I know I already went down this path and talked about how good it feels getting away (and will probably write about it again and again); but I feel like I should do it today as well. As I perused some dumb posts on my Facebook I came across a gif set from upworthy. com which I can relate, and I know all you wanderlusting travelers, adventure-seeking and world-trotting readers will enjoy. The link will be posted at the end, first I will grace you with my post. Today’s post, however, is a little more emotive. It contains the other side of the coin, what you leave behind when you get on that plane and fly off into your destiny. So get ready for all the feels of the world to come down on you.
Yesterday, my mother turned to me while she was sweeping and without looking me in the eye she said to me, “I’ll miss you when you’re gone.” At that moment I looked at her, she didn’t look at me, she held her eyes downcast, her mouth a hard-line and her shoulders hunched. I knew what it meant to her to admit it out loud. I held my ground and smiled, told her she could come along if she promised to cook and clean for me for free. She hesitated and laughed, a weak laugh, she retorted by saying she couldn’t leave my father (‘who would take care of your father?’) or my brother (‘who would keep your brother in line?’); she even mentioned our dogs (‘Zero and Luna will never be able to live without me’). And in that moment I thought about how I had to learn to live without her. Without the immediate comfort of my family, the loving embraces of my pets and everything that made this hard terrain of a farm a home to me.
I’ve come to understand that life is like a two-faced coin. On one side there is what you want, and on the other there is what you have (like Rossetti’s A Sonnet). In order to fully see one side you must cover up the other. It is only then, when the coin has been bent, twisted and spent that you can fully see both sides. And that is what life is about; it’s about choosing a side and hoping that in the end both sides can become one.
To walk away there is so much at stake. There is more than just leaving an old boss, a comfortable job, a classroom, a university, and old friends. Walking away, means (to me) not watching my parents grow old, not seeing my brother graduate, not playing with my dog, not cuddling with my cat. Small things; it’s always the small things. Time and space that I will not share with them because I will be making my own space and spending my own time on other things that don’t directly include them. Yes, there will be visits. Yes, there will be calls, Skype, mail and email, but none of these methods can actually transfer to me those ephemeral moments. I will not be there to fully enjoy my mother’s retirement days with her. I won’t be there to mock crappy TV shows and movies with my father. I won’t be there to yell across the hall to my brother that he needs to shut up even though he hasn’t said anything all day.
Walking away also means missing out on the bigger things in life; the birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and (worst of all) the deaths of loved ones. My grandparents aren’t getting any younger; in fact my mother’s father barely recognizes me anymore. His wife (my grammy), is in no better shape, and I know that their day will come; and I fear that I won’t be there to make my peace and say goodbye. I am no stranger to the death of a grandparent, my father’s mother died when I was 8 and it sent me into a spiral that took years to get over. The mere thought of coming back and finding my grandparent’s gone causes a world of feelings; feelings I thought had left when my grandma died back in 1999. Being near them won’t make the transition any easier, but I being there will make it more meaningful. Being able to properly say goodbye to the woman who taught me love and gave me blankies (my mother’s mother); to be able to salute a goodbye to the soldier who taught me to be kind and helpful to others (my mother’s father), and to make peace with the stern man who taught me how to shoot a shotgun (my father’s father). Those things, are what I fear I would miss.
It is this inability to conciliate my future self with my present self that leads me to hesitate. It is this inability to be in two places at once that cause me to realize my limitation; to know that I am human. And to, unwillingly, accept that I can’t have the best of both worlds (Damn you Hannah Montana!). It is also the realization of this reality that makes me fear my future; it makes me doubt my path. It is this they meant when they said growing up is hard. I, as an adult, have to make compromises, sacrifices and decisions that will shape me for the rest of my life. I have to pass up on things, time and experiences that I will never get back. And truth be told, I don’t feel ready. I don’t feel secure about all of the things I must do, the places I have to go and the people I have to meet. Nevertheless, if I wait until I am ready it might be too late. I might lose more than that I am loosing now. One must stand, even if their legs are shaking, and one must run towards their goal, even if they are limping. Victory, in the end, will taste so much sweeter when you realize that you went head on even though you didn’t know whether your head was on or not.
My mother, though meek at times, rabid when mad and silly when happy, she has supported me even if it means losing her only daughter for a period of time. I am grateful that I have her support and that even though she is hurting because she doesn’t want me to go, she believes in me and that is enough to go into the world and make her proud.
P.S. As promised, here is the link Upworthy post.