Early last week, I couldn't sleep. I laid in bed and my mind spun 'round and 'round, and I suddenly thought, "I want to go home." Just for kicks, I checked flight prices. And what do you know? You can accomplish a lot by being willing to get up at the A-crack of dawn to fly home, and by asking your boss to take a couple days off, etc. And so, I went home!
And it was wonderful. I saw my family, visited some of my very best friends, watched TV on my parents' couch (who knew House Hunters could be so addictive?), laid in a hammock, sat in a hot tub, and just generally bopped around Gilbert (aka my hometown). It all added up to the perfect opportunity to clear my muddled little head.
And I think I unmuddled some of that muddle.
My first day in AZ, while driving to my nephew's basketball game, I looked all around me at the farm fields and flat land that goes on and on in all directions, and I thought, "I wish this had been enough for me." I had a moment where I just wished my wants/needs were a little more simple, that I could have just found a career and/or a husband and settled down close to my family in a place where everything feels familiar and almost nothing is surprising and life.just.moves.slow.
One of the best parts about being home was being around people that know me, love me and need me.
Don't get me wrong, California has been very welcoming, but it's hard to compare to several years of relationships, and memories that are leaking out of every crevice and seam in the Phoenix valley. Last year, I dated a guy who I loved quite a bit. And when we broke up, one of the reasons (among other things), was that he told me, "You don't need me." That caught me off guard, and after I thought it over, I decided he was right -- because need and love aren't the same thing for me. And if he needed someone to need him, to be less independent than I am, then I couldn't give that to him. I did love him, but I didn't need him.
But I realized this weekend that I was wrong about something: I do need people.
And I do want to be needed. And if I could rewind back to that relationship, I don't know that I'd undo the breakup, but I do think I'd make sure to tell that boy that I did need him, even if I didn't know it at the time. I think something about starting a whole new life last year when I moved to California made me realize how much I did need the people around me in AZ, and how much security it gave me to feel like they needed me too. And, given time, I'll have more of that in California too. But there you go...I, Katie/katilda, chronically independent life warrior, NEED people. And I need to be needed. It might not sound like a big realization to some of you, but it has been for me.
Even as of last night, I wasn't totally sure I was ready to come back to California. I didn't want to move back to AZ permanently or anything, but I wasn't sure I had it in me to jump back into my life today. Back into sorting out my career, back into wrapping my head around whatever it is that my heart/dating life/dating sabbatical/I-don't-know is doing right now, back into the grit of tough-it-out-on-your-own-you-got-this-come-on-now-keep-it-together. I texted a dear friend last night and told her I felt like an empty well, and that I didn't have an ounce of me left to give to any of it. And that I just wish that life would throw me a bone....in fact, that life needs to throw me a bone, because I just kind of felt like a puddle of mush on the floor that couldn't go after anything on my own. And I got on my knees and told God to please let me just feel sure and confident about something.
And something good happened when I got back to California today.
I got off the plane, and I felt it in my gut...the same feeling I had last summer when I uprooted myself and moved here all alone like a crazy person, despite all the uncertainty and unknowns. As I stood on the train platform at the airport today and looked at the California hills and trees, and breathed in the muggy, oceany climate...I felt brave, and I felt hope, and I felt a pervasive, thrumming, YES. I know that feeling, because it's what got me here in the first place. And today it told me, "YES, you still got this."
And then I rode the train home to my neighborhood. And the playlist I was listening to shuffled to Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move," and I felt another feeling I haven't felt in awhile. The thing is, I've spent too much of the last few weeks with surrender on one shoulder and defeat on the other, both just sitting heavy on me. I've caught myself, more often than I'd like, looking at the ground while I walked, and dreading run-ins with people who reminded me of things that made me sad and only added to the weight. But when I stepped off the train today, and that Switchfoot song queued up, I felt like lifting my chin for the first time in awhile. I felt like looking life in the face. I felt like fighting, in a good way. I felt like maybe I can accept surrender, as a positive thing, without pairing it with defeat. I felt like none of the setbacks of the last few months have got anything on my willpower, my stamina, or my faith. And I can't even tell you how much I needed to feel those things again.
I wouldn't say that the situations the last few months, of various job setbacks and various little heart bruises and breaks, would be something I want to go through again. And I don't even know, sometimes, if I'd make the leap again if I could have seen how tangled it would all get. BUT. Even if the next few months (or years, who knows!) play out just like the recent ones, today it felt good to remember that I've still got it in me. I don't know if I've "come out on top" yet, because for all I know I'm just somewhere in the middle at this point, but I do know that I'm not a dry, empty well after all. Maybe I was, for a little while, and maybe I will be again sometimes, but today I feel like I've got at least a bucketful of water replenished in there. And tomorrow, maybe another bucket. And more hopeful buckets after that.
i dare you to move
i dare you to move
i dare you to lift yourself
up off the floor