In a few short days, my son and I will be in LA. My sister texted, “Leaving your surroundings will be good for your soul.” She’s probably right. This week has been too quiet. I feel lost. Without work, without deadlines, I’m not sure what to do. I have too much time to think. The project I’ve been working on the last few months is wrapping up. I turned in my last story a week ago. Something will take its place soon, but for now, I’m kind of on my own.
I’ve been wondering what I want to do with my life. There was a time where the short, simple answer to that question was write-a-book. Now I’m not so sure. It seems like a vain and pointless effort. If I were younger and unattached and not somebody’s mom, I think I might join the Peace Corps. Or go to Africa with these folks. There’s something about the last year that has changed who I am and who I want to be. I know it’s been a combination of things, a layering of cancer and mortality and simply surviving. Like all things in life, it’s complicated — but what I feel, what I’ve become, that’s very real. I’m no longer on the same path.
I look around and I am comforted by what is familiar, by what feels safe. And yet I know all of it is fluid and changing. Nothing lasts forever. Life doesn’t move in a straight line, it moves in circles, eventually bringing you back to places you have already been. Relationships evolve, there’s that constant ebb and flow, what matters now might mean nothing in a year. Or it might mean everything. I don’t know what I want, what I’m hoping for, but I don’t think I’m going to find it in the places I’ve already been looking.
My son has big plans for our week in LA. He has a life in California, it is his other home. He falls into it with such ease. And I am grateful for that. The big questions I wrestle with, the unknowns I hope to somehow uncover, I have no idea how or where to begin. It’s easy to settle into the old routines, to just keep doing what we always do. That’s what happens, right? It’s so hard — impossible, maybe — to act on our longings, our desires. We just keep doing what we always do. I’ll never join the Peace Corps. Or go to Africa. But maybe there’s something else.
We talk in circles about the future, about what is possible, or not possible. But for a few minutes last night my husband and I talked about it in real words, attaching real dreams and ideas, and it felt hopeful and good. Sunday morning we’ll board a plane and fly home. My son will bask in the admiration of his LA people and, for a few short days, we will settle into familiar routines. We’ve carved out a pretty wonderful life — this bicoastal thing we do — but I see the balance beginning to shift. I really don’t know what the future holds, but I’d like to think there’s a promise in there somewhere. A chance to start something new.
In the meantime, California, I’m coming home.