6 Years

June 1st, 2005.

That was the day I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Two weeks prior, I had graduated college and celebrated my 22nd birthday.

Counter to any impression that I may have given, I did not set out from my hometown with the intention of pursuing some ambitious decade spanning project.  Charlotte was merely a stopgap before moving to Chicago.  And from there…

I don’t know. Did I have a vision of my future back then?  Writing, in some manner, sure.  And marriage, probably.  Settled in the suburbs someday?  It’s hard to conceive:  The person I could have been instead of the person I am.

How do we make sense of the forks in the road?

Admittedly, my path-less-taken life puts all of my choices into stark relief, a blazing “What if” fantasy story on a shelf of pragmatic autobiographies.  But we all make choices.

How happy are you with yours?

How happy am I with mine?

In the best times, we compare our lives with the worst version of our alternate-universe self.  But in the worst times, we compare ourselves to the best version.  It’s pretty easy on a lonely, stressful day to imagine a version of myself married, likely managing an independent bookstore while writing novels and short stories on the side, maybe even planning on my first kid (second?).  Still in Chicago?  Perhaps.

I don’t know if that’s a happier me.  I don’t know if that’s a realistic me.

I only know the me that abandoned any semblance of a normal life 6 years ago and has been floating on the wind ever since.  From Charlotte to Philly, to the OC, to San Fran, to Chi-town, to Nashvegas, and round and round I go.

A solitary life.  A life other people imagine.

I hear it all the time:  “I would do what you were doing if…”

Money.  Family.  Fear.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard, “I would do what you were doing if I wasn’t madly in love.”

“I would do what you were doing if I hadn’t found my dream job.”

“I would do what you were doing if I weren’t completely satisfied with life.”

How long does mad love last?  When does the sheen fade on a dream job?  Is anyone ever truly satisfied?

I’m asking because I don’t know.

There are certain things all the experience in the world will never teach a person.

I can show you how to explore a new city.  I can teach you how to budget on little to no income.  I can train you how to live with barely any possessions.

But I don’t know how to live a normal life.  That’s somebody else’s lesson plan.

6 years.

(What were you doing 6 years ago?)

And tomorrow: 6 years and a day.

It’s too late to turn back now…