I thought I’d be here forever, even though I’d arrived rather late. Most people find this place at the beginning of their second decade. I was nearly halfway through my third. It worked though. I was young at heart and my semi-transient life and lack of any major responsibilities was testament to that. That may make me sound frivolous and undisciplined, but I assure you I curated my life according to my need to be un-tethered, and it was good, if often without direction.
Yet, transience can become tiring, and an un-tethered life can leave you feeling ungrounded. In time, despite having eschewed the conventional ideals of success, I slowly gravitated toward that universal desire to settle down and have a home. To put down roots. To plant a garden. On a deeper level, I suppose it also included a desire for security and an urge to belong somewhere, to be part of a place and a people. I mean, really, who doesn’t want that feeling of inclusion and belonging?
I thought I’d found that here, in this postcard place. This bucket list place. A wild place of oceans and mountains and independent spirits. A place of such beauty that it stirred my soul every single day. It provided a reprieve from our strip mall culture of haste and need. A reprieve from a culture constantly in search of some novelty to allay the boredom. Yet again, in time, that seeming idyll began to unravel. Not through any catastrophic event, but at the peak of my success.
Over time, the defining elements of my life here began to shift. My jobs changed, pulling me from that whiskey-lubed nightlife scene that made everyone feel like friends. Honestly, I was glad. I felt I wore that persona a little more sloppily every year. Even to the point of embarrassment at times. Additionally, a few of my closest friends moved on to pursue lives in other places. A few others simply drifted away as my amusement value declined. The illusion of being friends with everyone began to fade, and once again I realized that I was really just surrounded by acquaintances. By friends of friends. People I knew only by familiarity of face. Friendly acquaintances with whom the entirety of connection lay in a mutual friend, now absent or unconcerned. I began to realize that too many of those people not only didn’t give a shit about me, but in all honesty, were people with whom I’d never really felt at home with anyway.
Story of my life. Feeling misunderstood. I can’t really blame others. It’s I who doesn’t trust. It’s I who holds herself in reserve. It’s I who is afraid. You wouldn’t necessarily know these things about me, even if you knew me. These insecurities often emerge as aloofness, superficiality, and just a general aura of awkwardness. That’s only half, though. That’s the me you might see if I’m uncertain of your intentions. Fortunately, there are other friends. Friends whose intentions I am confident in. Whose acceptance of my own peculiarities is not temperamental. These are the folks I’ve begun to gravitate towards. These friends often see me in a whole other light. Allowing me to reflect in a more favorable light. They are few, and for each of them, I am grateful. As for my own constrained challenges at social adventures, I realize that I can’t shrug off my own contribution, or lack of, to that reality.
Anyway, back to my story. The story of the forever place that wasn’t. It happened quietly and unexpectedly. This place was not supplanted by love for another. I did not suddenly discover a new dream to chase. I simply came home from a trip one November day, and knew it wasn’t home any longer. The crisp monochromatic winter that I’d always found to be such a splendor suddenly felt drab and even a little oppressive. The tiny community that allowed me that sense of belonging without having to make much in the way of commitment suddenly felt peopled with strangers. Even my job, which I do dearly love, and which allows me to have both sufficient income and sufficient time suddenly feels like it’s not the best of what I can offer. None of it’s enough anymore.
So here I sit. Fallen out of love with a place I loved so dearly, not knowing where to go or what to do next. Yet, knowing from experience that a new place won’t fix the old me. Knowing that the meaningful relationships that bind us to a place are my responsibility, and that another town, even another country won’t make that easier for me. Feeling loss even though I’m sill here. Feeling sorrow at leaving those friends who do embrace me for me. Feeling the fondness of a farewell, as yet unmade. So here I sit. With not a single solid plan in sight.
It all sounds so glum, but that’s only the now part of the story.
When I moved here, I was so tired of starting over. New places, new people, new business start-ups. I liked it here and I thought alright, that’s it. THIS IS IT. I don’t want to start a new practice in a new town. I don’t want to try to make new friends, (I’m not very good at it anyway). I don’t want to move again. The idea of starting over, even one more time, seemed dreadful and overwhelming. Until that one day, when everything changed. Now, starting over sounds liberating. It fills me with optimism and a sense of opportunity. Therein lies the danger. I know how it goes, I mean I’m not new to this. I know the flush of excitement always wanes…..but I begin to wonder, does it have to? Is that waning enthusiasm tied to my own limited expectations? Is learning to live a good life about the life or the perception? Is it about chance, or about the skill you develop toward living? Can I take what I’ve learned about myself, my work and life in general and create an engagement that evolves and fluctuates without actually deteriorating?
I begin to think I can.
I’ve set my mind free these past few months. To wander and curate and imagine the lives I might live. Potential being limited only by the possibilities I was able to conceive of. Beyond that even, beyond the vision, beyond the words, beyond the hope, I can feel even more options pressing in. Options I haven’t learned to consider yet. Options only a random suggestion away. I begin to feel like I’m guessing, even forcing, perhaps trying to intuit a thing unknown. Sometimes I worry that I’m lost to life and fantasizing as a form of distraction. Sometimes I fear that I’ll leap, as I always have, and that it will bite me in the ass this time. I struggle with perceived need for certainty and direction, yet the more I try to ensure that, the more I feel that I’m grasping. It begins to feel unnatural. I begin to believe that perhaps I just need to cut myself loose, trust myself, and do some way-finding. Such an action may be without defined direction, but it certainly wouldn’t be without experience and pragmatism. I’m a clever woman in these regards. I could work a little here. Travel a little there. Taste and sample of these possibilities and places to see what draws me in. See what holds me. What inspires me. It’s the answer that feels the most right, and the one that scares me the most.