Leaving Home & Not Looking Back
By Kirsten F.
“I found God in the stars on those long nights, and I found adventure in Walmart parking lots.”
2016 has become the year of change for me, it has become one of the most significant years in my life and it just started. I’ve always been one of those people who never really knew what direction she wanted to go in. “Free spirit” is the phrase most used to describe me and my way of living. The beginning of this year started with my 24th birthday, me packing up my car, and moving across the country to Washington state. Yes, I know that sounds absolutely insane but sometimes life throws you in directions that you never even thought about.
January 30, 2016 became a date that began what I call “The Kirsten spiritual journey”. I packed up my little PT Cruiser and hit the open road with one of my friends. I had never driven further than and hour away and now I was making a trek across most of America. I was terrified, but content with the fact that I was leaving, because I knew it was time for me to get out of my small town. So I said goodbye to my family and friends, and drove 14 hours to Texas where I took my first pit stop on this week long excursion. The thing I remember most about Texas was thinking that I was losing my mind because that state was massive. Honestly everything really is bigger in Texas, and they have no trees. Leaving Texas the following day was when I think my nerves kicked in, I was going to be in my car for three whole days traveling to San Francisco, California.
The second part of my trip was where I was most tested, God really threw life at me just to see if I could handle it. Which I’ll admit at times I didn’t think I could, but I did. I over came hitting tumbleweeds, and dirt storms, I over came a blizzard and driving up rocky mountains in New Mexico. I overcame a panic attack mid driving through a blizzard, because let’s be real… I’m from GA we don’t have real snow. I overcame the fear in the back of my mind trying to tell me that I had made a mistake. That leaving was the worst idea I’ve ever had and that I should turn back now. It was then that I realized my own strength, I realized that the biggest demon in my life was fear and I refused to have a relationship with it any longer. I found happiness and peace during that time as well. Driving on empty roads with the sun shining and my car full of snacks and good tunes. I found myself feeling connected to the desert sky and the dirt covered ground. I found God in the stars on those long nights, and I found adventure in Walmart parking lots. I had never seen windmills, ranches, the rocky’s or even an In ‘N’ Out in real life before. I got excited seeing a prairie dog run around behind a QuickTrip in Arizona, and screamed when I saw the sign pointing to L.A. blasting Mayday Parade’s “Jamie All Over” as I headed to my new life.
Nothing prepared me for California, the state that I had longed to see and be apart of. Driving through the valley and eating my first In ‘N’ Out burger (animal style of course). Seeing L.A. at night, and crying because I finally saw something on my bucket list. We slept in a hospital ER parking lot and almost died because of the food we ate. We left San Bernardino and hit the road to San Francisco at 2AM. I drove past forest fires, and could barely breathe due to high altitude of those Californian roads. We made pit stops at gas stations and took pictures of the sun rising over the vineyards. I played my music loud and my windows rolled down tossing out sunflower seeds and crumbs that fell on my lap. I didn’t know then that I was also heading on my way to be tested again. I’m terrified of bridges over water, I’ve had an irrational fear of falling to my death since I was a kid. However, that’s exactly what I drove over in SF, The Bay Bridge looked intimidating, but something in me knew that I had to conquer that fear. It was when I was half way over it, that I realized that the ONLY way to get over your fears is to do them. I wandered the streets of San Francisco with my friends and ate pizza that tasted like it came straight from heaven. I shopped and laughed, I realized that I had in fact just driven from coast to coast and I had never felt more alive.
It really didn’t hit me that I was actually gone until I made it to Washington. We left San Francisco and headed north, we drove through mountains and valleys, we drove over lakes and stopped to get gas at a station in Oregon with a man who wore all cameo and laughed when I didn’t know that in Oregon you don’t pump your own gas. We ate our weight in snacks, and those 11 hours from California to Washington seemed like a breeze compared to the three days we spent traveling from Texas to California. Moving to Washington has done more for me than Georgia ever did in my 24 years on this planet. I found myself in this small community, I found God in the mountain outside of my new bedroom window, and I found out that I am more than what I thought I once was. I left the old me in Georgia, the scared, confused, lonely version of myself. She had to stay behind because who I am now is so much better. I lost my head in San Francisco, I found myself in the desert and I became who I am supposed to be in Washington.
“I played my music loud and my windows rolled down tossing out sunflower seeds and crumbs that fell on my lap.”
Nothing can compare to knowing who you are, and becoming who you are meant to be. My advice to you is this, you don’t have to leave home if you don’t want to. Nor do you have to travel far to find who you are. All you have to do is know yourself and know that what you’re destined for is nothing short of greatness.