So much is still unknown, but it bothers me less and less. After a few days of loafing around in my tree house, I got my shit together and made myself a schedule. Mornings are for reading, writing, and revising. Afternoons are for learning or excursions–so far I’ve signed up for advanced Spanish classes and introductory weaving classes. I also have a couple lakeside communities I’d like to visit, just to take a stroll and maybe have a bite to eat, while I’m here. Mostly, I just want to be. I want my head to clear, to find its center once again. For so long I’ve felt pulled in far too many directions, and strongly, that it’s nice to have almost nothing to do–and the things I have to do, they’re mostly for fun. The writing and revising is the only thing I’m taking seriously–and while at first I was quite overwhelmed by all of the material I could attempt, I have since made some decisions about what to focus on: while I may, at the spur of any moment, decide to write something new, what I really want to work on is revision. The revision, specifically, of four recent essays/stories, and a few recent poems. I’ve spent the past few mornings reading and making notes, tomorrow begins the actual editing and re-writing process.
But: where will I live, after this month is over? I’m still not certain, but I know it will be somewhere south–that much I have decided. Where will I work? I’m not sure, but I’ve already been offered one job and was chased down for another interview (both of which I turned down, a VERY new experience for me), so I’m sure I’ll find employment somewhere.
And. As soon as I drove away, I no longer doubted me, and that’s all that matters. I, too, worried I was doing the wrong thing by leaving–after all, I was leaving so much! But Rochester never felt right, especially the past few years–and while that feeling hardly seemed like enough to go on. And once I’d left, that feeling felt like more than enough. Don’t get me wrong–it was still a departure I grieved–but once I was gone, I knew I’d done the right thing. Sometimes, I think, the hardest thing to do is pull the trigger. There’s all this doubt and fear and sweating, and then you finally do it, and it’s OK. And you just keep going on with your life, changed, on a new route, and possibly sad, but OK.
I’m glad, and incredibly fortunate, to be here. I’m so lucky I have this month to contemplate, to work on personal projects that are important to me, to see and learn about a new place, to improve my Spanish, to learn a new craft. The days pass so deliberately–punctuated with small but very meaningful events here and there: new things I saw, a latte on the roof, helping with mead-making, thoughts about a particular essay. I’ve also experienced so much relief–relief from feelings that have haunted me for way too long, relief from a seemingly endless cycle of doubt and fear and a pressing sense of impossibility. And it is not merely a mechanism of escape–I don’t feel good simply because I’ve abandoned my life–in all senses, I haven’t. It’s right here with me–I think about it every day–what am I going to do? Where am I going to go? Which state certification shall I tackle this morning? I think I feel good because I finally have space: space to think, to evaluate, to edit and alter, space to be who I am with a sense of hope and possibility, not shame and an apparently eternal sense of aloneness. There is a place for me, and it might not be or look like what I’ve previously thought–I just have to be open to it in order to find it. I think, perhaps, what is often right for us does not arrive hand-delivered and wrapped up in the packaging we thought it would. Nor is it always obvious, or even easy. I also think I feel good because I did it: the thing that scared me, the thing I thought I could not. I left. And because I did it, I have a greater sense of power over my life than I did before. I’m not a victim of my circumstances, I can make changes if I want to. I can create a better and happier life, and I can do it in a way that works for me, even if others disagree with it. It doesn’t, in the end, matter what anyone thinks.
Is it a coincidence that on my flights down here I felt the calmest I have in years? They were not flawless and fearless like they used to be, I did not enjoy the turbulence; I’m not sure I’ll ever get that back. But I watched out the window almost the whole time. I marveled at the clouds. I took pictures. I read my book. I napped. A year ago, I was in a panic on my best friend’s lap on our flight back from Savannah, certain our plane would crash. If you don’t believe me, ask her, I’m sure she was horrified at my (public) behavior. But a year ago, I still felt trapped. A year ago, everything felt wrong and I felt powerless to change it. Phobias are complex creatures and I can’t simply say that the decision to change my life banished the it to some distant wasteland, but I do believe it helped.
None of this is very poetic or mysterious, but I am OK with it. I’ll save that energy for my projects here. I just want to share what I’m thinking about and learning as I go along 🙂