“An adage will say home’s nothing more than a place to hang our hat. A place of peace, comfort, safety –sure– I can attest to that. When all is grim, chaotic, or lost and it all seems to fall apart. Home is the key, at least for me, a place for a brand new start.” JSM
Having lived in numerous locations in my forty plus years, I can’t truly say I’ve ever had a “home” or ever felt at home. Anywhere. Ever.
When I moved out out my parents place at seventeen (the only time I truly had a home), I have “lived” or taken residency in eighteen (maybe upwards of twenty) different places in my local area.
Living with a parent, after their divorce and before graduation (shortly before deciding to go it alone), my father and I lived in three locations. Wow… when I actually try to count them all now, I get lost and confused on just how many places I’ve actually “hung my hat.”
My current home has been five years, and the house I once paid a mortgage during the old life equaled five years. That’s ten years total in two locations… adding in all the others, the math gets messy and the recollections become weird and jumbled.
Always bouncing. Always relocating. Migrating. Always keeping stuff packed away and never fully setting up shop. Always looking for something more convenient, bigger, or closer; always attempting to keep up with the Joneses. Always on the search for the better bang for the buck. Life was about competition, pushing boundaries and living on the hard edge. Life was fast, chaotic, and stretched to the absolute limit.
Not life. Merely living. Existing. Life is meant to be enjoyed. In hindsight, I did NOT enjoy my old life and I can say that with conviction. I just lived in it. I existed within my perception of what I believed was the true definition of “life.”
I didn’t know I didn’t enjoy it, until it was almost too late. In the old life I adjusted accordingly and was accustomed to the lifestyle through a sink or swim mentality. After a time, it become conditioned. “This is the way it’s supposed to be.”
“Just go with the flow. That seems to be the way to go.”
I had friends and family whose company I sought. Good people who made life more pleasant from time to time and took that edge away from the constant chaos. Unfortunately, after those brief moments of peace, it was always back to the rough and hectic lifestyle.
Looking back, I try to see the good and positive in my old life, but frequently come up short.
My children being the obvious exception, and the few friends I’ve retained along the way.
Part of my issues with trying to recognize the positives of the old life, is the fact I never had the opportunity to discover who I was as a person. Nothing defined me. I never had a moment to develop. My self evolution ground to a halt and everything turned stagnant and as stale as a ten year old cracker. I didn’t have any hobbies. I had no focal points. Just meandering through it all like a zombie. I was following the crowd, riding coattails, paying attention to what was considered trendy and popular and listening to all the wrong people. I participated in activities that were suggested to me without ever once giving them any second thought.
“Jere, you should do this, and that, and join everyone in “this” activity.
Is “this” really for me? Do I truly want to be involved in “this”?
“Sure. OK. I guess I’ll give it a whirl. If you guys say it’s the thing to do, and claim it’s fun, who am I to say otherwise?”
Boy was I wrong. Damn it all… I was so very wrong. So much time wasted. So many opportunities slipped through the fingers. I say again… damn… it… all.
I had infrequent moments during the old life where I thought I enjoyed it. Feet up, resting in the recliner. Eyes closed, a book sprawled across my chest, a small smile on my face and feeling comfortable. “Ahhh. This is the life.”
But in retrospect, it wasn’t my life. Only a momentary period of mental respite. Not living.
I tried to live. I tried to be what others wanted me to be. Indeed I tried.
I wanted to live up to the expectations of other human beings. I wanted to fit in, blend in, join in and enjoy it.
I failed. I had the inability to see life the way others saw it.
Thank the good lord above, I failed tremendously.
My failures are what reignited a rediscovery of self. I had to learn how to fail, and fail, and fail, and fail, and be OK with it, in order to locate something that resembled an inkling of success. I had to lose, in order to gain any substantial ground. I still have my daily battles and life struggles, but now I tackle them with a smile on my face.
Still learning how to live MY life. Still learning how to grow as a person. Still learning in general.
I will always be learning. I welcome the challenge with wide open arms.
It took a cataclysm to find things out about myself. My thresholds. My tolerances. What I wanted in life and what should be discarded from it. What are those things I can do away with, and what it is I can’t live without. Unbeknownst to me, I didn’t know what any of that was as I sat in that driveway and wiped the fatigue from my eyes.
I may have woken from slumber and a vivid dream, but I had yet to wake up.
I turned off the car and clipped the leash to Shelby’s collar. She nosed around the driveway and sniffed out an area to claim as her own, and I gave her the space she needed to finish her nightly business. I looked around the property and came to the conclusion I had no desire to engage with family, feel their pity, and tell me everything would be alright. The urge to drive away caused me to second guess my decision.
Instead of walking up the steps and knocking on the door, the two of us wandered the property and found ourselves out behind the house near the fire pit. The coals and charred debris had long since dwindled and were cold to the touch, but an overwhelming need to start a fire and stare into the flames grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go.
It was peaceful out there in the back yard. The late summer wind rustled through the trees high overhead and we could hear the scurrying of woodland critters darting to and fro around us in the brush along the outskirts.
“What do you think, Shelby, want to go inside?”
She sat down in defiance beside a lawn chair and looked up to me.
“Yeah me either. Let’s get out of here.”
We crept through the yard, keeping our attention away from the windows and returned to the driveway and as my hand reached for the door handle a voice broke through the silence of the night. “It’s about time! Don’t think I wasn’t watching you tip toe around out there. Where are you going? Get your ass in here!”
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Everything within me told me to leave and continue driving to places unknown, but hey… it was family.
I decided to get my ass inside.
Once in the home, the dam burst. I allowed every tear I had stored up over the months to flow free. I may have even cried myself to sleep that night in their living room.
The new beginning to a new journey.
Another brand new start.
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