A New May Story: Staying in California

It’s May.

These last two years, May has brought about a shift. A change. A drastic tide to the normal flow and current of my life.


I tutor in September.

I tutor in October.

I tutor in November.

I tutor in December.

I enjoy the holidays.

I tutor in January.

I tutor in February.

I tutor in March.

I tutor in April.

I tutor in May —

And then I leave. Give May a week or two at most, and then I go on a cross-country adventure and have my world rocked for three months somewhere far from southern California.

Two Mays ago, it was Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Last May, it was Ridgecrest, North Carolina.

This May — it’s Orange County, California. Here. Where I’m currently typing this post.

This May, I’m not leaving. I’m staying.

TMZ: Griffith Observatory

Much of me still feels tormented by this decision of staying in SoCal rather than packing it up for another exciting adventure. And yet, part of me is indeed intrigued to see what the end of May and June and July even look like on the west coast.

I’ve never experienced a summer in California. Have only lived out here, at most, for nine months at a time between August and May. I still have no idea what exactly I’ll be doing all summer to support myself, though I have a couple academic/campy options on the table.

These last two Mays, I’ve had to abandon my middle school tutoring position with a few weeks still remaining in the school year. I always felt guilty doing that. Abandoning the kids with the other tutors naturally staying.

It’ll be uncharted territory to finish out this school year with these precious seventh and eighth graders. For whatever reason, I’ve connected with this particular batch of preteen monsters more than any of the kids from my last two years combined.

It all started with that emotional reunion in January, and it’s only gotten better these last four months. From making me laugh on carefree college road trips to making them laugh at  “serious” tutorial sessions, I just love these kids.

Apparently, we have a banquet at the end of the year (I’ve missed the last two end-of-year banquets!), and I’m stoked to see how that catered little event with the kiddos goes.

For the first time, I’m gonna watch these eighth graders graduate and leave me instead of my bailing on them. That’s uncharted territory. A change.

There’s also my incredible church and the potential to continue investing there in whatever capacity by staying this summer. Admittedly, I am somewhat excited to see how this whole staying venture into uncharted territory goes.

But yes, I’m devastated too. Still so saddened. I really wish my face was on this collage of beautiful faces. But it’s not; it never will be.

That’s hard.

The end of May and I’m sure much of June will be difficult — wondering what life is like at Camp Ridgecrest or some other magical escape.

But I guess I have my own unique adventure to enjoy this summer. My first summer on the west coast. An adventure not of leaving, but one of staying.

Whatever that entails…?

TMZ: Griffith Observatory Sunset with Hollywood Sign

  • MLYaksh

    Often, it’s so much easier just to run away, take flight so to speak, rather than stay on and fight. It takes more courage to remain where you are and keep pressing in to more unknowns. And as one who loves to wander, it’s made even more difficult. But I’m proud of your decision to stay in good old SoCal- I truly believe this summer is going to be just as impactful for you if you had been at Ridgecrest or some other camp. Simply be open to what God has for you in those few months.

    Oh, and from what I’ve heard, you’re gonna wanna have plenty of sun screen and summer clothing for this California summer. Makes Georgia look like a balmy cool spring.

    • TMZ

      No way man, I’ll take 100 degrees in California compared to 80 in Georgia any day. No humidity = heaven.

      I definitely feel the “itch” to wander again this summer. But there’s a curiosity that comes with staying, so I suppose I’m ready to stick it out and see what happens.

  • Rebecka

    As I was reading, I thought “sometimes the adventure isn’t leaving, it’s staying”, but I guess commenting that is unnecessary since you reached that conclusion yourself, haha. Anyway, it’ll be different from the last few years, and as someone who is desperate for some travel/ an adventure/ change of any kind herself, I understand how you feel. However, I have a feeling both you and the kids you tutor will be blessed by your staying this year. Enjoy the banquet!

    • TMZ

      My adventures have always involved leaving, so I’m excited to see if an adventure can still come by staying. Time will tell!

  • You wanderer you. You’re also somewhat of a dare-devil, toying with ledges in both those pics. It’s a little unnerving to watch…

    • TMZ

      As long as I’m not plummeting from said ledges, I quite enjoy the views.