Seven Years Later...

Seven years ago this weekend I was in my favorite city, Washington DC. On July 3, I watched Barry Bostwick rehearse for the July 4 evening extravagannnnza (which I skipped to watch fireworks with my niece). That weekend, I sat on the steps at Lincoln's feet in the pink haze of evening while Marine One (or possibly Two) buzzed the mall. I visited with family, hung out at various tourist spots, saw parts of the city that I hadn't seen before.

And recognized that I didn't want to go home.

Standing under the awning at Union Station in a surprise rainstorm, I realized I was in that city to pursue the wrong dream. I had aimed toward a really wonderful life. An honorable life. A life that I still respect and admire. But not the right life for me.

I didn't want to go "home" to a place that I wasn't comfortable in, to a house I wasn't comfortable in, to live with people I wasn't comfortable with. I should clarify: this "not comfortable" was not the good kind of "not comfortable," not the kind of "not comfortable" that challenges you to stretch in positive ways or learn new skills that make your soul larger. It was the other kind of "not comfortable," the opposite kind. I was under constant pressure to be less of the parts of myself I cherished and more of the parts of myself I disliked.

Sadly, much of this insight is available to me only in retrospect. I went home confused and unhappy. I'd been confused and unhappy for years, but now I knew I was, and I knew that I knew. I couldn't go back to pretending that everything was fine and I could figure life out and make it work.

It took some time for me to see that if I didn't pursue the two dreams I'd had since childhood -- living near our family paradise and pursuing creative writing seriously -- I would die spectacularly unhappy, and (far worse) I would take others down with me.

Fast-forward through a lot of pain and paperwork, and here I am, living right at our family paradise and writing. Many elements of this life I predicted; most are surprises. But I'm home. Here, I'm both challenged and supported to grow, and I am allowed to do the same for others. This life may not be perfect, but it's perfect for me.

I've been back to Washington since, and I will go again. It's a special place to me, and my relationship with the city isn't finished yet. But I am, and will always be, so very very grateful for that weekend seven years ago, the one that helped me come home.