I’m up at mom’s house now. I have one box of stuff remaining. A few gifts and one basic change of clothes. I’m sleeping on the downstairs pull out bed. In a early mirroring of our future life, I have only two t-shirts and do laundry twice a week.
I’m starting to feel it.
I have a strong ability to create boundaries between present and future obligations, problems or experiences. I don’t worry about bad things that I can’t control in the present.
And there are lots of good feelings and fun activities to do up here in the suburbs. I feel comfortable in the house and relaxed, so there’s no consistent reminder of what’s coming. All this is the same as so many other holidays, but it's preceding something totally different. This short interval of regularity is going to be followed by something completely new. When we should be going back to work in a week or two, we’ll be packing our backpacks and calculating visa costs.
We’re headed towards a cliff. Not just this trip, not just being married but a whole new city when we return. A whole new place and job and so on.
And along with that, a new me. Who we’ll be when we come back is a whole other thing but one that doesn’t worry me too much. I’ve been through enough experiences that changed me to do anything but look forward to an updated and more current version of myself. The overwhelming presentness and power of the coming experiences will reorient who I am into a self built of chosen experiences and less of past narratives or fears.
At breakfast with my dad last week, I was explaining once again why Jess and I are moving out of Chicago. Jess is from the south and doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with half the year in a cold, grey winter. Why then, my dad asked, would moving to Denver (one of our stronger contenders) work? And he’s right. The stated reasons we’ve been working from aren’t sufficient. The things we are devoted to and that we love don’t suggest that leaving my home here is the right idea. And I can see in his face when I look at him how much it hurts that we are leaving. But he followed up with an answer to his own question.
And so in some ways, the reasons for this trip are the same as the reasons for moving away. To choose something new. To find a new me and a new life in a new place. Starting this next chapter of life with a choice less dependent on tradition or old habits.
I believe that, in the long run, this is the right decision. That too often we make life defining decisions based on fear, on avoiding losing something or hurting someone. It’s a form of scarcity, of clinging to the present because the rewards of the future are uncertain and the pain of changing all too clear.
I know that leaving home and starting over will be rejuvenating. I know stress will spur new growth for me, will push me to do more and be more.
In the long run, moving on will help me move on as a person. I’ll become someone more related to the present and less focused on the lessons of the past; the anachronistic coping strategies or compulsive behaviors triggered by old places or people.
But I am afraid.
Right now I feel like I am abandoning my parents. Betraying them in a sense by choosing a life with this new person who, comparatively, I’ve only just met. It comes down to little problems, ones that objectively will be easily solved. I don’t need to be here to fix my mom’s computer or help my dad move his office. These adults have survived without me for longer than I have been alive. They have to continue with their lives too and will have to negotiate the problems and challenges of their age and their relationships on their own. They always have.
This is how life works. Thing never stay the same, and the magic of life lies in the way it changes. How it stops looking like we expect and we have to, once again, adapt and grow to find our place in it.
I need to start this new chapter where I’m a husband and a partner and eventually a father. And they need to start one where the burden of parenting and providing is over. Where their primary responsibility is them and the health and happiness of their own life. I hope by moving into the next phase of my life, I am giving them space to do the same.
Perhaps what I am feeling now is more recognition that a change is happening and that some things that are of incredible value to me will be lost. Or at least that they will change and I can’t know yet into what. I have confidence that what will come will be at least as good if not better, but that doesn’t mean I won’t treasure this time now.
The simple and casual comfort of being here now. Of sitting at my mom’s table in the morning, drinking coffee and watching my sister and mom read the Sunday paper. Cooking and cleaning and walking the dog.
It’s a gift to realize this while it’s happening. A full realization of the magic that is always present: the irreducible and astonishing uniqueness of the right now. It’s easy to look back and see how precious and nurturing and full the past can be. I’m happy to, at least in this moment, see it as it’s happening.