Where I belong

So remember how I said I had two days of being a bawl-bag and then I was fine? A-okay? A juicy peach ripe for the picking? Okay that last one I don’t even know what that means, I just wanted a third thing indicating A-okay-ness.

Well that was before Illinois. I had two days on the road dallying in the West, drinking fine coffee in Sioux Falls, then spending the night at a friends house in Madison where we talked relationships and how bleeding fickle they are, while he plied me with wine and hand cooked vegetables.

And then right about the time I exited Wisconsin, accidentally leaving my favorite insulated water bottle at a Dickey’s in South Dakota and leaving my makeup bag at my friends house in Madison—because God knew my brain was losing functions—I merged into Illinois and began to feel it. Wrong. It all felt very wrong. And I am not even talking the actual breakup from my boyfriend anymore, I am talking about the breakup from Wyoming. This one felt like a huge mistake and like I wanted to call Wyoming and say, I didn’t mean it! I’ve loved you all along! It has always been you and it took leaving to truly know for sure.

With every highway sign that said East and not West, my stomach lurched and my brain begged me to turn around. With every billboard that popped up touting adult superstores and gentlemens clubs because we were nearing the big cities, I felt a queasiness that could not be quelled. With every smokestack puffing fumes along the dismal grey horizon, my soul sunk into a kind of sadness that was entirely matched by my surroundings. It was like Illinois could sardonically point out, hey I’ve got ill in my name, this is natural. (And I mean no disrespect Illinois, I am going through a breakup you see and I feel very melancholy and prone to these bouts of sad punnery).

One of the toll-booth operators along the way asked what part of Wyoming I was from and I explained the Bighorns, not wanting to reveal that I wasn’t actually from Wyoming. He said he was from Laramie and that he owned some land in Wyoming but that he didn’t get there much as his wife liked to vacation in Grand Haven or Florida. I wanted to tell him his wife was an idiot and that she didn’t deserve Wyoming and could I have his land if it wasn’t being put to any use?

By the time I reached my exit for Fowlerville, I was in a state. Boy was I in a state. Underneath the sign for my hometown I was surprised I didn’t see lettering in parentheses (where dreams go to die). I told you I was in a state. Grim was now where I was located. Not Fowlerville, Michigan.

I walked into my house and looked at the walls and my siblings eager to give me hugs and I was kind of quiet and shaky. I sat down at the counter and tried to picture the comfort I was supposed to feel in my childhood home that my mom had decked out to look like a shabby chic lovers dream.

But amidst the cool whites and turquoise antiques I felt nothing but panic. Like a deer who thought he had time to cross the highway into the safety of his forest and then headlights come around the bend and he knows. He just knows he made a mistake in judgement.

I have left places before. Many in fact and each time I have felt a certain kind of acute sadness for leaving people I loved and a place I had grown accustom to, but none like this. None with such a strong urge to get back in my car and turn around immediately. I said it to my sisters as I sat in my old room, that was now occupied by my fourteen year old sister and a slew of stuff that didn’t belong to me.

It wasn’t just that the West is grand and open and full of an untamed beauty that is both bold and inviting, perhaps mirroring my spirit, it was that the West is kind. And not oppressive, because it is vast. And it held me in a way that made me feel like the kind of person I am supposed to be. The kind of person that can flourish because I hiked two hours to the top of a mountain by myself. And that kind of thing bolsters a girl.

I have to go back, I wept into the pillow, mascara staining it in splotches. My sister rubbed my back and said, “then go back.”

I didn’t have a plan at first. I still don’t really have one now, but as I lay on a little carry-away bed on the living room floor of my parents house, having begged my sister to get me one of my mom’s Xanax so I could sleep, I felt in my heart that the West was where I belonged, knowing it more than I ever felt in New York City or Virginia or any other place I’ve roamed. I adored those places sure, but for the entirety of my time in the West I have known it was my home. The home for me. Maybe not my sisters, maybe not anyone else, but it is where I belong.

And if leaving created in me such a vile, hostile, almost allergic reaction then I know what I’ve got to do. I am not saying I am just turning around, though that is very flippant and like me and I probably could wing it. But no. I fear maybe I am getting too old for that.

I am just going to find a way, a better job, a situation in which I can take care of myself and save for land. And my ranch. And my horses. And a barn. And a dog. And then some goats and probably an old Ford pickup, but one thing at a time.

Here is the thing though. I am a very determined person. Especially when I am agonized. And last night I lay there feeling like my entire existence was hurting me. Everything hurt. All of it and I felt overwhelmed to a degree where a Xanax was definitely in order. However, in the cool (admittedly still grey) light of day, I had fiery action pulsing through my veins.

My mom must’ve sensed it, because before I could even tell her how wrong it all was, she said, “you want to go back? Just go back.”

Just like that. Supportive as ever and not for one second believing me to be the idiot I often deem myself to be—one who doesn’t really think big life decisions all the way through and instead relies on her emotional state and then second guesses it anyway.

I couldn’t think about the suckage this morning, instead I focused on action plans combined with thankfulness that being home meant that my mama had a constant pot of black coffee on and would fill my cup (both literally and figuratively) every time I needed it.

So I don’t know what I am doing or how long I will have to do it, but the West is my great love, and if you are foolish enough to leave your great love, just know that if they’re truly great they’ll take you back, forgiving your tiny little misjudgement.

And at any rate, I had the best naysayer before I left the West and if you know me at all, you will know how much I adore naysayers and how much they motivate me. But more on that later. I have to rope you in somehow. See what I did there? Rope you in. Like a cowboy—I don’t feel like saying cowgirl, because I think they’re a little too flashy and fringey for me. So yeah, like a cowboy.

I meant what I said.

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If You’ve Got Worries

I worry constantly. If worrying were a payable endeavor, I would give Bill Gates a run for his money. I don’t enjoy this little facet of my persona. In fact I worry about the long term effects on my health. So then I try and combat the worry with yoga, deep breathing, regular chats with God, and good-vibe mantras, like chill the fuck out, you’ve got this. I recently saw that one on a greeting card which I promptly sent to my best friend who enjoys the F word as much as I do.

Currently I am an almost 29 year old who lives with her parents and babysits for a living. Okay to be fair, I also teach the children writing while I’m there and I freelance for a magazine, but still. I work three days a week and TurboTax has definitely classified me as poor. Okay, fine, they didn’t say it outright, but they ever-so-helpfully hinted at certain tax breaks I can receive for being below the poverty line. I appreciate that TurboTax. Way to have my back.

At any rate, my artsy soul is constantly conflicted with a deep desire to be true to my art and not have my soul ripped out by The Man and then uh, being an actual adult who pays her bills and has health insurance and can afford her penchant for almond butter and fancy coffee but has to have her soul ripped out by The Man, because that’s the way to afford almond butter and bills. It is very disconcerting all this warring back and forth, between soul and The Man.

As any starving (though I never starve, I could never allow that. Not because of prolonging my life reasons, though that’s of course important, but because I genuinely am mad crazy over food) artist would tell you, being a slave to your art is not for the easily discouraged.

Right now, however I am at an impasse. I just regretfully watched a Ted Talk video on why your 30’s are not the new 20’s (I never believed that anyway) but the video made me very uncomfortable. Why haven’t I figured my shit out yet? What is wrong with me? The speaker gives all these examples of 20-somethings making their big life decisions. Getting careers and finding love and paving the way for their 30’s. And I don’t have any of that figured out.

Sure I know I want to be a writer as much as I want my next sip of expensive coffee followed by a bite of chocolate, but making it as a writer who also has a 401K and can eat for good measure… that’s the big times.

My best friend just turned 30 and while I heartily enjoyed picking out a card mocking her last days of youth and leaving her messages reminding her that she’s old, it was all in good fun and truthfully I envy her. She pointed out to me that a whole bunch of her major life decisions were made in her 20’s and how great that was (the speaker in the Ted Talk points this out as well). She went to school, settled on a career, got a job in that career field, found her husband, bought a house, brought home a dog. By society’s standards and turning 30 standards, she’s fucking killin’ it.

And there’s me who has one year and a handful of months left in my 20’s to make some semblance of it count and all I can do is worry. Here in no particular order are all my worries right now:

Why don’t magazines want to hire me? Is it because I’m sort of chubby? Wait, they can’t profile like that. Don’t be absurd. But maybe… Or worse is it because I’m untalented? No. Take that one back. I’d rather be sort of chubby and know it, rather than believe myself to lack any real talent.
Am I unlovable? Also, is it the sort of chubby thing?
Seriously when will I be gainfully employed by someone who doesn’t make me memorize the new french fry menu, or isn’t paying me under the table? (We’ll talk about that next year TurboTax).
Why can’t I finish my blasted book already?
Will I even write a bestseller? Of course I will. Don’t be an idiot.
Am I an idiot? Could be… the other day I was mildly unclear on the rules of communism and had to look it up on Wikipedia.
Why do other almost 29 year olds have pensions, houses, dogs and love lives, or have already invented a new billion dollar website? Where is my motivation? Where is my drive? Where is my love life?
It’d probably be easier if I was a singer. Then I could just go on the The Voice and…
Wait how would life be any easier if I was a struggling singer instead of a struggling writer? I don’t know, but it might be. At least they have open mic nights.
Maybe I should start reading my writing aloud on street corners. Could I be discovered in that way?
Why hasn’t anyone discovered me yet?
Seriously have I been negligent in the love department? Was I supposed to set my intentions and look for my mate? But I always hear it happens when you’re not looking. Should I be looking or not looking? Coy or aggressive? Coy is better right? Always be coy. Except I am not coy. I am super obvious and out there. Dammit! Why didn’t God make me coy?! All the coy girls are the ones finding their life partner. Instead I am failing at my 20’s.
Do I eat too much peanut butter? It has protein, but it’s also fatty.
Where do people find cowboys? I mean, more appropriately, where are women finding cowboys who are interested in marrying them? Why haven’t I landed a cowboy and how come life is so unfair? I have so much cellulite and no cowboy. I mean shouldn’t there be a cellulite cowboy trade-off? It only seems right. I did my time with the cellulite now I should be rewarded with a man who rides horses and then rides… the rails you pervert. Gosh, any good cowboy obviously has to take the train sometimes for business.

Ughhhh. There are so many more worries. I am worried I’ve forgotten some of the best ones. Sometimes I find myself utterly at peace and content and I suddenly start, like when you’re falling asleep and think you’re falling out of bed. I think, what were you just worrying about ten minutes ago… I can’t recall, so I backtrack, oh thank God, there you are worry, finances, you were worrying about finances. Oh that one’s a doozy, we could be here all day with this one. Alright, let’s get started.

Honestly writing this post in some ways has inflamed my anxiety to the point where I am having fantasies of dancing Xanax, but in others I realize how truly absurd most of my worries are. Also the fiery optimist in me is seriously chagrined by all this worrisome talk. Hence why this post got written. She was not having any of it and every time worrisome me mused to the universe at large that maybe it’s impossible for someone to love me, really love me as in also want to take off my clothes at some point and acknowledge my cellulite while still maintaining that love, she battled back with ferocity saying, of course it’s possible you ninny! You are fully worthy of love, and not just love but great love, cellulite and all! And any cowboy worth his beard and boots would be lucky to have you. Also you’ll get a job and sell your book.

She’s nice, the fiery optimist. I ought to talk to her more often and maybe have her stronghold the worrier and lock her up in a closet under a staircase, Harry Potter style. Yeah, that’ll shut her up. Anyway I have a homemade almond peanut butter cup with my name on it. And nothing says drowning my worries like chocolate and almond butter, so I’m going to get to that. Besides. I am only an almost 29 year old. I have one full year and some odd months to get my 20’s right. I am not worried… Ish.