Four years ago almost to this day, I was moving into an apartment on Grand. I had done downtown living right after college, and then, at 26, felt too old to return to it. I had just spent the last two years in a stint of northern suburban living, and still felt too young to continue it. And so I ended up on Grand, which seemed right about in the middle of urban energy and calming community.
And all the while I assumed, based in the reasons stated above, that Grand had come about somewhat organically in my mind. But this simply wasn’t the case.
The fact was, it took a high school girlfriend to remind me that I had fallen in love with this neighborhood a decade earlier, so much so that I had declared, while still IN high school, that I would live “down here” someday.
And I remembered that she was right. Her and I had driven down to Grand/Summit multiple times on those boring nights of a living as a teenager, when you’re in the limbo of trying to speed through high school by imagining all that will happen once it’s over. We wandered the sidewalks, stole glances into houses, and formed juvenile opinions on wicker porch furniture, if shutters were a necessity, and what colors make for improper front doors.
Except for maybe they weren’t such juvenile opinions, after all. Maybe they were just the product of what we really felt, years before we had refined the adulthood nature of swallowing our opinions for the benefit of others. Back then, saying things came as naturally as breathing. Things that we would never imagine saying now, at the risk of being seen as harsh. Improper. Impolite.
And, of course, this isn’t just about houses. (It never is, is it?) It is more about the fact that I had found something in the past, a neighborhood I loved, in this instance, that I was determined to make a part of my life. But not only had I not followed through with it, I had FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT COMPLETELY. Needless to say, wondering how that can happen will start to make you think about things. Wondering about what else has been neglected, or downright forgotten, and how and when you began living a life in which you let that happen to yourself.
It’s also about, how in the course of fumbling toward adulthood, we learn that the things that we say are best received when stated politely, and maybe, fairly often, that even means never saying them at all. And how this becomes such a habit that it begins to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, until we are even editing our personal thoughts about ourselves this way. Thoughts about if our feelings are valid. Thoughts about if our goals are worthy enough. And maybe that’s how things start to feel foreign, and uncomfortable, and lead into being forgotten about.
So I vowed to start paying better attention to “finding out who I really was,” which, when you are finally willing to look at it from a mature angle, you quickly realize is pretty much the same thing as “reviving who I always have been to chicken shit to be.”
The fact is, we spend the majority of our 20’s, or 30’s, or 40’s, searching for who we are, when apparently all we are doing is waiting for it to dawn on us that we have had a pretty good idea of who we have been for a pretty long time.
I just “hadn’t been paying attention,” I first told myself, which I have come to realize is nothing more than the laziest of excuses. Yes, clearly I had not been paying attention, on the surface. But being oblivious to something is a choice we all make, whether we admit to it or not. So THAT hadn’t I been paying attention was the first layer. But WHY had I CHOSEN to not pay attention was what was really disturbing.
And I think that, for most of us, the answer basically boils down to the fact that we don’t approve of the “answer” of who we really was. Or we think that, with enough revisions, we can still change into our “ideal.”
I had an ideal for myself. An ideal that I couldn’t concretely explain. An ideal that I accepted merely as “I’ll know it when I feel it.”
But an ideal that remains undefinable will, as a direct result, forever remain unattainable.
And then I got furious. Furious that I had wasted all this time, energy and willpower on making myself feel miserable. Sick that I had given myself permission to feel miserable for such a long time. Disgusted in the fact that, as much as I think, and rethink, and write things down, and watch, listen and try to learn from other people, it turns out I didn’t know really anything at all.
And once you drop the concept of “searching for who I am,” and just saddle the fuck up and begin accepting who you are, ironing out life gets SO MUCH EASIER. And you know what I learned? Being true to yourself is often miscategorized as being harsh. Improper. Impolite.
So be willing to be seen as harsh, improper, and impolite. Because you have a right in refusing to accommodate things that drain your energy. Exercise that right.
And the little changes will come, rapid-fire.
I started to realize that I did a lot of things that really didn’t make a lot of sense. Things that were not true to my personality, or respectful of my time, or were only daily “fillers” that did nothing but stress me out and take time away from things that I enjoyed. For example:
I realized I received about 25 emails a day that I never even open before deleting. I unsubscribed from them.
I noticed many Facebook friends that, every status update, annoyed the hell out of me. I unfriended them.
I had 30 books on my bookshelf that I knew I would never have the urge to read twice, but I had been saving them because they were “good enough to recommend.” I had spent the last two years dusting them. Then I donated them.
I found myself at Barnes & Noble one afternoon, planning to buy the highly recommended book that everyone was reading. But I saw a more intriguing cover on a book I’d never heard of. I bought the latter. And devoured it in one sitting. I still have not read the popular one.
I quit feeling guilty about the $12 bar of soap that I love to buy down the block. I decided that every day, we all deserve a small indulgence of some kind. And mine will be $12 soap, and you can think that that’s downright idiotic, and I couldn’t care less.
Which means I am at Caribou a little less. Which makes it taste so much better when I am.
And when it became time to plan for a move, I started with two bedrooms. “I could have an office,” I thought. Then I looked at one bedrooms. “Then I can pay off my school loans faster,” I thought.
Then I realized, if I smashed all the furniture I hated, and donated everything else that I thought I had to have but turns out I never really used, I could fit into a studio. So smash I did. And to Goodwill I went.
And I signed a year lease on a studio.
I moved in last Sunday.