I've been going for so long now... going somewhere... but where?
I never paid any attention as to where I was going until age 16. Up to that point, my life had been such a disaster that the idea of a future hadn't even occurred to me. I had so many problems... some of which I've only barely mentioned here because they still haunt me to this very day.
We all have our demons, but it is not my intention to write about demons. No, not tonight.
Tonight, I am writing about the beginnings of a change in the direction not of my feet, but of my compass.
At age sixteen, I ran away from my life, and the truth of the matter is that I've been running ever since - until recently.
My running began one day in high school when another student in my school talked to my class about his year overseas as an exchange student.
"Well shit," I thought, "I hate everything I know here, and overseas is as far from here as one could get." Being an exchange student sounded perfect.
Nine months later, I was beginning my year abroad, living in Santa Cruz De La Sierra, Bolivia. The experience was unlike anything I'd ever known, and it changed me in ways that resonate to this very day.
There's an episode of Seinfeld I really enjoy called "The Opposite."
"...every decision I've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat... It's often wrong." - George
"If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right." - Jerry
Though it was never my intention, I became the opposite of everything I knew as a child. My family are country folks. I'm a city boy. They're meat and potatoes. I could eat sushi daily. My father's family drinks cheap beer to excess. I drink microbrews, or wine but can't even remember the last time I was drunk. New Years Eve, 2000 maybe? My mother's favorite home she ever lived in was a trailer in a trailer park. My favorite is the loft I'm in now, with its exposed concrete and walls of glass overlooking downtown.
To be fair to my mother, she probably loved the trailer because it was hers, and that's a beautiful thing. I love my loft because it is sooooo me. It's modern. It's unique. It's stylish. It's an oasis of peace and quiet in the middle of a bustling city.
I could go on and on, pointing out a million differences between my family and I, and though those details would further paint the picture of the man I'm not, they do me no favors in terms of painting the picture of the man I want to become.
The opposite isn't really me. It is my upbringing on a sign with a red circle and slash through the middle that says "I'm Not That."
...so then, what am I?
I am whatever I want to be, and whatever I choose to be.
Call it cliche if you will, but I truly enjoy Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken."
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference
Two roads diverged in a wood of northeast Pennsylvania, and I -- I took the one that least resembled everything I'd ever known. It led me to a world unlike everything I'd ever known, but it did not come with a map.
Having reached my destination... having become the opposite... I find myself at a loss regarding where to go next.
I'd like to say that only time will tell, but the onus is on me, not time, to decide my fate.
The Next Step.
...to be continued - because, let's face it, life is "to be continued" until your dying day. In my case, that's hopefully decades away. I mention this because my father killed himself at age 35. Last week, I turned 36. It seems crazy to think I've lived longer than my father did, and yet I feel as if my life is still just beginning.
And it is.
And it will be until my dying day, because no matter how much I learn, there will be that much more that I want to know. And no matter how much I do, there will be that much more that I want to do.
Once upon a time, it was enough to become the opposite. Then I became Rob... Rob has hopes, and dreams, questions and queries. Rob is an inquisitive motherfucker.
Rob wants it all.
. . . t o b e c o n t i n u e d .
Awesome post.::::: | June 2, 2007 12:14 AM
The other night I said something to my cat and my Southern accent was loudly present. After my mother passed away I realized that my past was something I needed to hold close and not forget. It helps me measure my progress and reminds me of things that I loved about being alive. The food, the unique language and sometimes even the customs. My passed has given me a richness that a middle class upbringing could have never given me. I don't know if its good or bad but you wouldn't be where you are if you didn't come from somewhere. I too would ask for one more moment with my father and mother but I know that's impossible so I keep looking forward.
thanks for the post, as ever you're always reminding me of what I'm doing here.::::: | June 3, 2007 1:38 PM