I know, I know – that should be apparent by the very defining term of “life-changing adventure” but I guess I wasn’t quite prepared for precisely how my existence was going to be altered. I expected to have revelations about dating, relationships and myself. I anticipated misfires, shock and awe, an increased obsession with weddings shows over Dr. Who (short lived, promise, Matt Smith!) and wondering if it was wise to plow through 50 first dates before sticking around to go on second dates while Megs and I were already halfway to our next destination. But I wasn’t at all ready for exactly how my day-to-day life was going to change once I returned home.
Cliche as it is, the John Lennon lyric comes to mind as I think about how to explain this: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” While galavanting about the country, everyone I know and love was churning away on their lives. Friendships were forged, relationships were sealed with a ring (and some were broken down), jobs were taken, new hobbies were pursued, homebases were swapped. And while in some ways my entire mental reality was being torn apart and put back together Humpty-Dumpty style, everyone else’s physical reality was shifting.
It reminded me of leaving for college. I remember getting in the family van, gripping my stuffed puppy Jesse tightly, and knowing that as I shuttled off for education the people I was leaving behind were going to move forward without me. Sure enough, they went on extravagant camping adventures and road trips, listened to hours of Incubus on repeat, and partied like rockstars with old friends and new – all of which I missed out on as I was busy 300 miles away being ostracized by my roommate, comforting myself by buying a stuffed owl to chat with, and feeling as lost as the kid who stood up in the dining commons and yelled, “Is anyone else from Michigan?!” with such a hopeful sadness that I wanted to say “ME!” just so we could both stop being alone. Oh right, I was learning too mom – promise.* Though I returned throughout the year during quarter breaks and for long weekends, exchanged lengthy angsty emails and postcards, and tried to split myself between my new world and my old one, the old one ran away with spoon while I was busy moon jumping.
And the same thing happened when I hit the road with Megan. Substitute angsty blogs for angsty emails, stuffed owls for Dan Savage podcasts, and a much more reasonable ability to accept life’s changes (fine, jury’s still out on that one) – and voila: spoons were running in a flurry of directions while I arced about, landing in what only looked like the same spot as I’d taken off from. Joan Didion pointed out that “Life changes in an instant. The ordinary instant,” but life also changes at a simmer, a slow burn that is nearly impossible to see unless you step away from it and return again.
Just how is my life different now? Every time I write out the specifics they sound superficial, melodramatic, and naive, even to me – which makes me think those points are irrelevant, and all that truly matters is what I do about how I feel. Here’s to continued forward motion, and instead of trying to fit myself back into where I was, understanding where I belong in the present tense.
*Seriously: Creative Writing with Professor Corum. Native American Religion. Intro to Ethics. Writing Composition. Intro to Acting. Shakespeare for Film and Stage. Intro to Linguistics. Swimming. Intermediate Basketball. A Survey History of Photography. Honors Intro to Environmental Science. German. French Horn lessons and horn group. Underwater Archeology Plus sitting in on the first day of a lot of classes I didn’t wind up taking, including Antarctica, History of Jazz, and Religious Studies: Buddhism.