One Day at a Time
by Jane Moneypenny
On the 10 hour drive today, I had a lot of time to think about everything that’s happened. I cried for the first 20 minutes and then slapped my head when I realized I was so distracted, I had gone 1-44 West all the way down to Pacific (the route we went yesterday to float) and completely missed 1-270 fifty minutes ago. Not a great way to start the trip. Good thing it’s my favorite stretch of road to drive because the scenery is so breathtaking. I had to flip back a few times on the drive due to my mind being completely somewhere else and each time, the “ST. LOUIS [# miles]” would show up, I was tempted to keep heading back. The second I walked in the door, my mom started nagging me and I had to pay a pile of bills and unpack the car. At that moment, I realized how real it was I was no longer in another city.
I never ever fathomed it would be this hard. Or I did but never in the situation that I imagined for years. There was no tearful goodbye to him; I didn’t even see him in the last week. There was no goodbye at all. He just faded off my radar. Instead, my sadness and bittersweet goodbyes were towards the new people in my life – the girls from the last year that befriended me and made me feel so welcome, the new co-workers from a job that fell in my lap and the two guys that suddenly became a big part of my life in the last week. Isn’t that funny? The one situation that caused me so much grief and every emotion possible in the last 6 years was barely on my mind as I drove away today. I wouldn’t have been so miserable in STL for so many years if it wasn’t for that, so it begs the question if I would have ever bothered to leave. Or if I would have left earlier. I guess it doesn’t matter anymore other that I got ever a massive obstacle in my life that I never thought I would and now I’m about to start this unknown new chapter of my life.
I can’t seem to think about the future right now. Not even tomorrow or the day after because right now, my heart seems to be somewhere floating along a river or in the car on a last minute road trip through small town Missouri. He asked me last Sunday night why we hadn’t become friends sooner or hung out more. Not for lack of trying on my part, buddy. Despite knowing each other for a year, I guess our friendship didn’t exist until this week. I’m pretty damn sure the chemistry has always been there. But this is the way life falls and it wasn’t meant for anything more than that. And I think I’m okay with it, even though our eyes do meet in humorous moments and in such a short time, we wordless share sandwiches and the occasional drink as if we’ve been doing it for years. I didn’t jump that cliff for him. I can promise that. But I did jump knowing he would at the bottom to yank me out when I panicked and drowned. I don’t remember much of it other than jumping, screaming, closing my eyes and hitting the water and getting pulled out. A lot of laughter, patting on the back and the girls on the shore thinking I was insane.
I miss my apartment. Not that I don’t love being home, but that apartment was me, my space, my solace. It was painful closing the door behind and locking it one more time. The first thing that went in was the last thing that went out as a friend helped me lug the old Walmart futon mattress (that has slept many guests) to the dumpster. He seemed a bit bummed too; it was his first post-college apartment as much as it was mine and hearing our voices echo made me want to blink my eyes back to the way it looked a month ago. I never thought leaving St. Louis would be so heartbreaking. It actually felt like those days after the end of a relationship when you know it was the best choice, but that feeling in your chest won’t go away.
And I just got an email from this guy, basically saying he was sad I was gone and thanking me for a cupcake and note I sent him right before I left. Hilarious. Good timing, buddy.
It’s weird slowing down. I’m so used to being on the go and now I just have time to breathe. It’s a good thing, but the workaholic in me is itching to do something. But I have to do this one day at a time, at my own pace and remember to continually living my life like I have in the last 6 months: with heart, with exuberant passion and with an undying desire for adventure.