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.
(What were you doing 6 years ago?)
And tomorrow: 6 years and a day.
It’s too late to turn back now…