A heart that’s full up like a landfill,
A job that slowly kills you,
Bruises that won’t heal.
You look so tired and unhappy…
I’m at one of those crossroad points in life, and as has often been the case of late, I’ve no idea what to do. This is not an entirely bad thing. The very fact that I feel concerned about this is a good sign– I finally care about myself again. It is with some chagrin that I admit that for nearly six years I didn’t care very much. I was content to be miserable. In fact, I was more than content– I actively looked for ways to increase my misery, first as a radical method of healing, but later as a sort of sorrowful, self-fulfilling prophecy. That finally came to an end in January. I was wandering around Lisbon, as ever pondering my life, when, for a lack of a better way of saying it, I rediscovered my love for life. Shortly thereafter, after brief stops in Paris and Dublin, I returned to America, and bought an umbrella. That last part doesn’t make sense, I know, but to me it was symbolic. It meant that the healing was at last complete.
My friends and family have been unable to understand what I have been doing for the past six years, and I’ve been unable to properly explain it. I still can’t, other than to say that by building a chasm between my old life and my current life, I cured what ailed me, and I again care about my well-being and my future. This is all fine and well, but it presents me with a host of new problems to face. Chief among those problems: I am homeless and unemployed.
That isn’t as bad as it sounds– I’ve been homeless by choice, so now it’s more a matter of choosing a place to live than anything else, though I do need to get on the whole “figure out a job” thing. It turns out that “life’s savings” is not an accurate name, as I don’t think mine will actually last me the rest of my life. I’m going to need to add to it, and sooner rather than later.
Yeah, it’s overwhelming
But what else can we do
Get jobs in offices
And wake up for the morning commute?
For the past two weeks I have been in New York. I sold my business in California, came here with the intention of staying, and have been half-heartedly hunting for an apartment ever since. I may have found one. I am waiting to hear from the landlord, but on Tuesday I applied for an apartment in the somewhat rough and tumble Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The question is– do I want an apartment here, or anywhere? If I get an apartment, then what? I’ll have to pay rent, which means I’ll need to find a job.
Is that really what I want to do with my life? Settle into some semi-shabby but affordable apartment and dive back into the rat race? To what end? Best case I’ll end up with a job that barely supports me, and I’ll live paycheck to paycheck until… until what? The economy and general state of the nation aren’t such that retirement seems like a realistic option. I really worry that if I enter that world, I’ll never escape.
Also– New York? Really? I’ve visited this city more times than I can count, and have already spent more than a year of my life here. I never wanted to live here. Yet here I am. How much do I even want to be here, and how much of it is just a sort of default? The Bay Area has become a stagnant and moribund job zone, unless you’re an engineer, while New York is at least somewhat recession-proof. That’s not say that this city is booming; the entire country is in the doldrums, but there is at least more going on here than most other places at the moment. Though New York isn’t where I’d ideally live, it seems like the place where I have the best shot at finding gainful employment.
I’d say at this point, the odds are about 40% that I’ll stay here in New York, 20% that I’ll take off for Las Vegas and support myself at the poker tables for as long as I can tolerate being in Las Vegas, and 40% that I’ll do… something else. I have no idea what that something is.
Return, return to the person that you were.
And I will do the same,
Cause it’s too hard to belong
To someone who is gone.
My compass spins,
The wilderness remains.
I don’t think I can ever return to the person I once was. I was a hard-working, pleasure-deferring, risk-averse, responsible individual. I had a simple, happy life, and I had chosen an understandable path for myself. Everything was going according to plan. I had that rarest of jobs– one that I loved, which required minimal effort on my part, yet earned me more money than I needed. I sacrificed so much back then– so many opportunities to relax or enjoy myself, and so many years of my life– all to achieve a future that was stolen away from me in the blink of an eye. I’m at last back on track, but everything I worked for is gone, and I know that even if I wanted to be him, the person I once was has been irrevocably lost.
Sometimes I see him across the chasm, and I barely recognize him. I’ve grown into someone different– someone stronger and better equipped to face the realities of the world in which I live. I may not be impervious to the pain life can bring, but I know I’m better shielded against it. All I need do now is choose the path upon which I will discover the next chapter of my life.