Saturday, February 23, 2008

Taking the long way around

I've been giving a lot of thought lately as to why I'm so hellbent on getting out of this city when I have so much here. This is the first place in my life where I've ever truly felt like I was at home; where I've had a whole extended family I know I can always count on, no matter what's going on in my life or theirs; where I feel like I know the city so completely, inside and out and all around that I feel totally comfortable going pretty much anywhere or seeking out anything; it's a place where I just know people: I can go pretty much anywhere and run into someone I know at least very peripherally, and if I ever need anything, someone, somewhere, knows someone that can help.

It's a weird feeling to be so discontented when you have all of that, and it certainly makes one question what's happening internally when you can look around and say, "I have pretty much everything I've ever wanted, so now that that's accomplished, off I go to somewhere weird and foreign and far away where I'll have to start all over." Why would a person do that to themselves?

And then I realized that maybe all those things are the problem. There are no surprises left anymore. I'm 30 years old and I still want surprises and adventure. Is that so wrong? When I was a teenager and in my early 20's, I promised myself I would never live anywhere for more than 2 years. Two years, and then I would move on to someplace new. I thought by now I'd have lived in New York, and Los Angeles, and maybe Miami or Seattle, and possibly even London or Florence. I honestly believed this. I wouldn't trade any of what I've experienced in my 9 years in Austin for any of that, and I don't regret a single decision, but though it's tempered a bit, that thirst for new places, faces and things is still very much alive inside me.

All I that I really fear regretting at this point is regret. I don't want to be 50 or 60, with a secure job, and maybe a family, and look back and regret not doing anything. Sometimes I fall flat on my face, and sometimes I have serious reconsiderations (okay, maybe some regrets) about things that I've done or experienced, and I know there will be more in the future, and I know leaving this amazing city and my friends will hurt like hell, but I almost physically can't not do it at this point. It's a feeling of stagnation, I guess, and a feeling that I've used this town up for everything I can. I wish I could take everyone I love with me someplace new, but even that would slightly defeat the purpose. I already regret that I may miss momentous events in my friends' lives, and that scares me a lot. But I have to live for me, and I have to create my own momentous events.

When I was younger, a lot of my wanderlust, I think, was a feeling of needing to run away from things. Luckily, now, I feel more like I'm running to something. Towards my future, towards my metaphoric fortune. I think if I'd lived 400 years ago I would have been an explorer. Or maybe I would have been too much of a pussy, I don't know. (But there were those boats full of men out on the ocean for months at a time....) It's both cliched and true that to say no matter where you go, there you are, and that you no matter where you go, you still have to take yourself with you.

Ironically, I think one reason this lust in me has resurfaced so strongly lately is because I think I make a pretty good exploratory partner for myself these days. I didn't used to think that. The biggest difference between now and then (my early 20's) is that then I was looking for myself, looking for the person or the place that was going to save me, or take care of me, or fulfill me. Now I have a much more firm understanding of who I am, and what I want, and what I'm all about, and now I'm seeking a way to best reach my own potential. As opposed to looking for what my potential is.

It's a big difference. I've been told so much in the past that I'm cynical, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even in my darkest days, I am filled with so much optimism and hope, I have it to spare. I get pessimisstic, yes, but that's not the same thing as cynical. And it never lasts, no matter how much I try to make it stick around.

I know my future is somewhere, wrapped up in my present and my past. But to get there I have to keep moving. And maybe I don't do things in a way that makes sense to anyone besides me, but I always get where I'm going. Or end up where I never thought I would, but I'm glad I did.

Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found

Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

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