On Moving to Colorado
| Will Bamberg
The weeks surrounding my move from Austin to Longmont were a whirlwind of frantic getting-life-in-order-ing, last hangouts and goodbyes, packing and moving and unpacking and arranging and rearranging. It’s now my 44th day of living in Colorado, and life has finally calmed down. I’m settled in my new home and back to a baseline headspace. I’ve had time to process what it’s been like to move across the country, and have put together some thoughts about that experience.
I loved growing up in Austin, and I was happy with my decision to stay there for college and attend UT. Being close to my family was incredibly convenient, and the greater campus area was a novel enough environment that I never got tired of Austin during college. However during the first months of 2021, when I had graduated but was still living in west campus, I noticed myself becoming fatigued of my surroundings. I was going on 5 years of living in the same square mile, walking down the same familiar streets by the same familiar apartment complexes, and I was beginning to chafe at it. Although I was working full time and entering a new phase of life, my environment was constant, which made it hard for me to lean into that change mentally. I felt kind of in limbo.
I accepted my job offer in November and started working remotely in January, but the full weight of my impending move didn’t sink in until it was just a few weeks away. And then the switch flipped, and it really hit me that the move was no longer Far Away, but was in fact Just Around the Corner. This was similar to the Oh Shit moment that happens when you procrastinate on studying for a test right up until the panicked realization that you have to use every scrap of remaining time to cram (this typically occurs the day before the test). Except this moment had about 10 more years worth of built up anticipation, and the “test” was of my ability to transport my life 1000 miles away. Here are some of the delightful thoughts that it brought me:
- Oh God I Have To See My Friends Every Day Because Who Knows When I’ll See Them Again
- Oh God How Many People Have I Already Seen For The Last Time
- Oh God I’m About To Be In A Long Distance Relationship
- Oh God I’ve Spent Most of the Time I’ll Ever Spend With My Family
- Oh God I Have To Pack
- Oh God I’ve Spent All This Time And It’s Gone And I’ll Never Get It Back and Things Will Never Be The Same Oh Fuck
One aspect of moving I was really looking forward to was getting rid of stuff. After cresting my unbridled adolescent craving for free shit freshman year of college (I filled up a box of freebie junk in an afternoon that took me years to unload), I’ve been trending toward minimalism ever since. I’m not a hardcore minimalist, but I definitely value only carting around (literally and metaphorically) things that I actually use or that spark joy.
I saw moving as a Great Filter: an opportunity to jettison a lot of stuff en masse, especially the tricky items (e.g. that shirt I want to like but never ever wear). I’m happy to say that I managed to get rid of a ton! During this process I also became fascinated with imagining what all of my possessions compactly packed into as small a space as possible would look like. That volume turned out to be roughly the size of a Toyota Camry and an ~80% full 4’x8’ UHAUL cargo trailer! (Yes, a sedan can pull a trailer! You just have to get a hitch installed, which turned out to be a pleasantly seamless process through UHAUL.)
Mountains are Big. Obviously. Still, looking around Longmont on street view gave me no sense at all of how they would look in person. Verdict: they’re big. And gorgeous—when the lighting is right and the ridgelines overlap in shades of brown and blue and grey, with snow-capped peaks visible in the distance through the haze… I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. And don’t even get me started on the sunsets.
A Sense of Wonder, Relief, and Pride
Moving to a new city in a new state is something I’ve been anticipating since high school. After choosing to stay in Austin for college, moving out of state became my plan for after graduation. That was nice to think about, but actually making it happen (finding a job, finding a place to live and a roommate, physically getting myself and my stuff there) was a huge undertaking. After getting into my new apartment, waking up with new walls around me, stepping outside and seeing new sights… the feeling of “holy shit, I did it” has been powerful and poignant.
Solitude and Building From the Ground Up
I’ve really flown the nest and am out in the wide, wide world. My days of being in close proximity to thousands of people my age and in the same place in life as I am are over. I’ve parted ways from my family, girlfriend, and all of my friends. The time I spend with my loved ones is now much more precious and far between.
It’s certainly a little sad and scary to be so far from everything and everyone I know, but I’m excited about the future. I’m happy to have made my first new friend in my roommate, and I’ve already found a pickup soccer group and a potential men's team that will hopefully bring more friendships.
And really, I’m excited about where I am in life, and what being in Colorado means for me. Although I loved all of the hangouts, parties, shenanigans, and general burning of the late night oil of college (excepting a big ‘ol covid shaped gap), I found it difficult to balance social time with me time. As I got more motivated about self-growth, it became harder and more painful to prioritize between spending time with loved ones and investing time into myself. I’m grateful for the blank slate that being in Colorado brings, and excited to rebuild my routine, lifestyle, and priorities. I’m leaning into my life, and I can’t wait to see where I can take myself and what I can create.
Time to Step Up to Fantasy
It’s time for me to face the stories I’ve been telling myself about this time in my life. There are so many wishful, hopeful fantasies I’ve constructed over the last handful of years about how I’d spend my time once it wasn’t consumed by school. For example: time investments (music production, dance), behaviors I’d change or start (reducing social media usage, meditating every day), and personal projects (building a website, creating an app). I’ve written myself a bit of a tall order—it’s all too easy to pass things like this off to your future self. Well I’m him, here today. How am I going to measure up?
Definitely not as well as my idealized fantasy! I’m trying to accept that up front, and internalize the lesson that as hard as I push myself, I’ll never overcome the number of hours in the day or my own limited energy and stamina. I’m going to do my best though, and I feel good about that. I’ve learned that it’s important to be clear about what is a priority, because the alternative is that nothing is prioritized and anything can fall off the table.
So, I’m excited to build a new vision for my life and future. In my engineering school motivational slump, I felt like I lost the ability to really push myself to grind out academics for the sake of the grades (which had fueled me through high school and the beginning of college). Now, I have a fresh chance to decide what’s important to me and what I want to work hard at.
I’m going to try to define a clear, specific, and attainable vision for my life and how I spend my time that I can apply myself to. I have some work to do because I still have too many areas in front of me to focus on all at once. I’m going to experiment with focusing on singular priorities for periods of time (instead of my natural inclination: prioritizing and attempting everything, all of the time). Stay tuned for more posts on that subject!
This month, I’m working hard to knock out a lot of dangling items on my to-do list (such as this blog post, some partially completed art projects, and lots of dry financials like budgeting and getting my own car insurance). Next, I’m planning to focus on building my own website and hosting my blog there. Hopefully that’s where most of you will be reading this!
Time to get to it.