which I highly doubt will ever happen—I’ll follow my bliss again, creating a better, lighter, happier life for myself.
I will greatly miss the people and places I’ve grown to love in Chicago. This city is far bigger and far more beautiful than it was when I first became acquainted with it. And I plan to be back to visit, whenever possible.
But for now, I’m going home.