November 15, 2016 marked two years ‘post service’.
When I was 9 years old I got my ears pierced for the second time. My uncle Rudy is a man who thinks he’s hilarious, and when I was little it was 50/50 as to whether I agreed. After I got my second ear piercings I remember going to see them for a visit and my Uncle making such a big deal out of my earrings, asking how life was ‘post piercing.’ I rolled my eyes in the way only a 9 year old can and said things were just the same. Now I find myself back in a post-something phase. We have them so frequently. Post-college, post-breakup, post-giant life event. Well, now I’m post-Peace Corps. Quite past it, in fact.
I called my sister the other day, panicking about life and adulthood. I’m lucky to have her around to understand when I get to that place, and she coined a cute name for the illness she and I have. “We’re circus folk,” she said. I call it my ‘Gypsy soul,’ but it amounts to about the same thing. When the North Wind blows just right I can feel it and every bone in my body is ready to leave. When things get rough or complicated I have the impulse of a startled cat. When things are stable (read: boring) I feel like a caged bird. It’s like a sickness. Sometimes it has nothing to do with my surroundings and more to do with an urge to see everything.
There was a small seed of that in me before Peace Corps, and then I embarked on this grand adventure and it sprouted into a tree. I’m basically Bilbo Baggins. I didn’t know I wanted an adventure until I went on one, and then I came home and settled down for a while and now I want to go back out and find Smaug again.
But you can’t just go fight dragons whenever you please. Apparently that’s some rule to growing up and ‘settling down.’ In order to better prepare for all of the larger, long term things I want in life I have to establish myself in a place. Because I want kid(s) and a life partner and a career I can’t leave whenever I please. I always knew this might happen one day, but I didn’t expect it to be so hard. I’ve spent most of my life wandering like a nomad and, while I certainly see the benefit of hearth and home, sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m not built quite like that.
I have a great apartment in Portland, a city in which I chose to live. There’s rain and autumn and really good coffee here. (Thanks, America.) I live with my partner and our 2 cats, all of whom I love wholly. We have a plant I haven’t killed yet. I have a job doing really hard but ultimately really rewarding work at a Domestic Violence Intervention Agency. I’m well established in my field and getting more contacts all the time, setting myself up for a good life in a good career doing good work. I’m contributing to society in a way that makes me able to sleep at night but still pay my bills. Sure, things get stressful at work and houses are better than apartments, but nothing about my life is bad. In fact it’s all rather great. So why would anyone want anything different? How could anyone ask for more?
Some people see this impulse as running away. Some people see it as flighty and immature. Some people live their whole lives like this and never really have anything of substance. I would love to find a way to live the balance. To place more value on experiences than things. But the experiences themselves come at a cost, both fiscally and otherwise. Eventually you have to sit still and that, in turn, becomes a compromise. You have to decide what pieces you keep and what you leave behind and then you have to learn how to live with those decisions.
Ultimately I think I’ve set myself up with enough fail safes to keep me grounded. I have a partner who understands that sometimes I just need to go away. I am able to leave and have my mini-adventures and then come back to my home. If I can find a way to infuse more into my life, I will, but for starting out I think I’ve done pretty ok.