Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How I Got Where I Am

Listening: Don't Tell Me It's Over- Gym Class Heroes

It was early July and I was hurdling down the highway in a car belonging to my friend’s parents when I decided I was going to move to Maine. This was sort of a shock to me, but not nearly as much as to the dear friend I had already bargained to move in with in Boise, Idaho.

I spent several years in Idaho and attempted to go back every other year. It had a desert beauty that was different than any other place I had lived. The smell of sage in the summer, the nearly unbearable heat, and the putrid cold of the winter had haunted my soul and dreams for every day since I had been removed on military orders. I missed it. Anytime we rolled passed a pasture of cows I would get homesick for the barren lower west of the state. My plans had always involved going back, getting a degree from Boise State and spending my adult life lounging around with some of my favorite people in the world. Friends I still depended on all the time to keep me sane and grounded.

But from the point that the wheels of the jet landed in the Portland Jetport, I felt something I had not felt in years.

I felt at home.

It was an idea I battled for the first few days of my visit. I had promised, swore even, that I would go to Idaho when I graduated with my degree in December. It was all I had wanted for years of my life. An attainable dream I was five months away from achieving.

As the car that picked me rolled down the interstate away from the city to Augusta and we were surrounded by trees and stories of how the pack I would be introduced to got along, I felt comfortable and even eager to meet these strangers. Admittedly, and I let my friend know this, I hated people. Over all they just aren’t the sort of beings I like to be around. Emily had great taste though, and I trusted her.

Days later when we were heading back from the coast with her brother in the driver seat and me and the lovely earth eyed David in the backseat discussing the itis and sleep comas and what are plans would be for me leaving I knew I was going to move up there. I was trying to convince Sarah to come with me because I love her endlessly and we are family, and I cannot imagine life without her. There was no plan, no organization. Simply the knowledge that I was going to live in Maine because its where I felt like I belonged.

I have been accused of moving for a boy. Though, we were not seeing each at the time and in all honesty hadn’t spent a lot of time together. It’s hard to explain that when someone already has their ideas set about a situation. Yes, David is a factor in my choice, but at the time I had no idea if my fantasy of dating him would ever be a reality. I simply had a feeling I had not felt in several years.

I was content.

It is such a simply thing to be, a state that too many take for granted with demands for more and more until their misery consumes them and their inability to sustain their happiness drowns them. The past four years had been a trial to me at times and fast-forwarded in others. There was no sense of stability for me to hold on to. I had my family, but the fear of it falling apart was too real for it to be a comfort. I had my schooling but in the scheme of my life listening to a professor tell me how to understand something lost the beauty it held when I was in grade school.

In Maine, driving along the tree lined highways where deer and fawns could be seen waiting to cross a street and the river cuts under an abandoned railroad bridge behind the gaming café, I was comfortable and happy. I was at peace. I hadn’t expected that to happen, not to me, and definitely not in a place I had chosen to visit on a whim to escape the reality of my life for a few days. A close friend and I had mutually chosen to put an end to whatever romance that could have been. It was the year after my grandfather, a man I loved dearly and had not seen in 13 years, had passed away from a heart attack. My first funeral.

I suppose in retrospect after I received that phone call from my wailing younger sister, who was fourteen at the time, I had changed. The anger at my biological father over being so self-absorbed and cowardly about calling me himself burned at me for several months. My anger at him for not bothering to pick up his other daughter so she could say goodbye to her grandfather, a man she’d known her whole life, made me want to hit him. I wanted very badly to hurt him and make him understand what type of person I thought he was. When I saw him for the first time since 1997, I lost my nerve. He was a wreck and my eyes burned from my mascara mingling with my tears. I hugged him and tried desperately to let it go.

My boyfriend at the time broke up with abruptly right after I got back from the funeral and I took two months off from work. Two weeks of that time were spent driving through Oregon with Sarah, and staying in a cabin on the beach. It was beautiful and calming and I will never be able to make her understand what she did for me. I felt like I was falling into tiny, miserable pieces and had been waiting for the other shoe to drop. But she was there to help be and we were adventurers and for a few weeks the world was our oyster.

I think that was when I really decided I needed to go. It was solidified, there were no actual plans made, but it was what I wanted. It’s what I needed, in all honesty. My baby brother was off to be a first year at the University of Virginia, I was stuck in a dead end retail job with managers I hated and customers who gave me ulcers. I developed severe anxiety about life. Nothing felt real, nothing made sense and nothing mattered. Eventually I started trying again. I made friends with a girl from work, and tried not to hate where I was at in my life. I began rewriting my novel. I tried to decide exactly what I needed to do with my life to be happy.

I changed my hair every three weeks until I was exhausted with running away from myself and who I was.

A friend and I began hanging out, and he reminded me of everything I wished I could be sometimes. I began taking Paxil to control the gut-ringing anxiety that had made me lose 15 pounds in two weeks until I was a meager 103 pounds soaking wet. The new manager at my job made me wonder how much jail time I could get for fist-fighting on company property. I made more friends and we went to dinner every week and it was great. I was gaining something of myself back. This gentleman and I parted ways peacefully and I cut my hair and bought a plane ticket that would change the direction of my life.

Emily greeted in Portland (Maine, not Oregon. Portland in Oregon is for bitches) with a bear hug and a stranger named Chelsie who was decent but obviously had stuff to work through that got in the way of her personality. I was greeted at the gaming café by Emily’s mom, dad and brother. Everyone loved me and I felt like I was 10 years old again staying the night. Sue fussed over my weight and we all laughed. I played pool. Then I met Jaime and David while we made plans to do silly things like ghost walks (worth it) and touring an abandoned asylum. David wore cargo shorts and a scarf with Converse in desperate need of duct tape or super glue and Jaime had cropped hair and shorts on over her colorful tights and purple shoes. They were beautiful and there was an instantaneous need for me to know them, and I wasn’t going to rest until I did.

The way the group worked was something I had missed after years of having one or two friends at a time. They were a family. We all slept over at Emily’s house in a pile in the living room while David played and beat Dead Space 2 all night long until us four girls took over the bedroom with beanbags and open windows. It was the best sleep in a few months for me, and it was nice to be in a place where leaving the door unlocked wasn’t considered idiocy.

I knew pretty immediately that I was going to live there. I had no idea how I was going to get there, or how I was going to pay for it, but I knew. I kept telling Emily and David and my parents that it was going to work out and to stop worrying about it. Things fall into place when they should, and this was going to happen. I had no doubts. Plans or no plans there nothing stopping this force of nature from occurring because when I had been up in the state I had been told in a subtle voice from nowhere that it would happen. Everyone has become pieced together in magically mind-bending ways.

After mom’s second hospital stay and I quit my job at Forever 21, I took a few months off from work. My car, my beloved white ninja, was murdered by a flashflood that took over our rented condo. I visited my family in South Carolina a few times. I wondered how I was going to make this happen. Emily and I began planning. I bought a new car and lived off of my payoff and savings until I landed a fantastic job at H&M that I was able to get transferred up north. Emily found an apartment that adores dogs and was just within our price range and didn’t have bars on the windows.

It’s open for us to move in the weekend I move up there. Destiny or something like that. I’m excited about it and I can’t wait. I have to visit my brother at school before I leave, and I need money to rent the U-Haul but it’s coming. I’m going to pay my grandfather back as well. I’m scared of leaving my family for the first time, but I know I’ll be alright. Dad is making me sign a contract stating if he gets his business to happen that I’ll come down and work it. Which I will. A promise is a promise. I’ll make him pay for it and count it as a tax write-off though.

17 days to go. Here I come, ready or not. Here I come.

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