Sunday, January 25, 2009

then, now, and soon

Where I've been. Where I'm at. Where I want to be.

I know where I've been, though sometimes I have a habit of forgetting. I've been on three continents, in at least a dozen countries, 30 or so US states. I've been in the high school drama club, the neighborhood pals detective agency, the "we-wanna-be-innovative" Creative Writing groupies at college, the Sunday school class, the summer camp, the fan convention, the best friend's wedding, the workplace, the closet.

I feel where I am like it's a weight in my lungs, but I also have the undeniable suspicion that, really, I'm seeing this all through (figurative) beer goggles, that what I think of my current situation is tainted by weariness, loneliness, listlessness, boredom, and confusion. Even just a few years ago the world seemed like a gift; it seemed like "magic" could be more than a fictional construct; it seemed like I could be a happy, functioning, "normal" individual. Growing up they seemed like inevitable steps: get A's in high school so you get into a good college; meet the future spouse in college and get married shortly after; work for a while until the 2 of you decide to start a family, then be a stay-at-home Mom (Note: NOT because I'd have to, or because it was expected of me, but because I'd want to stay at home and be with my kids, at least until they went to school). But what if you don't meet that person? (I haven't... yet) And what if a college education doesn't guarantee you a good job? And what if your faith in God, in the world and its mystery, in people as a whole, has faded?

I see myself working at a physically-taxing, mentally-unstimulating, majorly-underpaying job, with a mere handful of true friends and neither the energy nor imagination to engage in the creative projects I used to enjoy. I get spontaneous urges to drive away or fly away... to get the hell out, in other words. I feel like if I stand still too long I'll atrophy to the spot. And that, I guess, leads to the third topic of this evening's discussion: where I'm heading or where I want to be.

Actually, the "or" in that previous statement is deceiving; it implies that I think of those two phrases as being interchangeable. In truth, they are very different. Where I am heading is beyond my knowing; it is the unforeseen events of the future, a concrete thing, the one path I will eventually follow out of the myriads of ever-changing options. But where I want to be? "Not here" isn't a good enough answer, and as I've discovered this past year, "I don't know" pretty much accomplishes nothing. Do I want to be a librarian, or is that just an easy option for a down economy? Do I want to be a teacher, or does that dream now lie dead (Dorothy Parker reference, anyone?)? Do I want to be a filmmaker, an author, an artist? Do I want to write music, or make sculptures, or tap dance? (Yes, probably not, and yes) Do I want to travel, and if so... how will I manage it?

Hypothetical: You are dropped in a parachute in the middle of nowhere in the dark of night. You know the dawn is a long way off and it's too cold to stay in one place; you MUST move. But in which direction? You run the risk of wandering away from civilization and further outward into the unforgiving dark. With all 360 degrees of paths to choose from, you're lost. You must take a step, so how do you choose where to go?

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