You know that moment just before you fall, but you catch yourself? Your whole body is being thrown forward, but somehow you slip your feet past your flailing body and stumble into a shuffle of safety. That's where I'm at. I was off track, and I'm slowly and steadily stumbling onto the right one.
Four years ago almost to the day, I moved back to my hometown of sunny and small St. Augustine, FL. I'd been living in the misty and hipster-filled pacific northwest (aka Portland, OR), and desperately missed my family and sunshine. Living in Portland was fun and intensely meaningful: I'd moved there to be with my long-distance boyfriend (who became my husband #win), landed my first job in publishing (using my college degree #win), and was part of an awesome running community (logged two marathons #win) – but I felt so lost. Portland wasn't my place. I'd never felt less me. I tried convincing myself that I could love it, embracing the coffee culture, craft beer, and a closet full of plaid. Yet every day that went by I felt more distant from myself. I was sacrificing my happiness and individuality for a place and a person. I didn't know where I wanted to go, but my heart ached for cloudless skies and warmth on my face.
But of course moving home wasn't easy. Family and old friends had their own routines that I was no longer a part of. My sister even forgot to invite me to her son's 6th birthday party. I'd left home eight years prior, and in eight years I became a voice on a phone and rarely a girl in person. It was heartbreaking. Even the ocean and sun lost its luster. It felt painfully hot outside and the ocean especially dangerous. But as time went on, and my body acclimated to the humidity, I started feeling like my little-kid self again. I started wishing and wanting all the things I did as an angsty teen: to travel, write, listen to more music, dress for myself. As my favorite movie heroine Sabrina once said, "I went for long walks and I met myself in Paris" – in my case, St. Augustine.
Without moving home I don't think I would've found the courage to take real steps forward to find the right path. I'm somehow thirty years old and seventeen all at the same time. When I look in the mirror I instantly feel and look older, but it's like the younger girl is cheering me on behind my eyes, and I desperately don't want to let her down. I think I'm still stumbling a bit, but my misstep is slowly turning into a catch-myself-from-falling ascent. I can't wait to see where the destination is.
This was September's MR Writers Club submission for the topic: A Time You Went (Way) Off Track.