Year twenty-four age twenty three: September 2005-2006.
I spent my twenty-third birthday in Boston with my sister, Becky, which is the only time I have ever been there but it was a lovely city. After my internship at Frontier Ranch I traveled for about a month, mostly with friends from that year. Within that month I saw the sunset over the Pacific Ocean and the sunrise over the Atlantic; from San Diego, California to Portland, Maine and many, many places in between.
After that time I moved in with my brother in Kansas City. For a very brief time I worked as a personal trainer but then I realized my unofficial title would be salesperson, so I quit. I wanted so badly to go back to Colorado, but I felt like I needed to have a good reason. I tried to go anyway, after leaving the fitness club, but I just did not have the confidence to start from scratch. I don't know where it came from, this need to have to always be able to explain myself, but it would haunt me even into premarital counseling with my husband. One glorious and surprising gift from this time was that I had many solid and genuine phone conversations with some dear friends who loved me too much to give me answers but gave me unconditional support and encouragement, instead.
So, like I said, I moved back to Kansas City and worked as a server in this restaurant that my uncle's tennis buddy owned. It was a half-hour commute and many people wondered why I wouldn't just get a job closer to my house, but one of the things I dislike most about going home is bumping into people from high school.
I don't remember if it was this year or later but one time I bumped into an old friend at the store and he told me about how he was getting his MBA and working at some fancy place downtown, or something. When I told him I was waiting tables he said, "well, it happens." Just like that. As if my job was a pile of poop in the street that I had stepped into by accident. When I bump into people from high school I always feel like I have five minutes or less to explain each of my personal or career choices in such a way that they will judge me as successful rather than not, and I hate that. Because, let's be honest, it's not like we don't really want people to judge us, we just don't want them to judge us negatively.
After about six months in my hometown I accepted a position to work with my friend, Natalie, from college. She was directing this day camp run by the Navigators and I would be working as a counselor alongside several college students, getting paid a hundred dollars a week. The thing about this job, though, was that it would get me back out to Colorado and I got to live next door to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. I may have been poor, but I was in prime real estate.
Fortunately, I had Natalie and this hippie sort of girl about my age who surprised me by becoming one of my most beloved friends, even to this day. One day Molly, my new friend, and I were riding our bikes together through the Garden. We started cruising down this steep hill and all of a sudden this little chipmunk darted out in front of me, then back a bit, then back in front of my tires to meet its death. That's right, I ran over a chipmunk with my bike. I started screaming the instant I felt the thud, and so did Molly, who was right behind me. Then we stopped at some look-out and she opened up to me about life and loneliness and that's when I really knew that I had friended-up again.
It was at about this point in life that I really started examining the idea of waiting. I went through phases when I was embarrassed to admit that I was waiting for anything but the reality was that I went through years of waiting; for what, I don't exactly know. Maybe I was waiting for a husband but that wasn't all. I was waiting for a lot more than that and all I knew was that I would recognize it when I saw it.
I found in a journal or blog recently that it was around this time, maybe a year earlier, when I first penned the words, "waiting is not a passive thing." That became another mantra in my life and that is one of my favorite things to tell people when I recognize the symptoms in them: confusion, discontentment with their present state, a crossroad of possibilities before them, the simultaneous presence of hope and fear. I think people need to know that it is okay to wait because waiting is just as significant a time in someone's life as anything else. Because a lot of life happens while you wait.
I wonder if most people, if given the chance to really think about it, would choose waiting or floating mindlessly. Because I think that a lot of people go through life mindlessly on auto-pilot because they have reached some false-peak, rather than waiting for the real thing. I don't mean to judge and I am not thinking of anyone in particular, but all I know is that our days are made up of incessant decisions coming at us and that it is easy to arrange it so that we just do the same thing every day based on some decisions we made one day long ago. Even if a girl doesn't know what she is waiting for, I think that waiting is a heroic action.
When I think back on this year I remember people being very excited for me while I was generally scared. I remember saying a lot that choosing one thing means giving up everything else, and feeling that conviction to wait for the right thing. It turns out that life is not so short that you cannot chose different things at different times and I wish I knew to chill out a bit more back then. But during this time I learned the other key ingredient in waiting: active resistance. I feel like it was okay for me to not move out to Colorado if the time was not right for me, or to pass up the opportunity to make more money so that I could have a more fulfilling experience. A lot of the time, waiting means turning down some opportunities so that you are available to take the right one at the right time. In hindsight, I had a lot more time than I thought I did but I learned to give myself a little breathing room and to look at the decisions flying at me every day like they could actually change my life for the better.