"If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey)

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door… You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Beginning

Everyone knows the old adage, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." To my knowledge, this is an illustration of making the best out of whatever life gives you. But what happens if life stops giving you lemons? I'm sure no one ever told me that there might come a day when lemons will cease to be available. No one is told that. It's rather like how every young girl is told that somewhere out there is a special person looking just for her. She just has to wait a little while for him to find her. But what if there isn't? No one is told that perhaps there isn't a special someone for everyone who looks for him. Of course no one is told that--who wants to hear that? It is something that must be learned--and accepted, if one runs into the misfortune of having to accept such a lesson--on one's own.

It has been about four and a half years since I graduated from college, and as I stand on the path that is my journey through life, I notice (with something like horror rumbling in my stomach) that I haven't moved very far ahead. This is not for lack of trying (much like the single state of my relationship status--which, despite all my attempts to change it, has remained laughably unchanged since birth). Insanity has been defined as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." It seems it's time for me to stop acting insanely and do something different.

But first, to regress a little. I've kept busy, worked here and there and helped where I could, as far as my shy and sometimes somewhat anti-social tendencies have allowed. There were plenty of things I thought I wanted to do, from entering the military to going back to school. Lots of lemons to choose from. The fact that I could never actually decide on which branch of the military to join, or which Master's program to enter, rather forced me to realize that perhaps none of these were what I really wanted to do.

Then there was Ithaca College. For a few years I really thought I wanted to work there. And for a little while, I really thought I was going to. But the more I waited and the more I tried, the more I began to realize... that nothing was happening. I was forced to admit that there were, in fact, no more lemons.

It was only just over a month ago now that I sat in the I.C. cafeteria on my lunch break after having been told that, no, I would not be getting even an interview for the job at which I'd been temping for the entire past semester. I sat there and waited for the world to shatter around me. It was December--the day after my birthday, in fact--the end of yet another year in a job that had not given me the ability to move into my own place, where I would have finally been able to taste the sweet fruits of freedom. (Temps at I.C. aren't given benefits, and if you want to live alone in New York State, you need some damn good benefits.) The beginning of yet another path that would lead to yet another temporary position that would give me yet again neither freedom nor assurance for the future.

I panicked for about two minutes.

And then, quite suddenly, another path opened in front of me. It was the path of least resistance, the one I'd been eying, in fact, for the past three years--the path I'd turned a fearful shoulder on over and over again despite the nagging curiosity of what, Oh! what lay at its end? Here it was, opening wide and bright in front of me. And it was at that moment that I began to traverse it.

I took a few hesitant steps forward, questioning the choice that loomed before me like a terrifying and yet tantalizing lure. With one foot in front of the other, I walked forward, entering the mouth of what appeared a dark and dank forest. I pushed aside the weeds and branches and trudged forward. Then the trees began to thin and the light grew brighter. Finally, the trees fell away and the world opened wide before me. Brightness and beauty and birdsong saturated my senses and lifted my spirits so that I was nearly pulled to the heavens.

One more step.

Two more steps.

Three more steps.

And then the earth fell away from my feet. My toes hung over the edge of a great cliff that dropped incalculable depths into an abyss below. This was the Leap of Faith that I somehow knew had been waiting for me at the end of the curious path. The very thing that I had searched for and yet run from. Here it was--and there was no turning back. I held my breath and closed my eyes... and jumped.

My decision is made. On the great mysterious Ocean that is Life, I have set my course. I know not the monsters or angels I will inevitably encounter, but I sail ahead, eager for every adventure. After 20 years of living in Ithaca, New York (minus the four I lived in Steubenville, Ohio, during which time I lived for a semester in Austria), I've decided to pack up and move to Rock Hill, South Carolina. As I stated earlier, I thought I wanted to do a lot of things. But this is the one thing I know I need to do. I move only with the assurance that I have a place to live for a time (thank you Cathy!), and on the hope that there, perhaps, I might find some lemons. For it stands to reason that, life having obviously ceased giving me lemons... what else remains but to go and look for them?

I conclude with a line by Celia Reese in my favorite book of hers, Pirates!:

"You may wish me luck or curse me for a damnable pirate, but do not look for me. I will be gone to parts beyond the sea."