Today, a guest post by the lovely Andrea…
When I left NYC and moved back to Texas, I was unemployed and everything I owned minus a bed fit into the back of a minivan. As I crossed a bridge whose name escapes me – there’s always a bridge involved – I thought, “how anticlimactic.” I should’ve cried, or immediately felt the need to puke, I should’ve had a strong reaction to this sudden and abrupt change in my life. But nothing happened. It wasn’t sudden or abrupt, as I’d spent an entire year planning it out. Nope, it was deliberate and wonderful and I was going to savor those homemade potato chips that I bought on the side of the road in Amish Country, PA. To take that much time planning a move was a luxury to my exhausted self. I was in charge of my life, a fact that shouldn’t have been such a novelty.
My parents asked me why I decided to move back, my friends were just as curious, and to both I gave roughly the same answer. I needed something different, I wanted to be close to family, I didn’t think I would find my career, I knew I wouldn’t live there forever, etc, etc. Those were honest answers, but only the small ones. The big reason was that I wanted to settle down. I was ready to date someone that wasn’t aspiring to be anything other than ordinary. No would-be actors, novelist, artists, philosophers, no bon vivants or dabbling musicians. Sure they could have an interest in those things, I believe they’re called hobbies, but I was done with the endless hypothetical careers. I wasn’t trying to crush their dreams, but maybe a yard and a retirement plan weren’t such horrible things after all. And in keeping up with this honesty motif, would it have been so terrible that they have the ability to talk about those hobbies in tandem with video games and sports. Couldn’t we discuss the merits of GTA as commentary on societal norms in regards to women and the entrepreneurial spirit that illegal activities denote? As difficult as it was to admit, I knew that was my reason.
I was independent, I took care of myself, I didn’t need a partner, and actively deciding to find one should have fit that narrative. Rather than wait for it to happened like I was living in a rom-com, I was going to make the decision to allow that to happen. I was going to place myself in a new place and tell the Universe that my five-year plan had finally reached the point where it was acceptable that I entertain a serious commitment of some sort. But I didn’t feel that way. It felt like a self-induced betrayal. I felt ridiculous and needy, all the things that I didn’t want to be. At that point in my life, I was actively trying not to be the endearing but forever clueless girl, not because I wasn’t that, but because I found it offensive. And unless I ask my closest friends, I’m pretty sure I’ll never really know the truth on that matter. Either way, to express the desire to find a partner felt inappropriate, but to move, to leave such a city for the possibility – not even a guarantee – well that was crazy, right?
Three years out, I question my move daily, usually during traffic on the way to my office job in a field that I’m not particularly devoted to, but one that I find interesting. Did I really need to leave my friends? Do I annoy my parents with my Sunday lunch & laundry visits? Were the casual relationships I started here worth the trouble? Were they any different than what I left behind? Yes and no. In my search for the ordinary partner, I decided that my own ordinariness was in severe need of attention. I had to relearn what it meant to live in a small town, and that saying good morning or hello to strangers in passing wasn’t as silly as I remembered. I had to learn that any city offers some kind of culture and delicious food and good people watching, and that Ordinary with a Plan can lead to surprising things, which can lead to what you wanted all along.
It’s like that time when I worked across the way from a flower shop. I became friends with one of the guys that worked there and in exchange for chocolate, he would give me a bouquet of too old to sell flowers. I would take them home and arrange them in a drinking glass and leave them until the petals started to fall off. It was about five months into this before I remembered my younger self telling my mom that I would always have fresh flowers when I grew up and had my own apartment. What a surprise it was to find that it came true.
Andrea Martinez is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and currently lives in Dallas with her rescue dog Ulysses. She dabbles in a little of this and a little of that.