It’s easy to look back when everything has “worked out” and see the signs. Obviously. But the trick is, every time that happens, to add a little bit more trust into your “piggy bank of self” and try to remember that the next time you get a gut feeling, or are moved to do something.
A short story about knowing when to trust that voice in your head:
I get lots of hair-brained ideas. We all do, right? That’s part of the fun of life – to continue to dream things up and let ourselves be inspired, and then it’s up to us to get to know ourselves well enough to know what ideas we should carry out and which ones we can laugh about and say, “that was a fun thought.” For myself, my hair-brained ideas usually seem ridiculous after a good night’s sleep or two. It’s the ones that linger that I’ve learned I should pay attention to.
I love to travel. But I really love traveling and picturing myself living in a place. Where would I live? Where would I hang out? I want to wake up and walk down the street to the corner coffee shop and eat at the restaurant no one’s at because I secretly know it’s the best on the block. And one of my absolute favorite simple pleasures is going to a grocery store in a foreign country. I’m constantly looking at Airbnbs in different places and dreaming of having an apartment in a foreign city for a month by myself.
A couple months ago I was dreaming of Rome. Which is funny because when I talk about Italy, I say that Rome was great, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to go back. It must be done if you’re an Italy first-timer because of all the “attractions”, but once is good enough. But for some reason, I wanted to look at Airbnbs in Rome and see what it would look like to get an apartment there and live like a Roman for a month. I spent a good couple hours that first night scouring the internet and saving tons of places I’d love to stay. And then reality started to set in. “Ok, this sounds great, but when would you really have time to get away for a month? And hello? What about cost? And I know it sounds like fun to do these things by yourself, but who are you going to talk to?” And on and on and on…
So I shut my computer and went to bed. I woke up still thinking about it. But I knew that I needed to give it more time. Fast forward a couple weeks, and I was still thinking about it. Which honestly made me worry a little, because that doesn’t usually happen and if the thought was going to linger, that might mean I would have to do something about it. But instead of talking myself out of it, I started to talk myself into it.
The biggest thing stopping me, or making me hesitate, was cost. I didn’t know this initially, but you actually get a significant discount (differing depending on the owner) if you rent an Airbnb for a month at a time. That’s great, but that didn’t solve the problem of me still also having rent to pay in Seattle. Then I thought, the lease on our house is up mid-September. My roommates and I hadn’t discussed our situation yet, but if we all wanted to move out in September, I could stay with my mom (who lives a few blocks from me) for the last couple weeks of the month, go to Rome in October, and then come back and find an apartment in Seattle in November.
This was a little relieving, but I had no idea what my roommates were thinking yet about continuing to live in our house, and it also felt like a cop-out to let this trip depend on people other than myself. So (after much deliberation) I decided that I would just make it work.
Even if I was still living in my house in Seattle, I would find a way to also pay for Rome. I was confident in my choice, but had lots of back and forth moments, wondering if I was doing the right thing – it felt like a waste to be paying two rents essentially. But I just kept telling myself that there’s a reason this idea stuck with me, and it’s important to me to see this through and make this happen.
So I booked everything. A friend of a friend happens to live in Rome and her and her husband have an absolutely beautiful Airbnb that was available for the majority of October. My hesitation was that it wasn’t in the neighborhood I was originally looking to stay in, but then I figured I could have the best of both worlds and stay in that neighborhood in a different Airbnb for the first part of the month and get to experience two different areas of the city. So I booked both Airbnbs, and then I booked my plane ticket. Holy s*** this was really happening.
This was all very exciting, but something was keeping it from really setting in, and holding me back from being as excited as I should have been. The thought of cost would creep up, and I’d reason it back down, but it was always there sort of hovering close behind me. But I remained confident in my decision.
The other day, I was sitting at a coffee shop getting some work done, when an email from our property manager popped up. It was very short and to the point. “The owners have informed me that they do not plan on renewing your lease for another year, so your lease will be up on 8/31.” With a couple sentences to follow about the move-out process, and that was it. I started laughing out loud to myself in the coffee shop. (Mind you, that is almost exactly one month from when we got the email; the same week my sister is moving to a different state, which I will very much be helping her with, while also having to be in that state 3 separate times during the month of September).
What else can you do but laugh? I called my sister immediately. “What are you going to do?” And a lightbulb came on. “I’m going to pack up my stuff and move it to a storage unit before we move you to Montana. I’m going to stay with mom for the month of September, and then I’m going to Rome for the month of October.” So I won’t have to pay rent in Seattle for two months, and then I can come back and find a place to live starting in November.
Faith in the universe is a beautiful thing. I had an idea, I trusted my gut, and it happened almost exactly how I originally thought it might. NONE of which I could’ve seen coming, or planned for. But that’s what faith is, isn’t it?