Hi, I'm Karen. Nice to Meet You.
After I graduated college, I knew I wanted to get out of the Midwest. I’ve lived there my entire life (except for a 3-month abroad program while in school) and I wanted to try out something new, even if it would only last a short time. During this time, my now husband and I had just started dating and together we decided to set off to pursue a new life in the Bay, probably terrifying both of our Mother’s, though they never said so.
To say it was stressful is an understatement – we survived mostly due to pure stubbornness and honestly not knowing any better. I worked 2 jobs, freelanced on the side when I could and hustled every day trying to sell my wares on Etsy. We lived on discounted Trader Joe’s frozen meals brought home from my partner after he worked the night shift, and a daily regimen of footlong Subway sandwiches, thanks to giftcards sent to us by my Mom.
I think my lowest point was eating alone in a patch of dying grass, after walking about a mile just to find some, only to have half of my footlong stolen by 2 golden retrievers whose careless owner let them off their leash.
I screamed at the dogs, screamed for their owner to come get them to no avail. I desperately hung onto my sandwich, wrestling what I could back out of the dog’s mouth, not even thinking about the possibility these dogs could bite me or attack. All I was focused on was saving my one meal that was supposed to last me all day.
The dogs bounded off, tails wagging as I sat there trying not cry and picking up the remains of my turkey sandwich, wondering if I was desperate enough to still eat it. I totally was. I salvaged what I could, not even bothering to throw away the bits of wax paper now littering the ground, and aimlessly made my way back to our studio apartment in the Tenderloin.
Now, 10 years later, I’m grateful for the times when we didn’t know how we’d come up with enough money to pay our next month’s rent. I would have never said that at the time, it felt impossible and desperate. It felt like it was something we would never overcome – until we did.
I look at back at those times and think we were actually totally bad ass! We lived on next to nothing in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. And if we could do that, we can do anything.
Going up a new path feels longer and harder than it actually is – because in the moment you don’t know how long it’s going to last. Is this forever? No. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a blink and then it’s over.
We only lived in San Francisco for a year, but it was one of the most transformative years of our lives. We learned to be self-sufficient. We re-evaluated what was important to us and what should take priority, setting in motion plans for the future.
And what I discovered about myself is that having freedom and flexibility to travel is very important to me. It always was, but I never full appreciated the full gravity of that feeling until that first year out of college, entering the ‘real’ world where I was too broke to even feed myself properly, let alone get on an airplane to anywhere.
So now I take adventures whenever and wherever I can find them! From taking an afternoon off to laze about in a patch of grass, to setting off half way across the world. I know I for one, will never again underestimate the magnitude of a good meal, or even something as small as splurging for an instagram-worthy, artfully designed latte. Those are the adventures I live for. The everyday moments that get taken for granted, until one day your world comes crashing down because a dog ate your lunch.