Let’s take a painfully overused metaphor and hit it with a dead Shetland pony, shall we?
Say life is a river. You have two choices: Flow gracefully around the boulders and keep moving merrily downstream. Or get caught in front of a rock until you’ve created a stagnant cesspool of slimy moss and broken twigs, trapping innocent carp until they’re ready to sue you for emotional damage. I guess I have a thing for cesspools. Not only do I stop and make everything slimy, I clamber onto the biggest boulder and have an in-depth and often rambling conversation with it. So now I’m not only stalled, I’m not even in the river any more.
Stop talking to boulders, Amber.
Failed relationships are boulders. How the bastards at the SF parking department held my car hostage again is a boulder. How I don’t know how to start something so I’ll just think about not starting until despair sets in. Boulders, boulders, boulders.
I’m getting better about moving past them. One of the benefits of 2012: The Year Where a Lot of Shit Happened, is that I concretely demonstrated my ability to step up. Because when life decides to kick you in the ass, you rise to the challenge. You have no choice. So you rally, you throw down, and you cope. Since life has become gentler and I again have the luxury of over-thinking and being a pussy about minor inconveniences, I can at least recall a time when I threw down and coped. There’s comfort in this.
On Sunday, I’m moving back to Los Angeles. I hadn’t even officially started the hunt – my LA vs SF pros and cons list only had three things on it - when a perfect apartment in Santa Monica fell from the sky (Facebook) and landed in my lap. It has lots of warm LA light, hardwood floors, and my bedroom window faces the sunset. I can step out the door, walk four blocks, and land on the beach.
That’s what my bedroom window looks like. Shut up. You’d be smug too.
Before I decided where to land, I dated like a fiend. Because online dating is one of the few institutions that allows pictures of shirtless and disturbingly shiny men to land in your inbox on a regular basis. Sandwiched between the oily abs and incomprehensible grammar are men who send haikus about Duct Apes, change your car battery when it dies, and sound remarkably like Alan Alda while they’re saying amusing things to you. It’s fun. Except when you realize that you’re meeting a whole string of awesome possibilities and you just signed a lease six hours south.
For a few weeks, I felt torn. Awesome men in San Francisco versus awesome apartment in LA. Through all my solo traveling last year, I realized that people are more important to me than places. Love is more important than locale. But I’ve also learned that I need to give myself what I need because that’s the only way I can fully show up for the people in my life.
DAMN YOU, WORLD, AND YOUR PLETHORA OF OPTIONS.
I’m really into this whole “Follow your own inner guidance” thing, the one so encouraged by therapists and earth mothers and people who throw around the word goddess a little too freely for my tastes. Turns out, anxiety and insecurity yell a whole lot louder than “inner guidance.” So I spent the month of January practicing hearing the things in my head that aren’t screaming at me. I did this by chanting the little phrase that popped into my head the day three things happened: I accepted the apartment in LA, met one amazing guy, then somehow managed to meet another amazing guy. After a day of questioning all my life choices, I banged my head on the steering wheel and this shook loose:
“Trust in the flow of your life.”
So I whispered it to myself over and over and over with what might be defined as rising hysteria, stopping only to be glad I was in my car and not on public transportation because I sounded like a crazy person. I am a crazy person but that’s no excuse for sounding like one.
What do you do about options? You stop beating your head against some obstacle that you won’t even remember once you’ve moved past it. You guide yourself down the river, but allow the uncertainty to swing you toward something that might be even better than what you hoped for. As much as I love San Francisco, LA is right for me at this point in my life. I was happy and healthy and creative and there was regular goddamn sunshine. All I wanted as I crawled through the last few months of 2012 was a little place by the beach where I could put down roots, maybe not forever but certainly for now. And it climbed into my lap and started purring. Yes, I want to find my lobster. But the only way to do that is to continue living the life that’s best for me. Because the story is always unfolding – and the more rocks I flow past, the faster it unfurls.