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