In June, I made the decision to make the big move from the hustle and bustle lifestyle of Los Angeles to the more peaceful countryside and small town life of Sequim, Washington. It was a hard decision to leave behind my job as a behavioral aide at a special needs school, my advocacy work in California as well as some of my friends and amazing mentor behind. My parents bought a house in Washington back in 2016 so they can retire. However, the people they bought the house from needed to rent it back from my parents for a year and a half. They moved in March, but I had to stay behind in L.A. with my grandma because of my job. I wanted to wait until the school year finishes to move with my parents.
As you probably can imagine, this came as a shock to me and I was filled with anxiety and ambivalence about this whole transition. Change doesn't come easy for me (since a lot of autistic people have a hard time dealing with change). This is because there are multiple layers to this move. The first layer was because we were moving to a small rural and remote town of Washington state. One thing about moving to a big city is the convenience factor in having a lot of options (in terms of stores as well as transportation). Moving to the countryside where everything is out of reach is probably the toughest part of this transition. I am still in a state of culture shock with all these changes.
Another concern that I have with living in a small town is the limited resources for those with disabilities and autism. More specifically, I was afraid that I wouldn't find a qualified young person who can be a companion/support person to me because the town in which I live in is composed mainly of retired people. At first, it didn't look promising since my mom reached out to various people and they couldn't come up with anything that was of help to me. It wasn't until we reached out to this one nonprofit that serves adults with developmental disabilities. Luckily, the executive director found someone who was a good match and has the right experience and qualifications ( she takes clients out into the community as part of her job). I was surprised how fast I was able to find someone because usually I have to interview and try different people out until I get the right fit.
Another difficult aspect of this transition is that we are becoming an intergenerational household (just like other asian families) with my grandma moving in with us. Although she is a loving lady with good intentions, she can be overbearing and has a lot of nervous energy which can be difficult to deal with sometimes. Her English is also not the greatest and speaks Japanese to me which creates a language barrier. I am still trying to figure out how to balance this dynamic with my grandma without it damaging our relationship. I think that if we have spend some time apart, it can make this living arrangement a lot more easier for me. Luckily we lived together in L.A. for three months before the two of us joined my parents in Sequim.
I am still trying to deal with my yo-yo of emotions of trying to embrace this move but also missing California. Surprisingly, I am dealing with this transition exceptionally well. I thought I was going to cry every single day. It helps that the people are very helpful and understanding. The road ahead is not going to be easy and I still miss California very much. At the same time, I wanted a fresh start as I had a lot of self destructive scripts that I had adopted from living in L.A. and wanted a break from the fast-paced and competitive nature of Los Angeles. Then comes the most daunting part that I is looking for a job in a small town that is mostly composed of people who are retired . Because of this, I'm not sure if I will live in Sequim forever or long term. However, I get to enjoy living in a big house (since I lived in Condominiums all my life) and want to try out small town living. As my mom said, "life is a journey."