Goodbye, goodbye.

Do you want to live a safe life, or an authentic one?

I’ll never forget the night that Alyssa, Nate, and myself spoke about the idea of moving to Milwaukee over a few glasses of wine. It was in the summer of 2010, one of the best years of my life – I felt invincible, but I was stuck. I was at a point in life where everything that I did was repetitive, endless, and wild. I wanted to step out for a little bit, and experience something different. I was 22, and craved change. This was a new chapter of my life, and as this chapter is coming to an end I’ve looked back at the last two years to reflect, reassess, and appreciate everything that I’ve been through. It’s been tough, it’s been lonely, but at the end of the day I have learned so much about myself, what I am capable of, and what I need to do to better myself. I don’t regret a single moment of it. I’m a better, stronger person now, and I’m not sure I’d be at the place where I am at in life, if I didn’t make a spontaneous change to grow up.

Why Milwaukee?” was something that I was frequently asked. “Why not?” was my answer. The Midwest was the perfect choice for me to experience new life, new adventures, and new opportunities. Milwaukee is a breath of fresh air, and even though I have been here for two years, it still feels like a complete culture shock for me. It’s so different, but that’s what I wanted more than anything. I so desperately needed to get out of my rut, breathe in new life, and surround myself in the unknown. The outcome of this adventure has been mostly positive, a little negative, and a whole lotta growing.

I’m so grateful to have met Alyssa’s grandparents and allowing us to stay with them while we settled down. I’ll never forget when Char first opened the door and graced us with her big, welcoming smile. Oh, and little Baxter too, I’m not sure how I feel about that dog, but it is definitely a creature from out of this world. Dave was a little intimidating at first – hard to read, blunt, a total badass. Eventually I learned that underneath all that, he was a really good guy. I’ll never forget that little home on Villard, deep in the heart of the ghetto but with Char’s cooking, Baxter, Dave, and the two girls that I moved out here with, I felt safe, and most importantly, it felt like a home.

New town, new friends, new places to dance? Alyssa was so keen on taking me to La Cage the first night we came into town. I was more than excited to go dancing, and get a feel for the scene out here in Milwaukee. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that I was extremely disappointed. And that disappointment feeling with the scene, and nightlife in general stuck with me the whole two years. I always thought living in a small big city would be great where everyone knew each other, but I was very wrong – I abhor it. I guess I just got bored of running into the same people, at the same place, every weekend. I did have really great times out here though. Apparently Milwaukee is the #1 drunk city in the country, and I believe it. Some people think that I’m crazy because I believe I was fortunate to have gotten an OWI – I took it as an opportunity to better myself, and learn from it. Since then, I haven’t driven drunk, and I don’t intend to.

My first priority when I moved here was to find a job. Before moving here I had a really great job working at Nordstrom. I was there for four years, and every day was a cake walk. I had grown so accustomed to my routine that the idea of starting somewhere new made me really nervous. I’m socially awkward, and I know that, before I moved here my self confidence was very minimal. I took a job at Teavana and it was a love/hate relationship on most days. I blame the bi-polar ex manager that used to run that place. It was my second job I’ve ever had, but also the first where I walked out. I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment and freedom after doing that, the rush alone was worth it. I wasn’t about to let her measure me any smaller then what I let her. Know your worth, and don’t let anyone measure you, ever. April had left to go back home to California, so it was just Alyssa, Kyle, and myself. It was time for us to leave Alyssa’s grandparents house, and find somewhere for us. I was nervous because I had just quit a job, and I had no income. I remember the pressure to look for something new right away, and I did. Who knew Craigslist would ever benefit me in the job market. My life at Carenza was about to begin.

The interview felt like it was two hours. It didn’t feel like your average interview, but that was great. It involved discussion on Britney Spears, snowboarding, photography, and just our interests. I spoke with three people that day, and being the socially awkward person that I am, my anxiety was over the roof, but I think I kept my cool. I left, and I knew I had the job. I got a call about two or three days later with a job offer that I happily accepted. I was ecstatic.

My time at Carenza, was really great. I made some really amazing friends here, and for the first time in awhile, I completely felt like myself. I was comfortable, and one thing that I take from this whole experience is to never get comfortable at your job, no matter how good you think you’re doing, because the next day it could all be over. I’m not upset at what happened because sometimes they say that blessings come in disguise. Maybe this is the push that I needed to start the next chapter of my life. I knew I was planning on leaving, I just didn’t think my time would be cut off so soon. Everything happens for a reason, right? I love the people that I grew close to there, and I am so grateful to have had them be apart of my life, it finally felt like I had a group of really great friends. I was always myself, I always used my best judgement and I don’t regret anything that I did there. I do find it amusing that people I used to think I respected there showed their true colors after I left. At the end of the day, I know I will be okay, and the people that have so much to say after I left will continue living a sad life, and will never live to the extent that I have, and will continue to do. I wanted to really address these individuals, but I thought really hard about it and I’d only be lowering myself down to their level. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I firmly believe that in order to experience the most out of life you have to be daring, and open to the possibility of anything and everything. Be spontaneous, making mistakes are okay, as long as you grow from them. Never, ever let yourself become stuck. I can’t stress enough that if you’re able to just get up and move somewhere on your own terms, to just do it. If anyone ever doubts you, don’t listen – everyone didn’t think I’d last this long out here. You can learn so much about yourself, I know I did. I experienced how powerful falling for someone only to be crushed was like. I explored sexual outlets I never thought I’d do. I realize that maybe people aren’t so bad after all. I discovered self confidence I never thought I had. I’ve let these walls come down, just a tiny bit. I’m taking these lessons, and will continue to apply them in the future.

Life will always work out for me. I’m so excited to start this new chapter back home in California, where I belong. I’m definitely a different person since when I left. Thank you everyone for being a part of my life out here. This isn’t the end, I’m confident that our paths will cross again. I’m still holding on to that one person, ha ha ha (Jessica, you know who.) And as always, I will never, ever be able to dumb myself down to please others. I will always remain myself, and speak my opinion, no matter how much it is hated. If you’re going to hate, or dislike something – make sure you do it for the right reasons. This is only the beginning; a never-ending journey. You’re welcome to see my flaws, aspirations, accomplishments, goals, and changes… I have something to give, if you are willing to take it.

Goodbye Wisconsin, it’s been really fun. Until next time?

Jay-

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