When someone is going thru a hard time and they talk about moving it’s a good idea to question if it’s not themselves they’re running away from. I know, I know, this is “normal.” I think maybe that’s kind of rude: my family is kind of on the rude and presumptuous side though so wouldn’t matter to them. I know who they are and I should not have been surprised. I was prepared for the “you can run away from yourself” and “you’re the one you’re looking for” speeches. I was ready, not that it didn’t hurt.
I once gave someone those speeches. I once looked him straight in the eye and said “you’d be just as miserable there are you are here.” I can admit it: I was wrong. I can also admit this if there are myriad of decisions I have regret about – not saying yes to that boy and his impossible dream is at the top of the list. It has nothing to do with *him* per-say though he was a very nice guy then and though we’ve not spoken in a few years he was raised right and I am sure he is a wonderful, caring, and intelligent gentleman now. He’s also probably the same old asshole at the same time. This is not a “one who got away” story, this is a missed opportunities story. Dropping out of college would probably have been a bad option, but what I didn’t see at the time is if I just had somewhere to live, I could have easily transferred to NYU. Yup, at 19 I passed up a chance to move to New York. I thought I knew everything.
I was always the a “good kid” – despite my bad habits. I knew the “grown up” solution and the “grown up” way to be, I opted for the adult option every time. I experimented – moderately and safely. I inherently had a cost-benefit analyst inside my head calculating out the risk in each move: driving to Canada to attend a rave, experimenting with hard drugs, protected sex, going to a “good” school, and various adventures were safe. This thing: this drop out of college and move to New York thing THAT was not safe.
No, leaving – no matter how much I hated it, without the promise of a relationship or any kind of support, that was too risky. I had been willing and prepared to move out of the country with a man who said he’d marry me the second I graduated high school and turned 18. Not the second I turned 18 because I wanted a career, going to university and passing my GCSEs were also in my plans. I did get to study in England, but only for a summer. That is another story – not necessarily about missed opportunities. The risk I just couldn’t take here lie in the uncertainty of him and “us” and what “we” were doing. Was this “hey be my girlfriend and come to New York” – if it was, no mention of the girlfriend word was made, even though he clearly developed strong feelings toward me. (He also kept saying I was “just like” his mother, so there’s that.) There was no clarification on that front either like “I just don’t want to go alone, I think you’re super cool my friend would like you come with me – everyone will love you.” Okay, he did try to convince me but not with any relationship status clarification. I don’t know if I was that smart (he was one of the most intelligent people I’ve known) and I don’t know who these “friends” were. Ultimately, despite playing the role of manic pixie dream girl, I did not go to New York. My thoughts were first DO NOT drop out of college for some dude. Period. Second reason was I’ll still be me in New York.
I was in a funk. I didn’t have a place. I didn’t fit in. When they tell you “it gets better” they don’t mean in college, not necessarily anyway. Sure I had friends, I had people who “got” me. Well, I thought anyway. I had a support network at school which was way more than I’d had at home or as a teenager but life still sucked. Psychedelics saved my life, not that I was an addict, but without that dose of chemical love and perspective shifts I’d probably have killed myself. My family was far from what I’d call loving or nurturing and as a young woman I was left with gaping wounds. Yes, those wounds would still be there in New York. For this reason maybe it’s good I didn’t go. His own malaise was what he sought to escape, and I like a good grown up, told him he’d still be him where ever he was.
I was wrong. His malaise lifted, though not in New York and he ended up hopping up and down the East Coast for a few years before “making it” in NYC (or Brooklyn to be more specific – where all good hipsters end up). I hear he’s much happier now and “life” is finally happening after he landed on the west coast. Which brings me to my point: sometimes it’s not true that you’ll still be “you” wherever you are. We are shaped and influenced on all levels by our environments: our friends, families, co-workers, jobs, pets, homes, neighborhoods, schools, communities, and even geography influence who we “are.” My wounds would have still been there in New York, but healing may have been different. Instead of healing based on illusionary relationships and drug buddies, healing may have happened in a more genuine sober environment. I could have found a better job, gone to NYU, or met someone awesome. New York held so many more opportunities, the smarter version of me sometimes stops and thinks: who would I have been if I’d only said Yes.
I turned him down away in 2008 for an invitation to stay on his couch and put my résumé out in the bay area. That was dumb too, but I just didn’t want to “owe” anybody anything… well not like that. (Like I said, he’s a nice guy but I’m not going to mistake him for a saint.)
In 2013, I hope I am old enough to learn to say Yes. This will be the year of Yes, and doing whatever it is even when I am not good, pretty, thin, funny, or anything else “enough.” Also, I’ll never give that speech to anyone again.