Into the Great Wide Open.
The night before I left for California – leaving nearly everyone and everything I had ever known behind – we slept at my friend Matt’s house. Cassidy had flown from California to New Jersey – to accompany me to fly back to California. My friend Matt offered to take us to the airport painfully early the next morning. He was the last friendly, familiar face I saw on the east coast before I went into the great wide open. I woke up the night before several times – with anxiety that deep breathing couldn’t really touch – so I read and wrote and fretted until it passed.
On my first night in California, I sat on
Cassidy’s our couch and turned up my sister’s radio station on the computer. What a treat being able to hear her rich radio voice 3,000 miles away – on a laptop and not on my car’s radio dial. She told me to tune in for a request. My friend Nora requested it and dedicated it to me. I heard it and that’s when I finally started to cry.
My friend Nora. She’s in Paris this week. We used to spend nearly every day together and even traveled together. She used to visit here and I used to visit there, until life took over. That great wide open nearly swallowed us whole. I didn’t think we’d drift, but somehow it finds a way. It’s like there’s a force that threatens to swallow you whole – taking bits and pieces and dreams right from and off of you – spitting you back as something completely different from before.
I’ve been having feelings and thoughts lately about adulthood. All the funny memes about how adulthood is hard – and it’s like you’re a ball in a pinball machine being hit left and right, up and down, trying desperately not to fall down the hole. I prefer to think of it instead as a wild ride full of expectations and unexpectations and speeding so fast and so spontaneously this way and that – that you get that feeling in your stomach and you can’t quite ever catch your breath.
Adulthood takes you into the great wide open. It’s not just that I’m not a Hollywood movie star with a perfect husband and three perfect kids and two perfect coastal houses – with whales out my front door. It’s not just that I’m not a household name – yet – and I haven’t sold exactly 17 screenplays and 17 bestsellers. Oh no – it’s not just that. And it’s not that I’m not 100% healthy and not everyone I know and love finds themselves and lives to 110. I can handle those nots. I can certainly handle being a writer, photographer, mama, dog owner, cat owner, and chicken farmer. (but kinda barely) And I can handle having a husband in love with me and kids that are super bickery but also super kind. And they don’t have devices, and won’t until they’re 50.
What I can’t handle is not even having known that devices would be such an issue. For us all. What I wasn’t prepared for wasn’t not following all my dreams. Heck, I’m still in my 30s. I can do a lot. I just never factored in mental illness, or this insanely scary political climate, and climate climate. It’s not that the great wide open of adulthood didn’t give me everything I could ever have wanted – yet – it’s that I never prepared myself for overwhelming (at times) mental illness, and how that would make me feel about and react to the scary aspects of the world. Both the ones that were there back then, the ones that were simmering to an almost boil all this time anyway, and the ones that have blindsided us all. That’s where I falter and that’s where I wonder.
I want to believe so badly in that great wide open – with room for me and my sometimes dark, often light, always complex thoughts. Vast skies of northern lights and possibility. That family business I want to own, and this family to expand (pets count too). A world of opening and chances and choices – in which our liberties aren’t stripped away and in which the good guys win. I want to believe in me and my weird brain and all of you and all of your weird brains. And not to think of the great wide open as a place beneath us to fall into, but rather something above us that we stretch and hope to grow into – never pushing too hard or too fast at once.
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FTSF) for another great prompt. This week’s topic is “Vast. (a photo prompt)” And there’s still time to write yours. Link up your post HERE.