I am not the kind of person who handles change very well. More specifically, I go kicking and screaming into change like a toddler having a meltdown.
In the years we've been married we've moved to three states, a studio apartment, a basement apartment overrun with roaches, a townhouse with wall-to-wall apple green carpet, a better townhouse, another townhouse that had no natural light, and our current home. I always put on my cheerful face, so excited to be partaking in another "adventure in moving." That face never lasted very long as my resentful face was longing to show itself to the world. After the newness wore off, the pictures had been hung and the path to the nearest grocery store figured out, I would get pissy and stay that way for a good long time. I didn't like having to make new friends, and after a couple of moves I figured out that the first woman in the neighborhood who knocked on my door to introduce herself to me was probably the craziest person one the block. Two experiences with that made me keep my guard up and ready.
The same goes for starting new jobs. I observe for a good long while and keep my eye firmly trained on the red EXIT sign. When I'm done observing I start to look for reasons to leave, and since most jobs come with a gold mine of crazy and dysfunctional it's not hard to come up with a solid five excuses to bolt on any given day.
My husband can attest that when I am in one of these transition periods (that can go on for months and months) that I'm a delightful peach to live with. You would think that since I know that about myself that I would avoid job hopping but it's just the opposite. I start getting antsy and bored and think I need to find some greener grass and off I go again. When I find myself in another new environment I look around for somebody, anybody to blame but the finger only points back to me.
When we made our last, big move to Kansas I literally thought I was going to die. I couldn't believe I was nowhere near water. We moved from a place that was thirty miles from the White House to Kansas of all places. Who does that? Whenever we would take the subway and get off at the Smithsonian stop, go up the escalator and see the Capitol I would gasp. I probably gasped fifty times over those five years. I never got tired of seeing that. On the weekends we would leave early in the morning to drive to the Delaware Beach, Chincoteague Island, Annapolis. When I got off the train when I worked in Chicago I walked two blocks to my building which was across the street from the Art Institute and a short walk to Lake Shore Drive. Every day from my office I saw the water of Lake Michigan.
Kansas seemed like a hard, waterless fall from the grace of where I had come from and there was no water to cool off, no red EXIT sign to point the way out.
At some point I finally surrendered, likely from exhaustion of the battle I had created in my own head. I stopped comparing it to my imagined life somewhere else and let it stand on its own sturdy feet. It faltered often but then it showed off its Flint Hills and I thought "okay this might work." Or the limestone buildings of Kansas State University, the funky college town of Lawrence with its impromptu parade on a Saturday afternoon of people who want the governor ousted. The hokey roadside attraction of The World's Largest Prairie Dog. Or the farmer not far from where we live who started planting sunflowers years ago as an experiment in biofuel that never panned out. He kept planting, though, thousands of sunflowers. Forty acres of sunflowers.
It took twenty four years but I found the sea in Kansas when the winds on its plains whispered to me to look elsewhere to find what I was missing. That's when the dream that I dreamed of really did come true.