I hated my parents for making me move. I hated the first day that I walked over that bridge into my new high school in southern California. I hated their stupid orange and blue uniforms and cheerleaders and outdoor dumb lockers. Mostly, I hated that I had no clue how to navigate all of it. I distinctly remember wearing the dorkiest outfit EVER on the first day. I don’t know what I was thinking, but when I got there, I realized I was wrong. Super wrong. Capri pants and sandals were not it. I had no friends and no clue whatsoever on how to find them; how to find my people. I have never been so utterly and totally terrified in my life.
Flash forward a few years… and I became thankful for that experience. While WHS left some to be desired, the experience of starting over, and figuring out how to navigate all of that– it made me an incredibly strong person. I am sure it made me brave in a way I didn’t even understand then. And I did find my people– in the usual places: the choir room, the theater, and on the yearbook. Havens for weirdos, aspiring actors and people who are not afraid of sequins.
Now, sitting here almost 20 years later (WHAT?!) I realize that that was just the first of many instances where I have picked up and moved, or started over, and gotten a re-do of sorts. I’ve spent most of my adult life starting over in all manners: moving, traveling, loving, parenting, working on various projects, getting passionate about different causes– and all the while, finding my place. I’m not an extraordinary person, but I might be extraordinary at being new and not being afraid of it. People often tell me their deepest feelings, or most impactful experiences within minutes, or days, of knowing me. I used to think it was the strangest thing, but then I started to take it as a compliment. Due to all of my moving around and starting over, I sort of just became more me. And I present me in all situations, at all times, sometimes to the detriment of the embarrassment of my loved ones. I take truth telling seriously and in doing so create a safe space for others.
Several weeks ago the kids and I planted a garden. And I honestly wasn’t sure how the garden would actually grow. Seeds, soil, sun, water… but was there something magical? Something secret in between those steps that I was supposed to do? No one ever told me how to plant and grow a real garden. Sure enough though, within several days, green sprouts began to poke through the dark, rich earth. I was so excited I took picture of these little baby sprouts, with their hopeful green leaves pushing toward the sun. I thought, see, I DO know how to grow a garden.
This is a bit how I live my life– I just have faith that things will be ok. That the next move will be the right one. That the unexpected twist or turn will just propel me to the next right step. Sure, it feels pretty crappy when going through some of it, but I’ve learned that pretty much, it’ll all just be ok. There’s a miracle on the other side of that shit creek you’ve been thrown into. Grab your paddle and get to work.
I went to church this morning for the first time in a really long time. The pastor spoke about being “passionately persistent.” This rang true for me and spoke to the internal dialogue so present for me these days. He also said, “the only way the battle is lost is by forfeit” and this really spoke to me: you have to stay in it, you have to stay present, get your hands dirty in that garden, but equally, have faith that those little seeds will grow. You cannot forfeit. You can, and should, try all of the new things and places that call you. You must get in the canoe and freaking paddle.