Monday, February 10, 2014

Go Where You Wanna Go

Anytime I can start a Monday morning off with a blog titled after a Mamas and Papas' song, I feel like I'm getting a good start. May we all have Cass Elliott on lead along with our wake-up coffee, even when it is -3 degrees outside. Maybe especially when it is -3.

I had a fun, busy weekend, and I hope you did, too. Over the two-day span, I got asked, once, twice, three times if we are moving. Why? When? To WHERE?

I gave my standard answers: 

Why? We are putting our condo up on the market soon because it was not meant to be a long-term home for us, and we have already been here since 2004. It is a fourth-story walk-up, and is not accessible to all of our family, which means we cannot ever host a holiday, get-together, etc. Also, my 30-year old self was much happier ascending and descending icy stairs than my 40-year old self, and I have no doubt that new 30-year olds would be happy with that climbing arrangement, too, if we made this place available to them.

When? We thought we'd have it up on the market now, but the anomalous winter we are having has pushed back real estate spring from "post-Superbowl" to "whenever people actually feel like leaving their homes, TBD." We still need to do some painting, some final organizing, and some interior design magic, attempting to artfully hide a dozen crates of Girl Scout cookies stacked up in our dining room and awaiting delivery to far-flung places like Milwaukee. Of course, maybe Girl Scout cookies piled high make a dining room look extra inviting to potential buyers? We'll consult experts on this.

To WHERE? We don't know, and it is freaking me out. Is that a good answer?

I'm looking for work here. I'm looking for work there. I'm looking for work everywhere.  I'm the Dr. Seuss of relocating. I'm focusing my everywhere on places that are great for me and for my hubby and kid, too. I'm focusing my everywhere on places that are a) close to family and friends, or b) warmer and sunnier, or c) vibrant places to live, or d) some combination of a-c, knowing I (likely) can't have it all.

What does that mean?

LIMBO. Unknowing. Swimming in the soup. 

I'm not sure why I imagined that getting older meant feeling more solidly rooted to things, more sure of where I should be planted. I didn't arrange my life that way. We didn't pick Chicago as a place to live based on a desire for permanence; we came here for a temporary goal, the hubby earning a PhD. I have never been a person who is particularly change averse—steadiness is wonderful, but change is necessary to grow—so having some degree of impending change on the horizon shouldn't be a shocker. Having ambiguity seems to be exactly what I have opened myself up to experience. So if that's the case…

Why do the questions about moving unsettle me so?

I've decided, at least for now, that they most worry me because they set my busy mind spinning into "should have" mode. "You should know where you want to live by now. You should have already bought a house there, actually. You should have started building community, and equity, and certainty. You should have stopped being self-employed a few years back, and found steadier work then, and gotten more financial security established. You are already older than you should be to do the things you want to do. You should have done all this before having to endure this winter. You should paint/call the electrician/call the realtor again. You should have thought this through a little more thoroughly three years ago."

I'll stop there, but my brain goes on and on, from the mundane to the strategic to the spiritual. When given the chance, my spinning brain is mouthy. Sometimes I ignore her, but sometimes I have to talk back.

I have to ask her things, like, "Who says? Who says I needed to figure any of this out before right this minute? Who says I'm not exactly where I want to be? Who says the time isn't now?"

I have to tell her things, like, "You may always be talking, but you aren't always talking sense. You love your life, even with the icy stairs and the sense of unknowing. You've never been afraid of not knowing—not knowing is your sweet spot, where you do your best work."

Then I have remind my whole self, brain, body, and breath, things like, "You are here. You are here. You are here. You love others. You care for yourself. You are here. That is enough. That is home, wherever you live today, and wherever you live tomorrow."

Will this do the trick? I don't know. Busy brain has been living with me for as long as I can remember, and she likes her share of my time. If only I was as good at telling myself where to go—are we moving?—as I am at telling her where to go, she'd have a lot less to talk about these days.

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