Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring in Southern Wisconsin, storm headed our way.
Last night in the absence of sleep, I started thinking about my tattoo. Efforts towards clearing the mind were, as usual, unsuccessful. Finding the post where I first wrote about it, I remembered the reasoning, the adventure that took us there, and the words of meaning behind it. I can still trace my fingers along the bumpy lines, thankful and not regretful of the odd little leaf on my shoulder. Those words and that meaning still hold true today, reminding me that it will, as it was before, be okay.

Lately, the air feels restless with spring as the weather bounces between warm days of sunshine and cold days of dreary. I'm hesitant to celebrate spring, despite the swelling buds and sprouting seeds. I can look back on years of Facebook posts to find jubilation at the first outdoor run of the season, of the warm kiss of sunshine on the skin, of excitement for what's to come. But this year, I just don't feel it. The dreary grasp of winter seems unshakable, and sinks in with the other odd things of note. Like my waning perfectionism. Usually I don't wait until the last minute. Usually I take time to put my best foot forward. But not recently. There's trash still left in my car, weeks later. I am seemingly fine hastily putting together something that will work. I frequently show up late to work, and seem less worried with punctuality. I've stopped playing with calligraphy, haven't picked up my knitting needles in a while, and seem only to get lost in books and internet distractions. All little things that wave like little warning flags to tread careful on this ledge. Tread ever so carefully.

I'm going on my fourth year and fifth winter of the Midwest, a majority of that now in Wisconsin. Luckily I first landed in Iowa, with the friends and community of Decorah. That first summer remains the most magical of my lifetime, filled with adventures and all of what makes life burst forth with love and friendship. But summer ends as winter comes, and so did my time in Decorah. Luck landed me a job in Janesville, working a position I felt lucky to have and made to do. Life settled into normal expectations. I found less community, but solid friendships that were more of what you expected out of adulthood. I began to enjoy being alone, and grew stronger into myself, in my emotions, in my being. I could take care of myself, which was important as my friends got married, had babies, and life moved forward.

And I adventured. I found friends. I found hobbies. A few short relationships. I did my best.

Somewhere along the line, I developed the idea of the five year plan. In five years, I would figure out if I wanted to settle down permanently here or move on to something else. That five year mark would involve a serious endeavor towards non-apartment living and accepting the long-term inevitability of where I am. But two years in, there was a massive budget cut made to the UW-System. With a shift in organizational structure, job security was on the line. A year later this January, newly revealed plans put me squarely in the 'ah fuck' party. With further uncertainty of my job existing next year, I realized my timeline had moved forward. And what the fuck do I do now? Continue to wait it out, hoping a position exists somewhere in Wisconsin? Someplace where I can build a friendship base again, successfully date, and find a settled place to be? Or do I look for adventure elsewhere? Do I open myself to opportunities, make a plan to pack up my things and my dog, and head someplace to do it all over again, all over in a new place? Fuck. I hate unanswerable questions.

In any case, I plan to do both. One will work before the other, I hope. But - uncertainty. Uncertainty is the hardest for me. Not knowing where and when, what next. And having that uncertainty, the "me and my dog moving forward" take on the cusp of turning thirty. When I thought I'd have it settled. And here then, I find myself on that ledge. Unable to sleep as my mind frantically runs through everything. But I realize I'm okay because of my friends. Because of where I've brought myself personally. Because despite the unknowns, it is okay, and it will be okay, even if it doesn't look great. I can, and I will, have bad days. And I won't be the shining example of hopes and dreams I wish I could be. But I will be okay. I will always be okay. Just as that leaf reminds me. Change happens, but I am still here. Permanent as the leaf on my shoulder, but able to shift as the seasons do. And as I've done before, I'll make it through again.

I'm incredibly thankful for my friends. For board games and farmer meeples. For sharing books and dog walks. I'm grateful for adventures near and far, for parks to explore, for Nerd Nite talks and chances, baby pictures and manicures, letters and postcards, dinners, everything. Waking up today, I realized how much these small things have carried me through, kept me safely on the ledge. Keeping me hopeful, helping me believe in myself and what can come, keeping me from falling into the dark places I was before. Yes, Decorah was magical. But I was lost in a deep, painful loneliness that I've worked hard to get out of these past few years. Those demons aren't vanquished, and they regularly rear their heads to dance with my heart and mind. Especially as of late, when so much is uncertain. And I turn thirty, so soon. But I have tools, methods, and words to help myself, to keep myself from being lost. I've built myself a basement, a safe space, a net to land on, an anchor to keep me too far from shore. This time the storm is coming, but it feels different. Change is ready, and it doesn't feel so frightening. The ground feels so much more solid. And so I'm grateful. Thank you, friends. Thank you for carrying me through. Thank you for the love, the support, the net. Thank you.

hello, blooming cactus. thank you for the flower.

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