My mom rode with me on the long drive north. And are those jean shorts I'm wearing? Good grief.
I'm not sure I can actually point to a "distinct moment". I am not a spontaneous person. Every decision I've made has been made with great deliberation and thought. And in some cases, I've needed the universe to give me a little push in the right direction.
After college, I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. I started my first real job, and I made some wonderful friends. I was traveling quite a bit for work; but I was traveling with a lot of my friends, so it was more fun than tiring at that point. After a couple years, many of my best friends started making life changes. Some got married and started families. Many moved. Charlotte is a nice, manageable, little city, and it was a great place to start out. But I knew it wasn't home. I got bored and needed a change.
I spent months deliberating my next move. Where should I go? I could have gone anywhere, really. I worked for a large company and could have requested a move to most major cities. I considered San Francisco (too expensive and far from family), Seattle (wet and too far from family), Chicago (too far from the ocean), New York (it's tough being an introvert in NYC), and Boston. Obviously I chose Boston. My little sister lived in the area at the time, and my older sister was in New York, so at least I'd have some family nearby. Otherwise, I didn't know anyone.
I arranged the transfer, loaded up a moving truck, and moved into a very expensive single apartment. My rent tripled! But I was on the train line, and I had my own space, and I loved every single thing about the city. I took a week off for the move, and after my family left, I did some exploring on my own. My first day to myself, I went to Fenway Park, purchased a single ticket at the window (you could do that back then!), and watched a Red Sox game in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. I had a beer, sat in the sunshine, and had a wonderful day. I spent the rest of the week doing some more exploring and getting settled in. The following Monday, I hopped on a plane for work, as I would do a lot for the next several years. Returning back to Boston later that week, I very distinctly remember getting off the plane. I smelled the ocean air, saw the city lights, and I knew I was home.