Sometimes you have to move back to move forward.
Remember high school physics? The teacher claimed that an object at rest will stay at rest, while an object in motion will stay in motion (unless acted upon by some outside force; see Newton’s Law of Inertia). Considering the past two years of my life, I have to say Newton was certainly on to something.
At the end of 2009, I had the opportunity to do something that I had never seriously considered before: leave home.
I know a lot of people accomplish this right out of high school, when they go off to college. I chickened out. Not only did I enroll in a college in my home state (the former Massachusetts Communications College in Boston, now the New England Institute of Art in Brookline), but I decided (kind of at the last minute, too) that I’d rather take a year off and work instead. I was scared shitless of taking the train into the city, spending the day with a bunch of strange people in a strange place, and taking the train back home—all by my lonely, 17-year-old self.
Maybe you can’t relate to this feeling. Maybe you’ve always been one to jump at a new adventure. Or maybe you couldn’t stand your parents and couldn’t wait to get away. I, on the other hand, would sacrifice happiness, freedom, friends, education—anything!—if it kept me comfortable, someplace safe.
After living at home for four more years (then living with Dad’s girlfriend for another three years after “home” got sold), my sister and I got our own place … two towns west of our hometown.
My sister and I had the condo for about two and a half years when we came to an impasse. We don’t usually see eye-to-eye, but this time, I wasn’t willing to roll over. She issued an ultimatum: get over it, or get out. She agreed that if I left, she’d buy me out.
So I took my money and ran.
I moved to Texas without a job, friends, or any plan beyond ‘if I don’t like it there, I can go someplace else.’ It was the single most liberating thing I’ve ever done in my life.
Within three weeks, I had a new job, new friends, and the glimmer of a plan. After three road trips and ten months in Texas, I decided I wanted to live in North Carolina (have I mentioned I’m a NASCAR fan?). So I moved to Charlotte.
Unfortunately, I lost my momentum. I had quit my job a couple of months before moving to NC, and could only afford to stay for a month. I had been looking for a new job, but I ran out of money before that happened. So I tucked my tail between my legs and slinked home. (This wasn’t literal. I went to my Dad’s house, which is in NY, not MA, so I wasn’t actually home.)(Nor do I have a tail.)
Without that momentum, I fell back into my stagnant tendency … for over a year. Again, I found myself without happiness, freedom, friends, education …
Until my father issued me an ultimatum. He finally told me I had two months to get out.
And suddenly, my life is moving again. Also, I can finally relate this post to the opening sentiment.
I’m going Home.
I’m moving back to Massachusetts in order to get my life moving forward. I’ll most likely be going back to work at my last job before I left, and I’ll be moving in with a friend who lives in the same town I have already spent 15 years of my life in.
It may sound like a step back (especially if you measure from my independent life in Texas), but if you measure from my year and a half of unemployment, and my 14 months living in my father’s guest room, it’s a step (or two) forward.
Besides, in MA, I’ll have a job, friends … and I have a plan.
So here I am, moving back to move forward and building momentum again.