Posted by: Leslie White | January 10, 2012

I’m here

Jump Shot, Salt Flats of Utah

I can’t believe I’ve been living in Sunnyvale for almost four months now.

My first day in California alone was rough. The apartments I saw all turned out to be scary. One of them had a floor that was so slanted I was fairly certain one of the bedrooms was about to fall off the side of the building. So I was effectively without a place to live, staying at a terrible hotel in Berkeley. Early that morning, I had to drop Brendan off at the airport and say goodbye. I can’t even begin to explain how important it was to have him with me.  He drove through all the mountains, video blogged most of the trip, and we laughed so hard on the last day of driving when road delirium had set in. After leaving him at the airport, I was very much alone.

I had one last apartment to see later on that afternoon, but nothing to do in the meantime. I was more than a little jittery, and have never been good with idleness. So I went to the only place that made sense. I drove to Emeryville and parked outside the gates at Pixar.

There is a bench outside the front gates, placed there I like to imagine, for people like me. I sat there a while, and in the most wonderful way it reminded me why I had made this move. It was right there in front of me, and it grounded me and I didn’t feel anxious anymore. I went to see an apartment in Sunnyvale later that afternoon, and took it. It was only a bedroom in a single family home, but it was a beautiful/safe neighborhood and offered a month-to-moth lease, which is rare in Silicon Valley.

I unpacked. I got a temporary job at a Kohls store around the corner, not knowing how long it would take me to find a job in my industry. Fortunately, I was hired quickly by Stanford University as a biomedical artist in the School of Medicine. It is without a doubt the best job I’ve ever had. My coworkers are wonderful, and I feel really lucky to be a part of this team. I’m also about to start volunteer work at the Stanford Hospitals and Clinics. I’m really excited. I hope I enjoy it as much as I enjoyed volunteering at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Both of my sisters had their babies – within four days of each other. I now have 4 nephews and 1 niece, and I’m living off the photos my sisters post on Facebook. I couldn’t afford a plane ticket home for Thanksgiving, but I could afford a ticket to L.A. where my best friend Kim lives. We cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner together and afterwards watched Monte Python. I also got to observe her at her Aikido class, where she impressed me by flipping men twice her size over her shoulder.

I went home to Chicago for Christmas holidays. I saw my family, my friends, my dog. I went Christmas caroling at local nursing homes with some choir friends from high school. My three best friends, who all live in different parts of the country, were all home in northern Illinois too. For the first time ever, I was able to see all the three of them at the same time. I was over the moon happy.

I miss my family and friends, but I’m so happy living out here. I’m hunting for a regular apartment now, one that my friends can come stay the night at. I’m taking yoga classes on the weekend and thinking of taking up kickboxing. So that is my long overdue update. Having moved cross country, I could offer some good tips for planning a successful move. But I think the most valuable thing I’ve had is my family, Kim, Brendan, and Mandy.

Group Hug


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