Saturday, July 11, 2009

I haven't written yet about the events leading up to my departure from New Jersey.
Since today, I got what I think was my very last fuck-you from New Jersey, I guess it seems appropriate/safe to start writing about it. (I tend to believe I can only blog about topics with tension, that involve other people, when time has elapsed.)
Where does it all begin? I once said that after my 24th birthday, things got crazy. At one point, while being melodramatic right before my 25th birthday, I said that I "wasted" my 24th year. (Or would it be my 25th? I don't know.) That I just made a lot of bad decisions and should have known better.
I do remember that, on my 24th birthday, I sat down and made a list of things I wanted to accomplish and made this very organized, very anal retentive plan of how I would spend my days to accomplish these things. The plan included suggestions like, "Spend 15 minutes a day reviewing notes for all classes, instead of stressing out and spending an entire evening on one class." and "Spend 15 minutes a day on a craft project." This wasn't just for fun; this was things like, "Make that purse that you've had the pattern for since 2005, for Jamie's next birthday." (Sorry Jamie. Now you know you're getting a purse someday.) This was a time when I was setting the oven timer for myself so I would switch between tasks. I actually work well with that kind of structure, but this was a little too much.
It was never to be, in any case. Two days after my 24th birthday, I went for a walk in the woods with someone who'd live in Portland for a good chunk of his twenties* and maybe things began then, because I think that conversation sort of let me think about what I really wanted in life...at least the "twenties" part of my life...and here I am, fifteen months later, in Portland. With the future really, really uncertain.
At the end of May, with a graduation I did not attend (I went to work instead...let's reflect on that later) in the past, I set out on my first cross-country road trip. The trip of which I had been dreaming for ten years. Since 13, I had wanted to drive across the country. I would try to enlist my friends, suggesting dates like "when we graduate high school." So, my idea of traveling companions may have changed; the milestone may have changed, but the dream persisted. And so I found myself, two months after my 24th birthday, driving across the desert with a broken heart.
Actually I spent a lot of time debating that one. Some days I would say, "I feel GREAT and it's too bad because 'with a broken heart' would really make this a good story!" And some days...really nights...I would stare out the window and think how the road, especially the desert at night (I'm looking at YOU, Arizona east of Holbrook on I-40), was such a lonely place.
My heart ached for a lot of things over the next year; frequently it was a home. The idea of home and the home I left behind when Mary and I backed down the steep driveway of 59 Suydam Street, New Brunswick, waved goodbye to my roommate, and headed West.
I had a lot of good parties in the little house where I lived by myself in the town whose working title, for now, will be Pretentiousville or The Fakest Place Ever**, but none of it compares to how much love and life I poured into--or experienced--while living at 59 Suydam Street. Maybe this is because I half-assed a lot of things in Pretentiousville. I think there was a point where I gave up on it being home. I think this actually made me happier, because I stopped trying and longing for something that wasn't going to be.
Anyway, I say "left behind" because when I returned from the West, the home was completely changed. It wasn't a home anymore. (But I think even in that shabby state, even with the pouting and conflict that would ensue over the remaining summer months, it was still more home than Pretentiousville.) Maybe that's when things changed.
I could go chronologically, and I could talk about how the first week back from the road, I had to pretty much fight with work for the ability to take time off--unpaid--to go to a conference and present my research poster. Which had been nominated for an award. It's not like I was begging time off to go sit on a beach and get drunk. I could talk about how after getting that award, I was treated infinitely better and began to think this was the place I belonged. I think I can finally talk about my last weeks in New Brunswick without feeling that terrible, tearing feeling that would come back to me, as fresh as if it were a new wound, each time I revisited those events and feelings. How between Thanksgiving and New Year's, I really believed I was home (and this is when I went shopping with wild abandon, stocking up on large amounts of pantry staples.) And then right after New Year's, being a spectator to a sexual assault trial took me out of my own life and I was able to see it from another perspective. I really think that's when I saw what was wrong. It was like waking up from a dream.
But this is probably a good place to end for now. I think the story should come out in pieces, not all at once.
Now I have been thinking about home--what defines a home? I think one thing's for sure--a place isn't home if people rip up your pansies! (No, I'm not being figurative.)


*This is standing in for "a few more than a few...five? a number of...no that sounds like ten or more...eight? seven? ????? years."
** Yes, it contained some fake people, snobbery, and pretention. But take this title with a grain of salt; I'm just bitter at this moment.

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