I started this blog back in July of 2008 with the express intent to write about life from a positive viewpoint. A recovered depressive still too inclined to sleep too much and avoid emotional risks, I needed this unofficial platform to publicly say “hey, life is good- even if I have to force myself to admit it.”
The following winter tested my positivity. Anyone who’s continued to read my thoughts might have done so out of appreciation for my “confessional style,” but not because I was Miss Cheery. I’ve waited for everyone to give up on me as boring and lacking spunk. Or worse, that I’d cross that line from “sort of blue” into actual “never leave my bedroom” depression.
I knew the minute I got here that Buffalo was a one-way train ticket to Depressionville. I knew I’d struggle with that Lake Erie wind, the widespread poverty, the limited entertainment. I was ready to go last March. I’d only come here to help my mom out and get my own bearings. But as though they had discussed it together, my English boyfriend and my mom both asked me to stay. They each said they thought I’d be happiest if I stayed, and my boyfriend wanted me to wait for him here. I was so astonished that two people who loved me so much could ask me to stay someplace so horrid, that I thought I must be missing something obvious. I applied for a part-time job here, and got it. A few months later I was a full-time Program Director and hanging pictures on the walls.
I committed a crime against myself, the day I applied for that part-time admin job. We all do it, all the time: we let other people tell us what’s right for us. It doesn’t matter how much someone loves you, how close they hold your interests to their heart, how good their intentions. If your reason and your heart tell you something is wrong for you, and you don’t act on that knowledge… you wind up a year later, like me, with so little to show for it.
It’s taken me this long to circle back and do March right. Since September, I’ve talked to people in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, even England and Italy, about living in one of those cities. Nothing clicked, nothing was doable. Finally, a few weeks ago, my eyes fell on the “other cities” list on Craigslist, and I remembered…
My friend Uke had suggested I’d probably like Austin, Texas, last spring. A friend of a friend recently had, as well. I always wrote it off as “too far south,” “too hot,” “too Texas,” like we all do when an idea comes out of nowhere and we’re not ready to entertain it… But really, could anything be “too Texas” after living here?
I put an ad on the Austin Craigslist for a room for rent, talked to several cool people, agreed on a room near downtown Austin. Tomorrow, I fly down there with my suitcases and my bunny.
I don’t have much of a plan. I’ll look for web design and admin work simultaneously while I get started. I’ll explore. And I’ll reach out to people at every given opportunity. Since arriving in Buffalo, I’ve been so afraid of falling in love with someone who might tempt me to stay, I’ve barely tried to socialize. I took the friendship my brother’s group offered, while it was available, and hardly fought for it when it wasn’t. I clung to Mr. Hotness and the DF, who both lived so far away.
I went out the other night to mark my last weekend in Buffalo, and five people joined me, including my brother and a friend who only showed up at the end of the night. We all had lots of fun, I’m glad we got to spend that Saturday night together, as we have so many others over the past year, but I couldn’t help but think… “what have I been doing all this time? No one even cares I’m leaving.”
I don’t say it bitterly. I can look back on every relationship and see points where I could have reached out and instead withdrew. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be here, not fully, and not well. And that’s on me. And that’s okay.
It’s a lesson, from an incredible year, that’s left me tougher, less inclined to doubt myself, and in the end, proud that it only took me a year to shake off the blues and take another chance on something… somewhere.
It’s happening at the right time, as my brother moves into his own apartment, and my mom spends time with my dad in California. We’re each finally ready to do our own thing.
Everyone I’ve talked to about Austin describes a bigger version of Portland, Oregon- liberal and hippie-arty. I think about the warm weather and get tingles of guilty excitement, like I’m going on an undeserved vacation. I’m bringing my sundresses, and leaving my sweaters. I’m going to show some skin… and more important, I’m going to show some heart. I didn’t give Buffalo enough- it’s a mistake I won’t make again.
I’m glad that Candi and Dawn and I got to spend the time together that we did. I’m glad our friend Chris shared so many nights of board games and beers with us. I’m glad I got to design websites and gossip with coworkers and go rowing on the pond with the DF. I’m glad Mr. Hotness and I got to share Niagara- that goes in the book of unforgettable. I’m glad I got to meet my brother’s girlfriend, an intelligent, funny woman who I suspect will be an important part of his future. And I’m glad my mom and brother and I got to grow, together, becoming a different kind of family, learning together about relationships and love… and just gabbing. What we accomplished together, emotionally, happened for sad reasons- but I think it was worth it.
I think it was worth it. That might be the biggest lesson I’ll take from the B-flo experience: taking the wrong fork in the road brings its own adventure.
What adventure will this next fork bring?