When I was in high school, I was obsessed with farewell. I had this image of what it would be like when, accepted into NYU (or some other New York school… only New York), I left my hometown and finally got that grand farewell party, the Sitcom Finale sort of ending where I had tearful goodbyes with friends, reminisced about those funny/scary/silly/hungry moments of my life so far (in flashback-montage mode with a Snow Patrol song filling the background) and just as it was all about over, the girl who secretly had a crush on me all along would come out and admit it. And then I’d get on the plane, anyway.
Instead, my parents got divorced, there was no money for college and I ended up spending the next 4 years of college in my hometown, within miles of the house I grew up in. That took the steam out of my fantasy farewell.
5 years since I graduated college, I have had a great many farewells. Guess what? They aren’t that special.
But what I’ve learned from the many I’ve had is that everyone should leave everything they know at least once in their life (preferably many times). Some people reading this will immediately think, “NO!” Shutup pussy.
It goes like this:
You leave a place, and for a time you might feel an absence, a vacuum of instinct where the activities you once took for granted are no longer accessible to you and the people you saw daily now exist as static avatars on Facebook and Myspace. Of course, the intensity with which you miss anything or anyone is negatively correlated to time, and not just because the memory fades, but because to miss something is simply to notice a void, and all voids will eventually fill. Some faster than others.
We all like to believe that when we leave a place we will leave a void at least as large as the void we feel. Don’t count on it.
It’s the fear of the emptiness that keeps so many people in one place. These aren’t just emotional holes. The absence of a job (and its steady income), the loss of a home (be that familial home or just the post-collegiate apartment), the severing of ties with a social clique with which you share a common history and a shared obsession for bad 80s movies that have no business being deemed “Classics,” not even ironically (Patrick Swayze oeuvre, I’m looking at you). These are all legitimate reasons to fear making a change in your life, the dreaded relocation.
But when you empty a part of your life out and start over, something new will enter. Not in a “When a door closes a window opens” sort of bullshit way, but just in the very practical way we, as a species of cohabiting mammals, crave relations (and jobs, apartments, favorite hangouts, these are all just means to further relations). This doesn’t always work out in perfect symmetry. You very well will leave a good paying job in pursuit of something else and find (in this economy, especially) that no one is hiring. You may leave your comfy apartment with the great view into your hot neighbor’s shower only to get a new place where the tub leaks and you can hear your fat, ugly, Ukranian neighbors having angry sex all night (at least, you hope it’s sex they’re having). And you may leave a boy/girlfriend behind, a best friend or a close sibling and find that no one you meet quite ‘gets’ you like that person did.
Two solutions: Go back; or embrace the fact that nothing is the same and enjoy it, thrive in it. You get maybe 75 good years (if your genetics are fit) before everything goes to shit. What are you waiting for?
You’ve either heard it or you’ve said it: “You’ve changed,” with the implication that this is a bad thing. But why? Adaptability is the very core of our nature. It is the very core of all nature. And let’s face it, is there anyone more pathetic than the high school friend you meet 8 years later who still listens to the exact same music, quotes the same dumb movies and hangs out with the same friends?
Change for god’s sake. If your ancestors hadn’t changed, you wouldn’t be here. Somewhere down the line, our hairy precursors came across a fork in their evolutionary path and those that made the proper changes, the right adaptions, evolved and continued to exist long enough for you to be born. Lucky us.
And just like evolutionary adaption, change in and of itself is neither good nor bad. The act of changing has no inherent qualitative value. But if you change at the right moment, you might get the better job, the nicer apartment or the cool new friend with the hot sister. I’m just saying. One thing is for certain, though: Those who don’t ever change remain lemurs, or they just grow extinct.
Take that risk. The first tattoo I ever got was taken from Kerouac’s On The Road: “the Road is Life.” The point, rather than the inherent meaning that Kerouac intended, is that living is about constant momentum, and if you look back on your life and you find yourself in the same situation (whether that be job you hate, relationship you don’t really need anymore, artistic expression that has grown stagnant), a change has to come. Your change should be organic, something that makes sense. Leaving your spouse to join a circus won’t really benefit you if you hate clowns (and really, who doesn’t hate clowns?)
Imagine Tyler Durden with his gun to your head, you Raymond the store clerk, sweating on your knees. Can you answer his questions and be satisfied with where you are? If not, get off the ground and do something. The eternal threat of the final bullet is always pointed at your head.
“Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.”