possibly maybe

It’s raining here.

Hold on. Just typing that makes me want to put on some Seventeen Seconds-era Cure and pour a tall stein of red wine.

Mmm. That’s the stuff.

I don’t want to beat a dead topic, but any rain around this time of year immediately takes me back seven years. I may have, oh, mentioned before that I moved back to California at the beginning of 2005.

I can’t underscore enough how weird things were during this time. I mean, my 2003 and all of 2004 were pretty miserable on balance, but during a particularly epic span of three weeks leading into 2005, I managed to:

  • Get into a protracted argument with my estranged ex that involved driving to Michigan in a snowstorm to give him back a painting and then turning around when I got there and taking the painting back with me
  • Quit my job packing and shipping parts for an airplane manufacturer
  • Crash into another car on the freeway while driving to my very last day of work

I had no money. The jobs I’d held since college had nothing to do with my actual degree. I had no idea what I was doing in my life. My folks thought it unwise for me to move to California while unemployed but restrainedly told me You’re An Adult And You Can Make Your Own Decisions, which is parentspeak for “We give up, dumbass. Either you’ll figure this one out on your own or they’ll figure it out for you in jail.”

Kidding! I’m sure they didn’t think I’d end up in jail. Probably just community service.

And so at 5:30 in the morning on January 6, 2005, I found myself standing in line to board a plane to the golden coast when I dropped my drivers’ license through the teeny crack between the jetway and the plane. My mental rope, which had been slowly fraying over the previous months, snapped. Even though they found my license and gave it back before the plane took off I proceeded to spend half of the flight furiously crying.

An auspicious start.

I made it to California without setting anything on fire or causing anyone to punch me in the face. Unable to stand on my own two feet, I had talked myself into sleeping on a cot in my mother’s friend’s studio apartment while I tried to get myself sorted. She picked me up from the airport in Long Beach and drove me up to Santa Barbara. I watched the palm trees fly past the windows, enchanted. That night, from the studio, I watched the sunlight drain from the mountains while listening to the faint sounds of a high school marching band practice a half mile away.

When I woke up the next morning, it was raining. It rained that whole day. And the next. And the next. Nonstop. Absolutely pouring, spitting rain. On the third day, the mountains gave. Landslides wiped out houses and crumbled roads.

Welcome back to California! We missed you. Have some destruction!

Then something weird happened: my luck turned. Just like that. Relentless months of bad breaks had seemingly been washed away in the deluge. The day after the landslides, I got asked out on my first date since college. Three weeks later I landed a real job with benefits. A few weeks after that I flew back to Virginia to go to court and drove my car back. I got my own room in a house. I fell into a deliriously unwise crush on an ex-drug-dealing Jewish Marine. I went to shows by myself. I made friends. I met the beau. None of which was completely free of issues and worry, of course. But it was the first time I could remember experiencing such highs, and they were just as bone-shakingly intense as the lows — making everything about life that much sweeter and thrilling.

And now, as I turn that fragment of the past over in my mind in my quiet house on a rainy night, I can’t believe my life was ever that dramatic.

I think drama comes with youth, yeah. And stability comes with maturity, and long-term relationships. Generally speaking, that is.

It’s been years since life last turned me upside down and shook out my pockets. Which is fortunate indeed — I’m not looking to invite trouble into my house, sit it down in a comfortable chair, and fix it a drink. But sometimes, I guess, I get nostalgic for a time in my life when I had no idea what was coming next.

Or maybe more accurately, I am just nostalgic for that absolute shot of ecstasy that can only be experienced after you’ve finally climbed a colossal mountain from the valley floor and you’re standing at the rim, head thrown back, hair in your eyes, laughing and shouting at the wind and the epic view spread before you.

Because since then, my life has been lived on mesas and plains.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing bad about a plain. I like being able to keep watch on the horizon, myself.

But damn, dude. Sometimes I miss intensity. And I’m compelled to lamely make up for it by writing horrifically moody reflections about my past in the middle of a rainy night. While cuddling a bottle of red. Shh, baby. It’s going to be fine. We’re still interesting and exciting people, I promise.

I like my sturdy routine. I like my quiet spaces. Yet I don’t want to be someone who just rolls over and goes on choosing the flat, straight path, because it’s the least challenging. Yet I’m at an age where life experiences don’t just pound on the door of my house and demand to be let in. I have to go actively seek them out. Which means… doing something. Which means forcing my hand. Which means instigating shit instead of just dealing with the shit shoveled my way.

Which is scary. Period.

Tell me about your beautiful, dramatic lives. Do you ever worry about being overtaken by ennui and complacency? And doesn’t this entire post just have #firstworldproblems written all over it?

Image credit: dyingbeautystock

22 Responses to “possibly maybe”

  1. Well, if you want to instigate some pretty major valleys and mountains, I hear having a kid is pretty good for totally ripping up your life…

  2. So, is this your way of telling us you are pregnant?

    • Wait, what? NO. Jesus. The level of sheer self-absorption in this post doesn’t scream “not ready for a baby?” loudly enough, eh?

  3. hahaha! Pregnant was the furthest thing from my mind.

    Boy, am I in this rut right now. Now that I don’t have wedding to think about, I have spent 8 weeks pondering my career and my life and remembering times when I was excited by it rather than comfortable in it. I want to do something outrageous, but I also like staying at home on the couch. It’s an odd place to be in, that’s for sure.

  4. I get you, Lyn! My bipolar lows and highs have been medicated away and things are kinda dull and boring now. That intensity made things difficult, yes, but more interesting. Before, the hypomania would send me off on new challenges and adventures. Now I have to actively seek them out myself, which is, as you say, quite daunting.

  5. “…when I dropped my drivers’ license through the teeny crack between the jetway and the plane.”

    So…is it weird that every time I fly, when I have to pause right there by that crack I worry about dropping my stuff down it? And now that I know it IS actually possible, I am sure I will think of you every time I fly and find myself staring down at that crack.

    On a more relevant note, I really enjoyed this post and do remember my super-intense-anything-could-happen-and-I-Could-Move-Anywhere years fondly. But I am really glad to be where I am now because only since getting married have I had some deeper sense of stability and the sense of putting down long-term roots in a place. I guess it is still all pretty new since I only moved here about 2.5 years ago, and I feel I have only begun building my life here, since I just started working and all this past fall (due to immigration, etc.) But I have also been working on a long-term theatre project that now has a quickly approaching deadline, and maybe the stress of that keeps things from getting too stale? :)

  6. I’m in the same place, but feel completely differently about it.

    For the exact same reasons you feel like you’re on a plain, I feel like I’m on top of a mountain. God that sounds lame.

    I feel like, because my life in general is pretty solid (touch wood), I could paraglide off the mountain and do anything I like, knowing everything will be okay no matter what I do. Just knowing that is enough for me at the moment. After the wedding, we talked about packing up and travelling through Europe for 6 months, but decided against it.

  7. I imagine it does get like this. But I’ve been riding such waves for so long now that getting a few breaks in a row is life changing and in a really positive way.

    I’m frightened by my own intensity and I am sure I frighten other people. But I’m sure the other side of the fence and being a grown up can be scary too.

  8. This is weird- my first experience in CA was January of 2005 as well. I came out here on my own for a month to do an internship and had some of the largest learning experiences of my life that month. It shaped so much of my future and I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t done it. And I remember the rain so distinctly….I think of it whenever we get gloomy skies.

    Needless to say, I totally love this post. I wonder if I took things more dramatically in my youth, or if I just wasn’t prepared for large life changes like I am these days? I feel like the big things that are happening to me (being 2 months away from having a baby, for instance) I am taking alarmingly calmly and in stride. I guess it does say something about growing up and getting more mature?

    • Hi, fellow Californian! How awesome that we came here at the same time…

      I think having big life things settled makes it easier to handle big changes (like babies, eep!), too. When we’re younger we’re like pinballs, hitting everything wildly. We don’t really know where we’re going to end up, and the not knowing can be a difficult, dramatic thing to untangle.

  9. Man. What I wouldn’t give to live life on mesas and plains, even for a few weeks. I am quite exhausted from the constant upside-down shaking of my pockets. I don’t even care how old that makes me sound.

  10. Should I be concerned that my life’s goal is to be overtaken by ennui and complacency? I mean, I totally should be concerned about that, right? (And I absolutely mean that in the ‘I’m a really horrible, lazy person’ and not in the judgmental, ‘I think this is a #firstworldproblem post’).

    #Sigh at the fact that I’m probably more than 3/4 of the way there…

  11. Lyn,

    Happy 7 years in CA Anniversary! Today is my 7 year anniversary of landing in Australia.

    I was 20 and working in a surf shop in Huntington Beach, had just been dumped by my first serious boyfriend, living with my parents, and didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I could come to Aus and have 6 months to renew myself and put a break between me and my old life.

    The day I landed, I met my now fiance. After being together 3 months, I decided I’d do the full year at university here. At the end of the year, he came to California to see where I was from. I went back to Aus and did my full degree there. The teaching degree ended up being a big mistake and not really what I want to do in life, but following him back here was the best decision of my life.

    I get what you are saying about missing the drama and the excitement that comes with the big ups and big lows- I came to Aus to make my world bigger, now that I’ve been here for 7 years it’s less an adventure and more just…life.

    Although, we do have some big things to look forward to this year, though: we’re either getting a puppy or I’m getting a new job (can’t get the puppy if I get the job though as it means commuting to Sydney each day and being gone for 12+ hours), the wedding in CA in September, then next year we are going to South Africa to visit my sister (she studies great white sharks!) and then time to crap out some kids and then hopefully Steve will be ready to move to CA after we have taken advantage of the free healthcare system here.

    By the way, after arriving at a really shitty hotel here on the first day, I went out to find some food and got stuck in an epic downpour. I called my Mom then and there and told her Australia sucks and I was going to come home as soon as I could. Five hours later I met Steve and everything changed. It’s raining here again, today, too!

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