22 years

Today is my California-versary again. I arrived here for the first time on September 9, 2001.

22 years.

I’ve written about how I ended up in the US before (you can read about it here) and I still have days where I have to pinch myself to believe that I made that leap and that I am living my life abroad.

I don’t really have new wisdom to share today, just felt like marking the passage of time.

On this day, I always remember and think back to that day that literally changed my life; to the moment when the Supershuttle Van, that had picked me up at SFO, dropped me off late at night in front of a dark, empty apartment in Davis where I had to wait for the girl who would meet me with the key to the apartment that I was subletting with another (exchange) student for the next few months. I was terrified.

If someone had offered me a seat on a plane back to Germany, I probably would have taken it. I am glad that this wasn’t an option. This is the reason why I am still here.

Moving away and putting an ocean between myself and the people I love has probably been the hardest thing I have done. I didn’t know it at the time but it becomes more apparent with each passing year. But I don’t regret it. There was so much growth that needed to happen. And California is my home. My other home. That doesn’t mean that I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had stayed in Germany.

Do you sometimes contemplate the ‘what-ifs’?

  1. Wow, I went back and read your post from 10 years in. You arrived in the US two days before September 11th? What a difficult time to get here! I cannot even imagine. Our country has changed SO MUCH based on that day. I wonder how it might have been if you had arrived 5 or 10 years earlier? Not that you wouldn’t have loved it, it’s just that we became so isolationist for awhile (maybe still).

    Happy anniversary of your arrival here, I am glad that you stayed. Do I contemplate what if? Probably too much. I don’t think it brings happiness to wonder how your life could have been different.

  2. I would never thought I’d be living in different countries every few years. although I left my childhood town when I was 9 years old to Argentina, I thought that would be my new home. When I moved to the US to study and then work, I thought I was happy living in DC area. Then I ventured out to a new way of living and enjoy it a lot. I might change again depending life circumstances and what I need at the moment, and that is fine. I don’t think I want to settle to one way of life, but open to new adventures and get out of the comfort zone so I keep challenging myself and learn new ways of life.
    Happy anniversary!

  3. I am definitely a What-If person!
    Happy anniversary. I think it’s wonderful to mark these occasions. Hope you have many decades of joy ahead in your “second” home.

  4. My 28th anniversary in the states will be coming up at the end of the year and like you I sometimes wonder “what if”. I didn’t come here alone but now I’m the last one left – everyone else has returned to Germany. But like you, I consider this (Florida, the US) home.
    Happy anniversary!!!

  5. Wow, 22 years! Isn’t it so interesting, the choices we make in life and where they lead us. So fascinating!

  6. We are SO LUCKY you came to California. The United States is definitely improved by having you here.

  7. Happy California-versary. You should be proud that you flew all the way to the US for those few month. And stayed put through everything going on.
    And I will forever remember that day as it is my sisters birthday.

  8. So you moved over just before 9/11? That must have been special.
    I have lots of What-ifs. What if we had never left Ireland in 2009? What if we had stayed in Sweden in 2019? My life in Sweden was good in many ways, but I was bored and unhappy and I didn’t feel at home there. Ireland is where I feel at home and fit in more than anywhere else, but in 2009 I wasn’t ready and as you said, a lot of growth needed to happen. To me I think the choices we made were the best at the time – and we live the best life now in Ireland.

  9. Happy anniversary! 22 years! Wow! I do sometimes contemplate those what-ifs. Like what if I hadn’t gone to the frat party (so out of character for me) where I met my husband? What if I hadn’t gone for the government job?

  10. 22 years, I suppose you never expected the move to be permanent. So brave and what a life-changing move.

    I’m still living in the city I was born in, along with all my family and also my husband’s family.

  11. Happy anniversary! I can relate to the what ifs. It took me over 10 years to make peace with the decision to stay here (which was not really a conscious decision but more a thing that happened). The what ifs become less often these days. It’s turning more into what’s next.

  12. Happy anniversary! I spend sooo much time mired in the “what if” scenarios. It can sometimes be a good exercise and sometimes, not a great one for my mental health! Ha.

  13. I contemplate my America-versary often. Late May (forget the date but can probably look on my old visa) 2002 so 21 years in New Jersey :) I often wonder where/who I would have been if I’d stayed in Russia or selected a different country instead… During these moments I feel nostalgic for my younger self, all alone in the US, and want to hug myself. But I also do not regret immigrating since I have the life that I always wanted, with all the victories and tribulations.

  14. Congrats on 22 years. And yes, I think we all wonder about the what-ifs!


  15. Wow, you got here only two days before 911! That is crazy and I am sure it is a story in itself. Happy Anniversary! Isn’t it fun/weird to think back on the choices you have made and how they have shaped you as a person and how they have caused you to arrive where you are today in life? It gets me a little mind blown and philosophical for sure! I am not really a regretful person, but I definitely look back and wonder where I would be if I had made other choices in many cases!

  16. I know I’ve read about this move before but it still stops me in my tracks to see how close to 9/11 you arrived. That must have been kind of terrifying for you and your parents! My parents didn’t even want me to study abroad in Australia in the spring semester of 2002, especially after 9/11. I still went of course.

    I do sometimes play the what if game. But I accept that the choices I made brought me to where I am which is a life I am very happy with! My what ifs are mostly around where I went to college. I never tried to get into an ‘impressive’ or prestigious university. I knew I would be paying for it so I went to an inexpensive state school in North Dakota. But it all worked out!

  17. San, I think we all play the what-if game, to some extent. I know I do. What if I had made a different choice at *that* point in my life? Where would I be? What would I be doing? I think of these as forks in the road (or, well, intersections, since the choices are often not binary). I wonder – a lot – about the “road less travelled”… glad to see that sentiment shared here. )

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