Night Drives

Sometimes you can’t find the words. You sit in them. They swirl in you. But you can’t grasp them. This feeling…it swirls in me. It settles and unsettles. It twists and turns, trying to find its place. Not sadness, not anger. Maybe a madness trying to get out. Trying to take over. Trying to consume. To envelop. I am tired of fighting.

But without it, who would I be?

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Chapter 3

At first, moving to California felt like the ground had been ripped out from beneath me. There isn’t a word I could choose to describe what it felt like waking up the morning of August 5th, 2017. Most of the 5 hour drive from Phoenix to San Diego was spent biting my nails and anxiously trying to figure out which song I should play, but nothing could ease the anticipation of entering a city I’ve never been to before knowing there was no turning back. This was it. I had committed before even seeing the place. I barely even knew where it was on the map. When I arrived, though, it was beautiful. Just like I’d imagined.
I remember sitting in my car for the first few days crying, wondering if I should pay another $25 for parking or drive around aimlessly. The answer was almost always found in feeding myself. Actually, that’s how I started to make progress. After the crying, I took myself out to lunch. I sat down on a stool near the window and applied to jobs for hours. Eventually I heard back, and that’s how I made it to where I am now. A routine, as much as I hate the word.
I spent the next few weeks buying furniture, finding affordable parking, fixing my car, taking the train, hiking, reading books, and making friends. I went to my first Padres game and swam in the freezing Pacific ocean. I got drunk at the bars downtown and walked home to my apartment.  I even got a tattoo and stripped off my bathing suit at the nude beach. I did these things, and San Diego started to feel like the right choice.
I realized that this is what you try to do. When you feel lost, you ground yourself. When you feel unsure, you find a reason. You can even make one up. I spent so many of my first few weeks wondering what I was doing and why I was here. I brought myself here, so why am I upset? I made this choice, so why am I questioning it? The thing is, things are never exactly as we imagine them. I didn’t expect an easy, peaceful move across the country to a place I’d never even visited before. I didn’t expect things to magically “work out” in the way everyone imagines it’ll be. But I did, however, expect to feel at home right away. And looking back at my life I understand why I had that expectation. It’s what I’ve been looking for all my life. I think it’s why I came here. And so what if that doesn’t make sense to anyone else?
Now, I find myself in a cycle of progress. Some days are great. Some days I wake up before sunrise, make myself coffee, do a quick yoga flow, listen to music, drive myself to work, eat, run, and go to bed content and fulfilled. Other days I wake up exhausted, drained, depressed and questioning things I never thought I’d question. It’s a process, but it’s one that I’m proud of. I’m sick of thinking, “someday I’ll get there” because someday is now. Don’t look forward to what is ahead. This moment is what the “looking forward” previously was. I will embrace every part of it.

Thoughts During Shavasana

It’s easy and even habitual to fall into those low moments. Sometimes they last for a few days. Sometimes a few weeks. Sometimes a few months. We think that these moments define us. We think that it will always be this way, even when the feelings let up for a while. Even when it passes, it lingers below. It waits to surface. For me, I’ve realized that it surfaces on its own terms. Whenever it feels like it. It engulfs me and sits on top of my chest and fogs up my brain until I can’t see 5 feet ahead. “Ahead” is too heavy to think about. I’m too tired to think. To be.

And I take a moment to breathe. I take a moment to set an intention. Grounding, gratitude, balance, stability. Something to focus on. I realize that nothing actually matters. Our existence is enough in itself. Yes, I may be anxious for no reason. I may not want to move or speak or get myself out of bed. By taking a minute to zoom out, I regain an understanding of existence in itself. Maybe this isn’t a way out, but a way in to what really matters.

October 15, 2017

It doesn’t matter where we are or who we’re with or what’s happening. Our true selves are behind the mask of the reality we see. We think this reality is it. We think it’s what shapes us. What dictates our future. What our past consists of. This is not real. Things happen in cycles because we weave in and out of the mindset we’ve worked so hard to create. Let it sink in. This is not reality. We are not stuck here forever. We are not connected to anything. When things are hard, we go through the motions. We ride out the wave. It’s time to jump off the wave and observe. Be aware of the wave, but know that this is not all there is to it. We can observe our thoughts and what is happening around us. The mere act of observing sets us back into the grounding realization that there needs to be an observer behind the observation itself. That is where truth lies. We are immortal. None of this is permanent.

Shadows

It’s that feeling that hits you mid-laughter.

It’s the quiet place in your soul that nobody has seen.

It’s the self-doubt; the “I will never be good enough”.

It’s looking out the window of the car.

It’s the hollow feeling in your gut after eating lunch.

It’s the black hole we spiral down into once again.

The hole draws you in. You find comfort here. You know this place well. The familiarity feels like you’ve come home.

When you’re here, you stay. You sit in this hole and let it consume you.

You know that you will only come out when time allows.

Sometimes, you control the time. Other times, the time means nothing.

Sometimes it’s all nothing. Sometimes it’s all everything. Sometimes it’s all too much. Sometimes it’s not enough. We let it wash over. We find release. We realize that it doesn’t get better. We understand that life is full of cycles. Bad, then good, then great, then bad. We punch and cry and scream and blindly grab on to anything that we can. We give in.

But the sun still rises. And we try again.

Brand New

“Every next level of your life will demand a different you.”

The goodbyes, the hellos. The process of letting go while starting anew. Every new minute in your new apartment in your new city spent proving to yourself that you’re meant to be here. Wondering if the proving defeats the entire purpose. Making sense of change.

It’s all a part of life. And what is life without experience? Isn’t experience what makes up a life? Experiences on top of experiences, shaping your reality.

The red tint of my wine glows in the Sunday night city lights. I sit here listening to music from this time, one year ago. It feels like yesterday, but it also feels like a different me. I’ve never been more alone, but I’ve never been more at peace.

Transition

It’s 5:18am on February 1st, 2017, and I’m working the overnight shift at the hospital once again. I have to get vaccinations once I’m off and am dreading coming back tonight for round two. However, things are a bit different this morning. I’ve upgraded from my usual cushioned stool to a full-blown wheelie chair. Dave Matthews Pandora station is wafting over from the doctors’ area. I’m smiling at the nurses who glance my way mid-laughter. I’m drinking ice water.

Today I realized (and partially accepted) how much my life is about to change.

This summer, I’m moving to San Diego. I’ve wanted this for quite some time. I’ve wanted to move out west, see the mountains, the ocean, the sky, the new horizon. I want to experience the freedom of my mid-twenties in a place entirely mine; a place that I chose. A place where I can start this next chapter fresh, with such an open road in front of me. A place where I can freely explore my passions and pursue my career. A place full of new beginnings.

And after 5 years in Tampa I have started to come to terms with eventually leaving. It’s funny how things work this way. I’ve noticed it many times in my life, actually. How things start to fall into place once you’re about to leave. How you finally feel “right” and comfortable where you are and who you are with. Maybe this is the mind playing tricks on you, but maybe this is the universe making sure that you are ready. Right now I don’t feel ready. I don’t feel comfortable leaving those I am closest with; those I consider family. I don’t feel comfortable adjusting from having ten best friends in close proximity to zero. I don’t feel financially secure. I don’t feel mentally stable enough. But that’s life. I’m never going to feel completely ready. I’m never going to be at peace with up and leaving when I finally feel like I’ve found my place here. But life has taught me that only good things come from leaving your comfort zone.

Today in the car I cried numerous times. I cried about change, unrequited feelings, goodbyes, and change. But mostly I cried at the beautiful story I’ve created here. The good and the bad. The love and the heartbreak. The crazy nights and the peaceful ones. The questions I might always have. Tampa, you were good to me. The memories I made here I know I will have for the rest of my life. And as I continue these next months approaching my transition, I will do my best to look ahead with excitement without letting the impending nostalgia dominate my present moments. Letting go is painful, but there is so much good ahead. So many more beautiful moments. So much freedom. All that’s left is to look back and smile.

 

It should not be denied that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations. Absolute freedom. And the road has always led west.