Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thoughts on leaving

When I left home at 18, I knew I would blow through my 20s like a surprise Christmas bonus. And I did.

What I didn’t expect was to go hurling into my 30s, barely tapping the brakes at 35, and arriving here, at age 37, on the cusp of arguably one of the biggest risks of my life.

And that is saying something.

I’m a woman who’s danced drunk and barefoot on three continents (and in most major cities), lived in Europe, missed the last train home, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on a whim because I'd always wanted to go to Africa. I’ve zip lined in Costa Rica during a thunderstorm so heavy it felt as though the rain drops would peel my flesh right off the bone. I drank wine sitting more naked than not in a hot spring in the shadow of an active volcano – bright orange lava spraying into the midnight sky. I've covered press conferences at the White House, engaged in hand to hand combat with an ABC cameraman, and gone out with (seemingly) all the wrong men.

Recently, a friend gave me shit for staying in on a Saturday night to make a big pot of lentil soup. Yeah, I thought then, talk to me after you’ve found yourself headed west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, driving a stranger's Jeep, backpack in the trunk, asking some guy you only know as Kevin, "So, where to?"

I've earned the right to be boring.

But here I am taking another gulp, another leap, when I really don’t have the stomach for it anymore. If you ask me now what I want, what I really, really want, I would say that I want to live in a small house near the beach, with a nice guy who likes to grill out and have friends over on Sundays. I would consider that success.

But right now that life does not exist. And the opportunity that does exist is to study and teach creative writing at George Mason University near Washington, D.C.

When I tell people the news, they are happy for me. And I realize I should be happy too. That I am a real asshole for not being happy. My friend Betsy – a much greater talent than I will ever be – said “Kelly, you do realize you have to go. You have to go so I can go. Because I can’t go. So go and tell me everything.” Of course, the reason Betsy can’t go is because she’s living in a beachside condo in Miami with the sexiest man alive, working on the world’s best yet-to-be published book that is going to blow your freaking mind. So, don’t cry for her, Argentina.

And I will go. Am going. At the end of July. And I know it is the right thing to do. It’s just that I feel old and tired and done with new. I didn’t reserve any energy – any patience for change – for this age. I used it all up – thinking I would have slipped into some sort of stability by now. (My friend Brandon says “You know, Kell, stability isn’t really your thing.” But that doesn’t mean I don’t keep hoping.)

Oh, I know it will be fine. Everything, I’ve learned, is eventually fine. I will find a new home. I will make new friends. I will find favorite bars and restaurants and get a new library card. But I’ve done this 100 times before, and it doesn’t feel exciting this time.

I’m tired, ya’ll.

Plus, I’ve never been as happy as I’ve been in SoFla. I have a golden set of friends that are my angels and my true loves – smart, gentle, kind, funny women who, upon seeing a young, male fashion victim wearing a fedora at a house party, will go out into the hallway for a drunken, giggly rendition of “One” from A Chorus Line -- complete with high kicks. They are the reason I have felt loved and safe and home here. I don't know what I ever did to deserve them.

For several weeks after getting the offer from George Mason, I didn’t believe I’d actually take it. I made no move to, well, move. A few weeks ago, my friend Lisa asked “Are you going? Because you don’t act like you are going.”

At that point, I had made a list of pros and cons. And my only reason for not going was that I just didn’t want to. I liked my life, I decided. I love my farmer’s market, the beach and the library. I love that the owner of my favorite restaurant in Delray thinks we knew each other in past life.

I saw no reason for a new life.

Then one morning I woke up and realized – as sudden as sudden can be – that I had to go – that staying in my comfy little nest was not an option. Because nests really don’t take you anywhere -- they are merely a place where one prepares to fly. (Even old birds, like me.)

I realized how fortuitous it is to get another shot at the brass ring in this stage of the game – and that if I rallied I could still reach for it.

Stability, you elusive bitch, will just have to wait.

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Blogger Brando said...

I think it's the adventures and the changes that make it interesting, and in that sense this is a great and natural step for you. And a lot of us in DC looking forward to your arrival!

6/28/10, 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I love your blog, Kelly. Your incredibly talented and those kids at George Mason don't know how lucky they're about to be. ... Good luck on the move and congratulations on finding the energy to go. Change is tough but (I'm finding) good. If you want to escape to Charlottesville (and visit the surrounding wineries!) between August and May, I'll be there.

7/10/10, 5:55 PM  

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