Oh happy day when I found that Dixie Chicks CD in Goodwill three weeks ago. Their cover of Landslide has been keeping me company on my various travels. The past three weekends, I’ve been out in Charlotte, Oklahoma, and Charleston. After all this driving, flying, and scenery (and a whole lot of Dixie Chicks) I just need to say: America is fantastic. Driving down a highway, going from fall colors to palm trees in 3 hours, and yesterday, seeing dolphins out in the Charleston harbor. Watching the sun set over a pasture in Cherokee country one weekend and over the ocean the next. And a month or so ago, wandering silently among Redwoods, bumping up a hill in a trolley, and an exhilarating rush on top of Mount Diablo, letting my legs dangle 5,000 feet above the valley below. I’ve seen a lot of the home of the free in the past two months, and I’m pretty enthralled by my country as of late.
But with all that traveling, and the euphoria of new smells and places and a nice, slow, North Carolina fall, it’s just been…hard. Of course. Why would it not be. But the changing stuff. It is hard. I want to think it’s easy, but it never is. I quit the job. It’s taken me a while to be able to say that without feeling like apologizing. My back hurt too much there. I feel like a failure of course. And now I’m living the life of some 21-year-old retiree, it feels like. I’m watching reruns and crocheting, you know? Juxtaposed against the adventures, the quitting has caused some cognitive dissonance. And naturally, because I’m me, I’ve already started thinking: damn, time to go back to New York. I even surprised myself by applying to something there a few weeks before I’m allowing myself to freak out (which, if you want to mark your calendars, is November).
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life? Mmm. Stevie Nicks. You get me, babe. And just like you: I don’t know.
I wish life were just the looking at the dolphins, sitting on top of the mountains moments. With all the other stuff edited out. But I also know that it’s the in between places that I grow. The dolphins are a lucky bonus. Walking around the redwoods made me reverent, but it’s what I do with that reverence, after the redwoods, that will create something meaningful, something that will be beautiful and helpful.
All this traveling stuff is also lonely. Isolating. A lot of time alone with thoughts that are genuinely not that interesting. Listening to Dixie Chicks. Singing VERY LOUDLY. Thinking while I’m driving: I really do need to marry a chiropractor so that I can get some sweet shoulder massages on road trips. All this doing stuff alone, it’s making me realize again and again how out of touch I am with how to live in community — the grittiness but also beauty of letting other people love me. Through new relationships, I see I’m just really, really bad at it. But I already talked about that before.
Highways. Plane rides. Sitting at a coffeeshop, emailing nice things to people whose business cards I have acquired. Staring down a short story that Nathan tells me is worth saving, and knowing there is hard work ahead. Loving people for real, in what feels like a totally new way. I have been very afraid of changing. But I want to handle the season I’m in. And I’ll let you know as soon as I figure out how to do that.