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How Jonah and I Decided to Move to Portland…During a Global Pandemic

Here's to the next adventure...

Nearly five years ago, Jonah and I packed all of our earthly possessions into a bright-yellow Penske truck routed from Manhattan to Los Angeles. Even though we were both born in Southern California, and were welcomed by a small network of friends and family, the move still felt like a major leap into the unknown. We hedged our bets and I decided to follow my gut—I just had a feeling that cupcakes and cashmere would become a lasting home for me, and that we would love L.A. And thankfully, I was right on both counts! Cupcakes and cashmere is, and will continue to be, the company I'm able to help grow, and grow with, even as we plan to leave California for the Pacific Northwest. In just one week, Jonah and I will be packing another moving truck bound for Portland, Oregon!

As many of you know, Portland was always part of our longterm plan, but something we saw as happening "sometime in the future"—until COVID hit. Like so many people quarantined in large cities, we felt increasingly claustrophobic inside of our West Hollywood apartment, cut off from most of the reasons we've loved living here. As both of our roles pivoted to become at-home positions, we realized we both had the privilege and flexibility to perform our jobs from almost anywhere (Jonah is an app developer). We allowed ourselves to daydream about moving to a place that would give us easier access to uncrowded hiking trails, until one of us—I can't remember who—finally broke the ice and said, "Wait, what if we actually did move...?" 

After reading an earlier draft of this post, Jess emailed me to suggest that I include more about our decision process, "Did you and Jonah have endless hours of conversations debating if now was the time? Were there arguments? Tears?" It wasn't until reading her feedback that I realized there was none of that—no tears or lengthy debates at all—but, given our track record with these kinds of big moves, that doesn't come as much of a surprise. 

My mother-in-law frequently teases Jonah and me for the speed at which we make major life decisions. I can't remember even having a conversation about moving to New York, or moving in together. We decided to get married approximately 24 hours before our ceremony, went for an after-work walk one day and came home with our cat Meesh after passing by an ASPCA, and poured our savings into buying land in a city we only knew about because Jonah won a sweepstakes that sent us there. I can point to countless times where something's clicked into place and suddenly we're on a new life path.

I still have the email exchange from when we decided to move to L.A. It wasn't even on our radar, until I emailed Jonah a link to the hiring announcement and the following conversation took place in the span of three minutes, according to the timestamp. Keep in mind that this is verbatim: 

Jonah: Time to move to LA????
Me: but actually
Jonah: ya im not kidding! If you want it!
Me: yay! so excited!

I applied later that day, and found myself in L.A two weeks after being offered the position.

Since deciding to move to Portland, there have been plenty of conversations about how to move as carefully and consciously of the coronavirus as possible (I'm planning on writing in a subsequent post about all of the steps we're taking). I've also spoken at length with Emily and the rest of our team about the complications and adaptations that may arise when I live in a different city. But the initial decision to move nearly 1,000 miles away—where we know exactly two people, and during a global pandemic—came on as swiftly as any I've ever made. 

The reasons I first fell in love with the city five years ago are many of the same reasons we've decided to move: the proximity to nature with Forest Park and nearby trails, the weather (we both love rain, though I've been warned the PNW may challenge that), the bookstore and brewery culture, year-round skiing, and restaurants to name a few! In my idealized version of Portland, I'm jogging with my dog (that I adopted after accidentally passing by a shelter...) on a muddy trail before work, rock climbing on weeknights and skiing on weekends, and sharing it all with you. 

But I'm also aware that, for as fortunately as every snap major decision has turned out for me and as lovely as that new adventure sounds, it may also be (at best) really hard and (at worst) an enormous mistake. And I won't know which until I'm there.

Despite falling swiftly for Los Angeles, and the new home, job, and friends that came with it, I had a breakdown about a month after moving. I remember sinking to the kitchen floor, crying as hard as I ever have over the friends I missed and how naive it was to move away from what felt like the center of the universe. Fortunately, my homesickness went away almost as quickly as it came on, and I can genuinely say that my primary emotion in moving to Portland is excitement, but when I think about what I'm most nervous about, my mind goes back to the feeling I had that night: of loving my new home so much, while simultaneously desperately missing my last home. And I love L.A. even more than I ever loved New York.

Stick with me on this brief tangent, but I would be remiss to write a post about moving without reflecting on some of the moments that shaped my past nearly five years in L.A. I was born in West Hollywood and spent the first decade of my life living in Laurel Canyon, so even my short drive to work included a treasure trove of childhood memories: my former elementary school and the hardware store where I once ushered my mom out in a hurry because I'd set every single kitchen alarm to go off in five minutes. I now have hour-long conversations with the same shoe repair shop owner my mom used to talk to at length, while I'd sit in the corner of his shop with a book. In a lot of ways, returning to Los Angeles felt like a gift; of being able to revisit the places I loved as a child, through adult eyes. And it exceeded every expectation I had for it.

In the time since arriving, I took a dream job at a company I've long admired (see this nearly seven-year-old 'gram for evidence), learned to rock climb (but not surf), got married, found nature (and cats), took risks, saw Paul, found lifelong friends, voted, moved into two homes and three offices, ran a marathon, bought land, celebrated milestones, and grew in every way imaginable. As excited as I am for Jonah and my next chapter and muddy morning hikes, leaving will be hard.

My friends here are some of the best I've ever made, and making friends during a pandemic in a city where I barely know a soul will be a challenge to say the least (I'll be putting my own tips to the test). I'm also concerned that winter will be bleak, when outdoor dining isn't possible in the rain, that I'm moving to a city considered non grata by our current administration during the election, and that we'll be farther from both of our families. Although I don't feel stressed and genuinely can't wait to get there, it's probably no coincidence that the muscle under my left eye began twitching the day we booked our movers, and hasn't stopped since...

I'll be sharing so much more with you in the coming weeks and months, including the story of how we found our apartment on the drive back from the Grand Canyon, what we plan to do with our land, as well as the stories I don't know yet!

It's hard to believe that the last time I moved out of L.A. was seventeen years ago when I moved with my parents to Reno, Nevada. It was the first major transition of my life, but a year in, I distinctly remember thinking, "I can't imagine never having met these people or had these experiences." I've had the exact same thought after every move since, from Boston to Copenhagen to New York to L.A., and now Portland. I'm no stranger to change and adventure, and for all of my fears, I also can't wait to see what happens. Until then, I have some moving to do!

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