Monday, August 3, 2015

Let's Talk: Changes

I've never been a big fan of huge changes.

Actually, that's not quite true.  One of my favorite things in the world to do is explore new places, whether it's walking through the streets of Venice late at night simply wandering down a new street of New York City to see what I can find.  I enjoy hotel rooms for what they're meant to be, "places to sleep between awesome daily adventures."  Travel, if nothing else, is all about experiencing constant change.  I love it.

However, I can also get into holding patterns (or "ruts" if you're being negative).  Part of this is tied to depression, as it's possible to simply let your life spiral out of control around you and you just slide through, not being at all proactive about making it better.  But sometimes it's just about comfort.  It's nice knowing that you don't need to pull your whole life out by the roots to adapt to things.

I don't mean that in a negative way.  There are lots of things a lot of us take a lot of comfort in.  Waking up each day knowing you have a job.  Coming home to discover your home hasn't burned down.  Eating comfort food instead of daring to put a lot of effort into something that could turn out horrible in the kitchen and you're just so hungry.  There are so many routines and "holding patterns" that so many of us have because without them, life would be terrifying.  Sure, I could spend every day hunting for a new job/apartment/car/brand of underwear but what I have now is reliable and has more positives than negatives, and that's what counts.

So, as people know, I haven't really posted anything for the past few weeks, and that's partly due to my taking advantage of some overtime at work, but it's also partly due to a rather huge change that's hit me recently, and it's taken me some time to think about it and what it all means.

My parents moved.

Let me be more specific about that.  My parents didn't just move down the street or across the state.  They moved about as far as you can go before you have to take oceans into account.

I've talked about Maine before, and one of the things I talked about is how it's extremely hard to break that "from away" barrier for so many people I've met.  Unless you have immediate family here, or you were born here and then simply moved away and came back, it's really hard to feel like you aren't somehow "separate" from the rest of the state.

For my family, I don't think Maine ever really fit.  There were great people here that they knew, and my parents were both successful in their work here (how many of your parents have their names on bills that were passed by the state legislature, huh?), I think that, deep down, they were "West Coast" people, and nothing could really change that, not even 20 years of living on the East Coast.

So where does that leave me?  Well, in an interesting place.  See, my parents didn't just go by themselves.  Since my sister requires some specialized services, she went with them as well.  They took the family dog with them.  In essence, the closest immediate family I have right now is an aunt and uncle several states away, and then nothing until after you get past the Rockies.

So needless to say, there's been a lot of emotions tied up in this.  There's excitement that I'm truly "on my own" in every sense of the word now.  I can't just stop by my parents house now and again to hang out, have a meal, or do a quick load of laundry.  I won't be calling them to find out if they want to see a movie that's out, or working out my own schedule around them needing something delivered, or needing help with yard work, or needing me to stay at the house to watch it when they travel.

On the other hand, it's also absolutely terrifying.  I'm cut off from a pretty huge safety net.  If my car needed to go into the shop, I was always able to count on my family to help me whether it was giving me a ride to and from work or simply providing me the number of a repair guy who does good work cheap.  Being able to bum along on trips up to Boothbay Harbor or Boston as a "family outing" are out the window now.  If something terrible happens, it's going to be much, much harder for me to get any support I need out here, whether it's if I'm injured, my apartment building burns down, or I just get stranded on the side of the highway.

I have to be more responsible now and think more about the "what ifs" than I had to previously.  Now, I have a pretty active imagination, so I can think of some pretty terrifying "what ifs."  Spontaneous ice ages, spider infestations, having a bomb strapped to the bottom of my car that will go off if the vehicle ever goes below 55 miles per hour, random pumas...

That whole major chunk of my social network is now gone.  I'm left alone facing nightmares of laundromats, strange car mechanics, and the possibility of needing to stay in a hotel until Delbert McClintock is done killing crawly things from my home.

I'm sad that my family has left and I won't be able to see them again for some time, but I have Skype, Facetime, Facebook, email, cell phones, and other means of keeping in touch.  I'm happy that they're going to get to reconnect with old friends and family they don't see often enough, even though it means they're essentially starting their lives anew (their old lives again anew with carryover from the old?  I've already lost track of this thought) without me there.

But, overall, I think the excitement and the mind-numbing terror are tied for the top spot right now.  There's that nagging voice in the back of my head at times that says, "Okay, Erik, you're on your own.  You're your own man.  You can do anything and everything you want.  Now, how are you going to royally screw this up?"   Combined, the two leave me in a bit of a daze, not really able to get eager or excited to immediately rush out and try new things, but also not anywhere near curling up in a ball and waiting to see if the world changes to "make it better" for me.

For now, it feels like the best thing I can do is just maintain that "holding pattern" as best I can.  I get up in the morning, I go to work, I live each day without expecting everything to suddenly change and leave me lost and adrift.  Once I'm more steady on my feet, I then start worrying about better apartments, cars, or anything else.  I need to prove to myself that I've mastered this stage of my life before I immediately try to jump it up to the next level.

That doesn't mean I can't try new things, though.  There are many Maine towns I've never been to.  There are many restaurants I've never tried.  There are many movies I haven't seen because I was waiting to see if my family wanted to watch them with one during a family night.  There are classes I want to take (ballroom, cooking, acting, astronomy) and clubs I want to join.

In a scary way, the world really has opened up for me, though I want to make it clear that at no point do I feel like my parents were suffocating me or keeping me on a leash or anything.  It was my choice to stay nearby to help them if they needed it, but they made it clear that I could simply say "no" a lot of the times they called to see if I was available to help with something.

I just never did.  I think "being there for my family" was a holding pattern I held for a really, really long time.  Well, that...plane? Anyway, that holding pattern-maintaining vehicle is gone now.  It's time to embrace life.

I just wish it could be just a smidgen less terrifying sometimes, but I don't think it would be half as exciting if it was.

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