The truth is most of me had given up. I had resigned myself to the idea that perhaps not everyone gets to have a life of their own making. That my parents and their parents and most certainly their parents, had settled for a quiet, ordinary life and discarded the hippie pursuit of happiness for the need for peace. Of some sort. Somewhere, some kind of way. They had resigned themselves to settling for the things in their lives that they could control with the least path of resistance, since life certainly wasn’t going to smooth the way for them. They’d gotten jobs that paid the bills and found spouses that were nice enough I suppose or perhaps they stayed alone. They found a place in the world they could carve out some silence if they needed it and had ordinary children in an ordinary house that felt like home when they closed the door behind them at the end of a long day.
They had done it, and so could I.
But then there was this other part. This tiny part. The part that made me keep looking at apartments and houses that weren’t in the city I lived in. The part that made me apply for jobs I found, despite them being long distance. That sent my heart leaping into my throat whenever I’d get a response, though those were few and far between. It was the part that lay in bed at night, gazing up at the ceiling and defiantly muttering to the heavens, I know you hear me.
I think that part of me used to be bigger. It was the ferocious and fearless part of me that convinced me it was an excellent idea to go to school far from home and pursue something creative rather than practical. It was the part that made me willful and unafraid, in class, in conversation, in life, in love.
Basically, I was as stupid as I was awesome. Back then.
But then I grew up. Learned to temper myself. Sky high ambitions sank to treetop level, then roof level, the eye level, before eventually there was no loftiness to my pursuits at all, just a kind of forward lurch aimed at just getting through the day. Surviving. Not living.
And then suddenly, things started to change. A new job came from nowhere. Every obstacle that seemed to rise up between me and the life I’d been quietly praying about seemed to fall away almost as quickly as they arose. Things started happening. And not happening. Suddenly the whole universe was working in concert to give me everything I said I wanted. And I was overwhelmed.
In the end (or the beginning, I guess, depending on how you look at it), I surrendered to this thing that was happening to me in a way that I have not been able to manage in years. I decided to focus on gratitude; for bottomless charm and razor sharp intellect that carried me through countless interviews. For being unexpectedly blessed by complete strangers. For friends that love me like we share blood. For the small part that refused to die.
It was probably the first time in my adult life I have left anyone or anything (and god knows I have done so much leaving) that it wasn’t bittersweet.
On the road, I tried to commit to memory the way the trees rise out of the swamp in Wallisville. The wild flowers that punctuate the ends of two lane highways. The way the wind barrels uninhibited across the flatlands of Vidor. The sticky sweetness of the air in the heel of the bayou. Somewhere east of Hammond but west of Slidell, with the sun hung low and reaching thin fingers of light across the murky marsh water, I looked up through my sunroof and smiled.
“I knew you heard me.”