Life is a journey… | the ramblings and writings of a guy who prefers to write on paper, but can't live without the internet…

Contemplating Goodbyes…

I’m sitting here this morning in the cafe area of my hotel.  I am over 1,000 miles from the place I currently call home.  I am lonesome and I miss my family and friends.

For many years I’ve talked about it, daydreaming about places I’d love to move and what it would be like to live somewhere besides the place I’ve known for almost my entire life.  But this is the year I have decided I will be moving away from Memphis, TN.  I’ve given myself that charge, knowing that if I don’t make it out then I need to stop the constant daydreaming.  “Nut up or shut up!”  This isn’t a negative at all, but just a realization that I spend too much time thinking about doing things and a lack of time actually doing them.  I’m not saying that I will give up on the idea, but I will just wait for the opportunities and stop wasting time on something I am not going to try to make happen.

Somewhere around 19 years ago, I was given an amazing piece of advice, “Don’t “run away” from home because you hate it, because if you do that without working on the problems you have there, then you are doomed to take them with you wherever you go.”  My mother is a wonderful, intelligent and insightful woman who always seemed to know what I needed to hear.  Even when I really couldn’t give a fuck less.  That piece of advice stuck with me all this time, momma.  And I think I finally understand what you were trying to say.

You see, the baggage you accumulate from years of frustration without action is invisible.  You may never see it yourself and it might take years to show up when you attempt to move on, hiding until you finally feel comfortable somewhere new.  Then you’re faced with the same tired boredom and disdain for your new home as you were with your old home.  You’re stuck with the same bad habits and behaviors which caused you to hate where you were as you slowly grow to hate where you are.  The circle completes and you start all over again becoming miserable with your life.  The baggage I took when I moved out of the house I grew up in didn’t show up for many years.  Mom was right.  I ended up hating where I was and the people I was with.  It caused stress in my relationship and the interactions with the rest of the people I lived with.  Short short version, I was miserable again.  Just like momma said I would be.  Dammit she was right after all!  Who knew?

Cut to around nine or ten years after I moved out and I slowly began to realize that I was the one who needed help.  The rest of the people around me may also be screwed up, but I started to understand that I could only fix me.  I woke up one day and knew things weren’t right in my world.  Things weren’t ok and I wasn’t happy.  Eventually, the guy I had been dating since I moved out of my mothers house asked me if I was ok.  I couldn’t lie about it any longer.  “No,” I told him, “I’m not ok.”  That prompted a conversation which eventually led to our breakup.  During that period, all I knew was that I wasn’t happy.  One day he told me that he had something to say to me and it wasn’t being said from a mean place and he didn’t want it to hurt me.  What he told me was pointed, direct and so spot on that I have never felt anything but gratitude for the advice.  “You’re useless to me,” he started tentatively wanting to spare me from the shock.  That got my attention and I sat still waiting for what he would say next.  “You can’t be present and useful to anyone else if you aren’t present and useful to yourself.”    It is one of the most amazing pieces of advice I’d ever heard, and has proven itself true time and time again.  He was right, of course.  At the time I was a pretty useless human being.  I worked, ate, slept and complained.  Maybe not all the time and not always out loud, but my life was boring, routine and completely lacking in a lot of ways.  I didn’t know who I was and if I hadn’t admitted that I wasn’t ok, there’s a rather decent chance that the two of us would have been together a lot longer.  I would have been miserable and honestly he likely would have been too. After a few months I bought my own home and moved out.

Turns out it was one of the best things I could have done.  I had a place that was mine, my walls, my floors, my yard.  I painted each room a different color, much to my mothers  initial consternation.  I put a large amount of my own energies into my house, it was my sanctuary.  It was a place of healing for me to come to terms with myself, to figure out who I was and how to be my own best friend.  I made sure that it was always a welcoming place for people to be, where they could find peace and safety from the world.  Over the years my home sheltered friends who needed a place to go and get away, to be safe and loved.  In a way, it is one of the things that I am most proud of in my adult life.  My home was not only my shelter, it gave me the ability to offer the precious gift of acceptance, love and comfort to those around me.  And with very rare exception, no angry, hurtful or harmful words have been spoken inside its multi-colored walls.  My house is my anchor in more ways than I can count.  It truly is the place where I started to figure out who I am.  It’s only been seven years, but so many things have happened and so many friends have been celebrated and comforted.  It is a blessing that I never expected.

But today, I sit thousands of miles away from her.  The anchor line is stretched thin inside my heart as I realize just how much I miss my friends.  My house is important, but you can make a sanctuary anywhere, your anchor can be lifted and moved.  Yet, this morning I am battling tears over the thoughts of all of the people who I won’t be able to see on a daily basis.  The people who I miss even when it has only been a day since I last saw them.  The hugs that make me smile and happy on even the worst of days.  The wordless moments between the closest of friends where they send you warmth, love and support as they work along side you and allow you to cry when you need to.  The coffee, breakfast, yogurt, movie and beer-wings-trivia dates that will be so much fewer and farther between.  I know that I can and will find a family of friends wherever I go.  The top places on my list of destinations are already close to some of my favorite people in the world, so there won’t be an immediate lack of connection in the place where I land.  But at what loss?  How much am I going to lose?  I know that there is so much potential for growth and so many things I will gain.  I am only away for a short term project with work.  And even though I’ve only been away for two weeks, I already miss my friends.  I talked to my mom last night and could hear how much she already hurts at the idea of me moving and how much she already seems to miss me.  The mention of being able to spend time with her when I come home for my nieces wedding made her voice lift a little.  For a southern mommas boy, that hurts more than I can possibly explain.  In some ways it almost makes it impossible to consider leaving.

But I know that it is time.  I know that Memphis has given me almost everything that it can right now.  All of the beauty I have found I have celebrated with photography.  I’ve met countless people who have changed my life for the better, people who have left an indelible mark on my life.  There are more stories to be told than I can possibly remember and thousands of moments to cherish.  Almost a lifetime, in a way.

This is my comfort right now.  Such a wonderful group of people who have helped me to become the person that I am will continue to wish me well as they send me off towards a new journey.  I do have the strength to make such a journey and the will to make it happen.  And I know that my friends and family will be excited for me to go somewhere new and will support me in every way possible while we reminisce and make our way toward the eventual goodbye…

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