Image by Pierre J. via FlickrMy Dad asked me this morning, "If 10 years ago, you knew what you know today, where would you be on your journey?"
First thing I had to do was figure out where I was 10 years ago...
Stacy and I were nearing the end of our 4-odd years of being in and out of a relationship together. We questioned whether we'd actually ever be happy apart because we kept coming back together. So, we decided to spend the days before Thanksgiving in Hawaii with an intent to really focus on the things that we liked about each other, the things that we thought were important and the things that we felt were missing. I remember flying home and everything was closed; we settled for eating hot dogs as our Thanksgiving meal.
A month later I was on a plane to Indiana as Claire's date to a holiday party. We'd been trading emails, IMs, phone calls and texts for a year and a half and it was time for us to meet. Claire had many of the things that I thought I wanted, but had never experienced: fashion sense, world traveling experience, attitude, flair, a design-type with huge dreams about a career that she was willing to pull up all the tent pegs to pursue--a lot like me.
What was different between her and Stacy, at the time, drove me to experience more with Claire, but ultimately helped me realize that the kind, motherly, sometimes comical nature of Stacy was just as important as Claire's experience in the world.
And that knowledge in the above paragraph makes this question hard to answer. As difficult as my year and a half with Claire was--a heart-ripping, soul-trying, dehydrating, physically-wearing 18 months--I love that time most in my life than practically any other. Why? I learned more about who I am in my time with her--the depth of my emotional and physical well--than with anyone that I've ever been with before or since. That knowledge is invaluable. Until you've been pushed to your limits you cannot know what you are capable of enduring or, on the flip side, what you are capable of accomplishing.
I remember laying on the floor speaking to Claire's mom. I had no tears left to cry, but my body refused to cease trying. I had no words that I could form and speak with any hint of comprehension. Her mom just sat there and listened, consoled me, held me in her arms from afar, shed a few tears of her own and finally said, "You have to leave her. You have to. Before it kills you."
With some help with friends, I climbed up out of my deep, dark empty well (it took a few years) and started to write. And, as I wrote, I learned that it was what I'm meant to do.
So, to answer my Pop's question, where would I be on my journey?
As much as I move around to experience new things, I likely wouldn't be where I am right now. I wouldn't have sold a condo somewhere or maybe I would have stayed in a condo longer somewhere or wouldn't have purchased a condo somewhere or maybe I wouldn't have run from the hard work with a good woman who I started dating when I first returned to my home town... who knows... but I've loved every trip that I've taken in the past 10 years (and there are a few that I should have taken that I didn't).
There are two clear decisions that I might change: not returning to someone that I really had a connection with when I left San Diego to "change the country" in DC and purchasing this anchor of a mortgage that makes it hard to continuously travel the world, as I'd really just rather do right now. I have no regrets, and the friends, family and experiences that are in my life because of where I am are fantastic; don't want to take anything away from them at all, but I'm struggling to realize my full potential here, and the struggle hasn't been the type that makes for great writing, makes more for poor health and a chubby beer belly.