It hit me the first day I entered my new apartment in a new city in a part of this country completely new to me. My new job as a postdoc was in a city where I did not know even a single soul. I had thought about my transition when I decided to take this job offer. How would I fit into a completely new city in the Midwest? How will I make friends at an age when none of the people my age are single, and I don’t really fancy making new friends who happen to be married and with children? How will I get used to a place that did not have a single national park or mountain, and was as flat as bread? But I decided to embrace my new life with all the positive energy I had. I felt very fortunate that I got a job months before I graduated. I knew that I was going to make this work.
However, the transition was hard, way harder than I anticipated. I drove from VA to NE, which was my first solo longest road trip. I did stop in MD and PA to catch up with friends, but beyond PA, I was on my own. From PA, I drove for two days, stopping for the night at IA. I covered a total of 1,420 miles. Honestly, I was excited.
Things went wrong when I reached here. Without furniture, my one bedroom apartment looked even bigger, the bare walls and the empty rooms needing work. I used to live with roommates before, but now I was all on my own. Within the first few hours, I realized that my phone network in this part of the world was terrible, and I would not have internet at home for the next 2 weeks or so. My virtual world had become so much of my real world that I could not get a grip on this feeling of alienation.
Thankfully, the clubhouse has free internet, and for the next few days, I spent all my time there until my back hurt. Every time I got home, the smell of the carpet would nauseate me. I have a strong sense of smell, and a strong gag reflex. The strong smell of carpet was giving me a psychosomatic reaction. Those were the longest five days of my life.
After five days, I went to a conference in San Diego. The Californian sun and sea did a lot to help me recover from my depression, but it was not a never ending vacation. The best part of the trip was taking a boat in the middle of the Pacific ocean and hiking Channel Islands National Park.
I am back from California, for good, and I try to stay positive everyday. I am setting up my home, and having furniture at homes goes to some extent to help with depression. I miss the mountains of Seattle and the beaches of Virginia. I miss my friends. I miss my old life. It’s a vicious cycle, when you are depressed, you don’t make new friends, and when you don’t make new friends, you get depressed. I cannot wait for work to start. I have cried without rhyme or reason, everyday, lying down and staring at the ceilings. No amount of long drives or Netflixing or reading has been able to bring me out of this. Eventually, I realized that perhaps by embracing the depression, I will be able to let go of it. I cannot help myself as long as I am in denial, so I have stopped denying that I feel sad about my new life here. I am going to embrace the sadness, live with it, and deal with it. For a person who is as enthusiastic about photography as I am, I haven’t taken a single picture here. I no longer feel motivated to go out with my camera. I no longer feel motivated to write.
A change in life can sometimes shake the most sturdy of us. I never felt this way when I moved to Seattle, considering that was a cross-continental move half way across the world, in a new country with no idea about the future. I never felt this way when I moved cross country to VA to pursue my PhD, unsure of where I was headed and if I would do well in school. But now armed with a PhD and seven years of knowledge gained by living in the US, a move to the Midwest has shaken me like nothing has done before. It could be age or lack of friends or anything. Who knows?
I am curious to see how long I end up living here, and where my new job takes me next.