Thursday, March 24


The transition back to my life in the USA has been surprisingly easy. I found my beloved apartment mostly like we left it, aside from a light covering of dust. And yesterday, I went out to the farm, where I was welcomed back with open arms by everyone...aside
Horse hug
from the horses who, if they remembered that I’d been gone for nearly four months, didn’t let on. But then, they also don’t have arms. 

So, maybe it’s post-India blues, but since I got back, I’ve been just...slumped. Sometimes I’m sad, but mostly I just feel uninterested and unmotivated. There are more than enough exciting options I could pour myself into right now, but I’m lacking
the desire.

Needless to say, I was drawing a blank for this week’s post. So while I wait for what writer Julia Cameron calls ‘marching orders,’ I’ve decided to post a fitting essay I wrote at another slumpy juncture...  

Where do we go from here? 

I turned 28 last month, which means, according to plan, I should be a) Just returning from a three year ex-patriot adventure in India, b) Falling in love with a sexy Latin man who believes dancing is just an everyday activity, and c) Have everything about life pretty much figured out so I don’t waste any more time with the circular philosophical questions that plague me constantly.

Things aren’t looking good. I never imagined that somewhere in my mid 20s, suddenly and out of nowhere, I’d spend about a year (OK, maybe two or three) in an existential crisis, and then get plopped down not far from where I left off, but feeling completely lost,
In transit
without a clue what to do next. A year or so into my crisis, I met my friend Colleen at Wendy’s for a salad. I was telling her my tale of woe and lostness between bites of lettuce, turkey, and bacon bits when she said this: “I don’t think anyone our age really knows what they want to do.” I sat there sullenly. “But I did know,” I wanted to tell her. “I had it all figured out and now it’s all gone.”

But not only have I not accomplished the goals I dreamed up six years ago, I think my goals are actually changing (pause for shocked gasp). Disturbingly, in the past three years, not all at once, but slowly I’ve been changing my mind about things. I’m starting to understand some things that I didn’t know in my early 20s, like that rest and health are the foundation of anything that might follow; that sometimes your life’s passion is right under your nose and you don’t even know it; and that travel is way overrated. I’ve also been thinking more about getting married and having babies, which scares me so badly, sometimes I have to go sit in a closet and breathe slow, deep breaths until I settle down. I also have to promise myself that if I have babies, they will be miniature clones of Antonio Banderas.

The thing is, instead of dreaming about backpacking through Europe, I’m starting to feel more and more like wanting to contribute something important, right where I am. I feel a need to create, to produce something that might outlive me. I’m hoping it’s not just my
Laundry out to dry in Greece
biological clock ticking.

But lately, I’ve been lying in bed, unable to fall asleep, just thinking and thinking about what I want to do with my life. Thinking really isn’t the correct term; obsessing is more accurate. Just after repeating to myself the long list of helpful things I’ve learned about life in the past few years, like how true satisfaction comes from simply appreciating things like a great cup of coffee on a cool morning, something inside immediately begins to cry out, “But, but, I never got to live with orphans in Guatemala or traverse the Sahara on a camel.” What will I tell my children for heaven’s sake, that Mommy was going to live
A favorite pastime
abroad for a while, maybe start a school for blind Russians or learn to speak Italian while drinking cappuccinos in outdoor cafes . . . but then, she changed her mind and decided to stay home?

When my cousin Lynell stopped wanting to play Barbies with me, I told her reproachfully, “I will never stop playing with Barbies.” I just can’t let go of some dreams. Like my dog, Chi Chi, who used to lock her jaws onto a sock and refuse to let go even when we’d lift the sock so high, she’d dangle in the air. I’m passionate and driven, and when I want something, I have a hard time letting go. I’m willing to risk everything; I want it so bad, it seems impossible to start un-wanting it.

But now, nearing 30, the barbies are packed away in a box in storage (I don’t have the heart to get rid of them) and I have to acknowledge that people do change and some desires will eventually wane and change into new, different desires. I guess I just wish the change was less painful, less drawn out, and a little more clear cut. I’ve told God several times that if he just came down in all his shining splendor and told me what I should do with my life, I could go any direction, no problem, no questions asked. But then I have to
Morning chai in India
remind myself that I always have questions. I would throw out some hypotheticals. I would want God to really consider all my options.

But there seems a fine line between shooting for the stars and jumping into a black hole. I’m starting to accept that having it all figured out, at 28 or any other age, is not a realistic goal: that asking, “Where do we go from here?” may be a monthly, if not weekly or daily question. 

And sometimes it’s a question that just has to get lost for a while.