After I saw it a few months ago, just floating there in the sky, everything started to change.
I spent almost the entire year before that in relative unhappiness. I had nuked my entire life flat and moved to California with a guy I had known for four weeks. I did this because I didn’t think it was a mistake, because my instincts told me to jump.
It wasn’t a mistake. But oh, starting over has its price.
I knew it would; I still remember the last time, years ago now, that I moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone but the man I had arrived with — how I became convinced I had wrecked my life, how I wept almost daily in the bathtub out of loneliness and fear. I remember how I longed for some kind of source of familiar comfort in my own life, some carved-out nook to curl up in, and had found nothing. You do eventually find some beginning point to chip away at, and what you unearth will be nothing less than all-encompassing revelation, but I hadn’t known that the first time.
No friends. No hobbies. No rest. No time for anything amid the tsunami of romantic and professional transition, with those same old reliable instincts telling me to respect the exhaustion permeating my bones, to bide my time on moving forward. I bore it as patiently as I could. If I have cultivated any form of discipline over the course of my life, it’s the patience to endure the desolate landscape of in-between, where there isn’t much air and very little to grab onto.
I’ve learned not to flinch away from the suspense, not to give in to the temptation to just grab a story by the arm so I can make something happen already.
People have gotten entire academic degrees just to make something happen. People have entered marriages, had babies, and gotten divorces just to make something happen. So much of the rhetoric of our culture is built around going out there and making something happen that I sometimes forget I’m not my own personal deity, a mistake for which I have paid dearly.
So I waited. I met the train every morning, rode into the city, detrained in an orderly fashion on the other end, waited for the crosswalk man to light up a few times, and arrived at my desk. Hours later I did the whole thing in reverse. I did this a seemingly impossible number of times. All the while I waited for a pattern to emerge, waited to make a trail long enough that I could look back and feel as if I’d gotten anywhere. The future has to arrive eventually; that is what it does.
Sometimes, in those involuntarily contemplative moments we all must endure on the train platform, I thought maybe I could hear it coming.