Several things have happened in the past couple of weeks.
- I went home to Baltimore and stood outside the big house in a small city that was once mine. I sat with friends on cobbled walks and sipped sugar-soaked drinks, drank in sunlight and the easy comfort that comes with people who know your whole soul. I remembered telling those same friends, one night when lightning struck by the harbor and we watched it from our porch, that one day the city I loved would be too small to hold all the dreams I harbored. During my visit, I walked familiar streets, felt the thrum of energy beneath my feet, the warmth of the earth itself. Felt again the strain of pulling my roots up from that rich loam, heard the groan of damp soil disturbed, the creak of branches and the snapping of twigs. I visited my favorite coffee shop and found that I no longer had a taste for the coffee there; it hadn’t changed, but I had.
- I started taking Spanish classes because it’s been a goal of mine—because I want to belong in the city that’s chosen me, and because I want other people to feel they can belong when they’re in my presence; I see that as my responsibility. I am blessed in that learning has always come easily to me, so long as I set my mind to the schoolwork. But returning to the classroom made me realize all the areas of my life in which I’m learning and it in no way mimics the classroom, all the areas where trial and error equals real-life success or failure, where the difference between getting it right and screwing it up can be your job, or it can be your principles, or it can be your happiness. Or they can all three be tangled together, and maybe you can’t tell where one ends and another begins, and so you try to satisfy all of them in perfect balance, if you can do that, but I don’t know how.
- I read this beautiful post by The Rejectionist—I mean Sarah McCarry, goodness, we can say that now—and the second I realized my cheeks were damp was also the second I realized I was sad. I wondered what I had to be sad about, when I’d earned my dreams, when I’d spent my day doing what I’d labored since high school to have the right to do. I read and re-read this line, over and over, again and again: “If you think getting what you want changes your life, you're most likely mistaken; there you are, still, in your same old body, fucking up, getting it right, no telling which.” And I cried, because I don’t know which. I don’t. It changes, day to day.
- On another day, I cracked open a fortune cookie after a takeout lunch, unfolded the scrap of paper inside, and read:“The only way to enjoy anything in life is to earn it first.”
- A week later I went somewhere I’d never been before and left with new friends, and then I went somewhere I’d been often and found it seemed to welcome me for the first time. The next day I sat down in the office with a pen and a notebook and I spent all day doing work I was proud of, and when I left for the night I thanked those around me for the opportunity.
This isn’t the kind of blog post I meant to write after so much silence. I guess I just hope it’s the kind of post that you needed to read. Perhaps you, like me, tend to live in the Where You’re Going and forget to enjoy the Where You Are. And maybe you must always be moving forward, because getting what you want will always, must always, be a gradual process. I’m not even sure there is a What You Want, not that doesn’t morph once you’ve reached it.
But in all that reaching and staying hungry and letting your dreams evolve, don’t ever forget that you’ve made it. Wherever you are now, you’ve made it to there, and that’s no small thing. That’s something to be proud of.
You’ve made it.