Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blowing in the Wind

It's pretty fitting that it was a comment from my dad that led me to write my 30-before-30 list and it was also a comment from my dad that led me to abandon it.

My mom is irreplaceable because she'll spend hours wading in the minutiae with me, discussing and analyzing and looking at the Subject of the Day from every angle. My dad is irreplaceable because he'll come in, without ever hearing 95% of the minutiae, and spit some truth so potent I often wonder if he was eavesdropping the entire time. (He wasn't--he was watching NASCAR in the other room.)

On the way out to camp to learn to shoot over Christmas, my dad mentioned a conversation he'd had with a family friend, who had asked about my life in Chicago: Was I dating? Would I stay there? What was to become of my future?

That last question obviously wasn't verbatim, but tells you a little bit about the tone of this inquiry. Just enough 'concern' to make you wonder what questions weren't being asked: Wasn't I going to settle down? Who would take care of me?

I'm almost 30. I'm single. I'm a writer by trade. In the non-profit sector. And I'm selling my house. I'm basically blowing in the wind. In some parts, that's cause for concern, a life trajectory unknown. Some folks are not so comfortable with that.

Emily McDowell is a greeting card genius.

My dad's answer astounded me.

"We don't worry about Bobbi," he said. "She is going to do what makes her happy. She's not going to get married just to be married. She's going to pursue happiness, and whether that's living alone in an apartment in the city with her dog, or moving to a different country, we're happy for her and will help in any way we can. She's not ever going to settle. And if she's happy, we're happy."

We don't worry about Bobbi.

You know this kills me, right to my core. Not because I want them to worry. Not because I think they don't care, or aren't interested in every twist and turn. And definitely not because I think they've given up on me.

It kills me because it is a simple, prideful statement, one that both of my parents have felt for longer than I could imagine. They believe in me. They don't doubt I'll get the life I want...whatever that looks like. They don't worry when I don't know what it looks like. They trust me when I do.

I've already made them proud. They're just happy I'm pursuing. I am who I am because they encouraged me, and I've already delivered on their dreams for me: the relentless, stubborn, ardent pursuit of what makes me happy.

And they're very good with the reminders. Each year, my mom picks out the perfect Valentine's Day card, painstakingly crossing out each single pronoun and replacing it: We love you, You make us so proud, Happy Valentine's day to you from us. This year, before signing "Love, Mom and Dad", my mom wrote:

"We've said it a thousand times and we'll say it again. We're so proud of you. Keep finding your path in life, and you'll always have family at home to support you."

Keep finding your path.


Looking at what remains on my list, I'm no longer in any rush.

I'd like to have my own kayak, someday.

I'll visit my 6th (and 7th, and 8th, and so on) country, someday.

I'm going to rock the shit out of some Jewel on the guitar, someday.

I'll be completely out of debt, someday.

I don't have any doubts about it. I'm not worried about Bobbi. I'm finding my path.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bobbi Lately

Well, this foot in my mouth tastes...really awful. Like it's been stuffed in a boot for four months OH BECAUSE IT HAS.

Remember what I said as summer was turning to fall? Allow me. Ahem:
"I think there is something to be said for being in a happy place in your life. Namely, that you don't long for other seasons. You can walk gracefully into a new season without worrying if you savored every last drop of the one you're walking out of. As my dad would say, that's clean living.
I am so full of shit sometimes.

I totally savored fall, drank my weight in hot apple cider, wore holes in all my favorite tights, took Henley on epic city sidewalk journeys, kicked my way through piles of crunchy leaves like I was in a goddamn Nora Ephron movie. And I still long for it. Simply because it's not winter.

This winter has taught me that sometimes it doesn't matter what's going on in your life. Sometimes the weather gets a girl down. Sometimes relentless cold and gray and complete sun-deprivation take a toll on even the happiest of campers. It has nothing to do with longing for other times. It has everything to do with the fact that I can't feel my feet. Or my face. Or, at times, my fucking soul. (Ellen, that was for you.)

For real though, something happened this winter that made me feel like I just. could. not. get. warm. Physically or emotionally. I got a little lost. I got a little cranky. I lost sight of the positive, the spring, the forest for the trees. I let the wind and the cold and the salt and the gray drag me down. It's been tough going, and the people who've surrounded me during the womp-womps deserve a medal or at least an adult beverage of their choosing. Seriously, props, guys. Wompy Bobbi is a total drag.

My mantra for the rest of the season is:

Because it's gotta come sometime, right? Because even if right now I don't feel as self-evolved as Albert Camus, there indeed lies within each of us an invincible summer, even in the worst of winters. The trick, I think, to surviving Polar Vortexes both ecological and proverbial is to surround yourself with people who see it in you always, despite your frozen exterior.