Thursday, January 25, 2007

Letting the Days Go By

“And you may ask yourself. Well… How did I get here?”

I read a lot of people’s personal blogs. It’s my hobby, like some people read about politics or sports or whatever. After the New Year a lot of people posted things looking back on 2006, reviewing how their resolutions had turned out, making plans for the future. And as I vaguely contemplated doing the same thing, I looked back over last year, and…

Holy Shit, y’all.

2006 was not supposed to be a big year for me. I didn’t start the year out with big plans. I had one modest resolution I’ll get into in a minute. I had no intention of changing my life.

My entire life changed in 2006. And I think it all began in Texas.

“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack.
And you may find yourself in another part of the world.”

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I went to Texas in September of 2005 with the Red Cross to help with Hurricane Rita. I spent three weeks there, just over two of them in a small church building with no screens sleeping on the floor with 20 some odd other people in an area with no electricity or potable water. We fed people.

I don’t know how to explain what I started to figure out there except that it started with SD. By the time I went to Texas, I had been living in DC almost ten years. I had cultivated a personality over that time, figured out who I was and what I wanted. I had a life, and with that life came certain parameters, and I lived within those parameters. The life I had was a really good life, and I had no reason to question those parameters. SD made me question those parameters.

“And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile.
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife.
And you may ask did I get here?”

I don’t think it was so much about SD as a person. He’s fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t like he did anything outrageous to suddenly make me question myself. He was just him. And he didn’t fit into any of the parameters of my life. Yet… he made me happy. Not in a, “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you” kind of way, but in a, “I haven’t laughed this hard or felt so calm and happy in a really long time” kind of way. And maybe once or twice I stopped for a second and thought something along the lines of, “You would have missed this. If you were home, in your comfort zone with all of your shields, you would never have even thought about this. You would have walked right on by it.” I knew that somehow I was uncomfortable with that thought. It buzzed in the back of my head, a little noise.

“Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...”

But I didn’t really delve into it, because I came home, and I was three weeks behind in law school and I was three weeks behind at work and then it was the holidays and finals and my general November-to-December freak out. Except during this time SD called me. And I was sitting on the balcony, smoking and drinking wine and talking to him, and complaining about work, and he said to me, “You don’t like your job. You don’t want to be a bureaucrat. But you’re comfortable making a lot of money and not having to worry, so you go home every night and you drink your wine and you pretend to be happy.”



I have no idea how SD knew that. He swears he was kidding at the time, but it hit me between the eyes like a ton of bricks. That little noise? Got a lot louder.

“And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!”

In January, I joined a gym. In Texas I had met another guy who was simply in phenomenal physical shape. Again, with the comfort zone entirely stripped away I could see myself more clearly and realized that my lack of physical conditioning was appalling. So I joined the gym, and I started working with a personal trainer, for the first time to get strong, not merely to lose weight.

My life was very quiet for a few months. That was good, because there was so much noise in my head. The gym became my safe place, a place I went to get on an elliptical and run and run and let my thoughts go until they made sense. I realized some things. My best friend and I weren’t friends anymore. Somehow, over the last year I had completely stopped talking to a person who had been my other half and a huge part of my identity, and I had barely even noticed. I had quit a lot of the activities I used to do because I didn’t have the time and they just weren’t fun anymore. I didn’t have the emotional energy for relationships or people. I went to the gym. I watched a LOT of TV. American Idol made me happy. 24 and Supernatural drew more emotion from me than real life had for a long time. And for awhile I went to the gym and I watched TV and I read funny recaps of the TV that I watched and I listened to the noise in my head. For awhile, that was enough.

About March I decided it was time to reach out a little. By then I had realized a few things, namely that who I had been, a lot of those parameters, were simply not who I was anymore. I had some new friends, I had some old friends, and I needed to cultivate relationships with the ones I really valued that were not based on the person I had developed while I was in college but the person I was now. So I called El Capitan. And she was fabulous and dragged me out of the house and made me social. But not just to bars where we got drunk and sang off key to Journey. To dinner parties. To BBQ’s. To long talks on the balcony with a bottle of wine and contraband cigarettes. It was wonderful.

Peanut joined my gym, and we spent long, long hours sitting outside after a workout drinking protein shakes and talking. Kate and Top Model and I ate sushi and hummus and watched ANTM. A and I had hysterical gchat conversations. The noise had quieted down some. I could look, really look, at the life I had.

I had a fabulous life.

And I didn’t want it.

“Water dissolving...and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!”

One of my good friends from law school left for Iraq in the spring. It had happened kind of suddenly, so he had already gone through the summer interview process for associateships. We went out for drinks to say goodbye to him, and he started talking about the jobs he had had lined up. He was planning on moving to Texas after graduation. Texas was a great place to practice law. Texas paid associates a ton of money. Texas was more laid back than the DC/New York area.

My mind started again.

My parents live in Texas.

I LOVE Texas.

But… I have a job. And a life. And there are RULES, and the rules say that you don’t quit a great job and move thousands of miles away. By yourself. You just don’t.

But then I read some blogs, and read about people who had. Who had done just that. And I got excited, like I hadn’t felt in a long, long time.

So I researched firms and entered the on campus interview lottery. And I took a week off of work and did the on campus interviews. And suddenly I was being taken out to fabulous restaurants and being flown to Texas every 36 hours and there were interviews and insanity and I liked the firms and they liked me and I had offers and I accepted them.

I… accepted them.

So even though work didn’t yet know and life had not changed one bit in the present, I had committed to changing my entire life. My city. My career. My fabulous Canadian family who refuses to move with me. Peanut, who I am still deluding myself I can talk into moving with me.

Yesterday I told my bosses, which is why I am able to finally post some of this stuff here. In three months I will no longer be a “mid-twentysomething beaurocrat/law student living in the Nation's Capital and trying not to fall down to often”. (Well, except the falling down part, that will never change.) I’m not exactly sure how all this is going to work out.

And I’ve obviously left out a big part of all of this, which was meeting the Joker. By the time I met him I had already made most of the big decisions, it was just the specifics left. That voice from Texas came back into my head, except this time it was saying, “Thank god I didn’t miss this.” Whatever path I had moved to, whatever changes I had made, had worked at least in part. Because I didn’t miss this.

And sometimes it’s hard. I look back on 2006 and think about when it was quiet and sometimes I miss that. Because it’s hard to feel emotions based on real life instead of reality TV. And it’s hard to love real people and have real relationships instead of imaginary ones with people on the internet. And it’s a lot more tiring to actually implement big life changing plans than to dream about them. But that’s life, and that’s ok.

“And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
My god!...what have I done.”

I don’t know exactly what I’ve done. But 2007 is here, and I’m going to find out.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007? The HELL??

Hey, y'all!

Ok, so I survived Christmas with the Family That is Not My Own, quite well, actually. In fact, the Joker probably should have informed me that his family is genetically predisposed to awesomeness, because seriously? These are potentially the nicest people in the world. So clearly, I went in worrying about all the wrong stuff. I worried about mean sisters or possesive mothers, all of which was clearly insane. I did not, however, worry about the following:

1. Missing Luggage
2. Projectile Vomiting.

Both of which graced my holiday.

The first mild calamity was that our luggage decided that it wanted to stay in Texas, where our layover was. I can't say I BLAME the luggage, because if given a choice I too, generally want to stay in Texas. In fact, I have the sort of East Coast bias where Texas actually is kind of "West" to me, and I have a vague distrust of the actual "western" states, because... what? I don't know. I don't even necessarily LIKE it, but I get the East Coast thing. And I seriously thought (think? still?) that the Seattle Seahawks were (are) a hockey team. So I couldn't really blame the luggage, at least my luggage, for assuming Texas was the end game.

However, it added just slightly to the awkwardness of meeting the SO's parents when I had to borrow his mom's pajama's the first night. Again, thank god the whole family just rocks, because that's the type of thing that can scar.

Anyway, it got far worse Friday night, when I thought that I was worried about meeting a bunch of people. I had spent the day baking cookies with the Joker's mom (ok, ok, I know, the whole experience was a little Hallmarky, and I loved it), and life was great, until about an hour before the people were scheduled to arrive.

I got nauseated.
I got shakey.
I got cold chills.
I became violently ill.

But y'all. seriously, one would think I am Southern sometimes, because I manage to pull off the entire party, meeting all of the Joker's family friends and the like, being violently ill every twenty minutes, and no one noticed. I occaisionally rock.

So that night was No. Fun., as I got up every hour on the hour to be ill, and finally at 3 am realized the following:

1. We had a 6 hour drive into the mountains the next morning.
2. If I couldn't keep water down, I was going to get seriously dehydrated and may need medical attention.
3. I was not, under any circumstances, ruining these nice people's Christmas.

So I grabbed a bottle of water and a pillow and relocated to the bathroom floor until by sheer force of will I kept water down. By the morning I was shakey, but travel ready.

Then the Joker got sick.

We all made it to Grandma's and had a lovely Christmas, but I seriously do not recommend the flu upon meeting your SO's family for the first time. Especially since his whole family got sick after we left, and now I just keep picturing his family commenting on me:

"Yep, met the Joker's girlfriend. She makes us sick."


Anyway, it's the New Year, and looking back over last year I was kind of like, Holy Shit! How did all THAT happen? And the more I think about it, the more it began back in Texas in '05, and there's a lot there I never wrote about, and I think it might be time. So I'll be working on those posts for awhile.

Happy New Years!

Labels: , ,