I recently made my fourth long distance move in just over 11 years. You would think that I would have a whole lot more confidence about starting over personally and professionally than I do. Maybe I've become more realistic as I've aged, but the truth is that I have become more worried and more insecure with each move. This move may be the toughest for that reason, and being here alone for most of the first five months didn't made it any easier. Let's just say that I have decided that I'm getting too old for this stuff.
It still amazes me to think back about my first big move. It really was the biggest one, and it stands out as one of the most important decisions that I have ever made--even if it was made rather impulsively. I was 29-years old and recently divorced (a divorce that lasted longer than the oh-so-wrong marriage), on the verge of bankruptcy, experiencing medical problems, and wanting to literally run away from a magnetically toxic ex-boyfriend. When my friend in NC mentioned wanting to move to Knoxville or Chattanooga, I impulsively said, "If you go to Chattanooga, I'll move with you." Before I could come up with an excuse for my verbal diarrhea, she was finding us a place to live and I had contacted a realtor to sell my house.
Besides my sister and my two precious nephews, the only real reason I could find to stay in Ft. Wayne was my job. After years spent drifting from job to job, being unhappy, depressed, and restless, I had found something that I was not only good at but that I loved doing. I was doing outreach and education for the local rape awareness program. I had some amazing co-workers, and I felt like I was making a real difference in the lives of young people. It was so illogical for me to leave the job, but I knew that I had to follow my heart, even if I didn't know exactly where it would lead me.
It really is a miracle that our relationship survived all of the drama surrounding it from the start. In addition to the fact that he thought I was a lesbian when he met me, I had to be the least attractive choice for him. My roommate did everything in her power to drive him away, including calling the police to his mother's house when I didn't come home one night. I had a houseful of animals to which he was deathly allergic. I was recently divorced, had family issues, was financially strapped, and friendless. I don't know what he saw in me, but I'm glad that he did, and it all worked out in the end.
So, here I am back in Louisiana, but now as an adult, trying to re-establish myself yet again. When I started this entry, I was still looking for a job, living on my own and not knowing when Mitchell would be joining me, and feeling lonely and depressed. I've been at my job at the local rape crisis center for over three months now, and I feel amazingly more optimistic and confident. I've become actively involved in the very busy and never-ending work of animal rescue in and around my community. I've reunited with childhood friends, and I've been able to see my sister fairly regularly.
It's hard not to wonder, though, where I will be in a year, in three years, or in five years. I've spent so long living my life knowing that my location was temporary that I've become accustomed to thinking of my life in terms of "what if" and "when x happens, then y is possible." I'm still thinking that way to some degree, because I would like to return to school and pursue a career in counseling in the future, but I'm much more focused on putting down roots, creating community, establishing patterns, and finding favorite spots.
I'm ready to settle in, to make this place my home, to get comfortable. And, I'm more than ready to do so with my partner, who has only been "officially" living in Louisiana for about a month. We survived my roommate from Hell. We overcame his allergies. We have rebuilt credit and bank accounts. We have bought and sold houses, moved from state to state (to state to state), and packed and unpacked many times over. We're best friends, and we made our relationship legal after 10 years together. We have worked hard to get where we are and will work hard to get where we want to be always.
I live in Louisiana now, and I'm here to stay...or, at least that's the plan.