when you don’t know where it is you need to go

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Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life. –John Hodge, from Trainspotting

I don’t know where to go. There, I said it. I had the best laid plans–I’d spend three months in three states and decide where it is I’d make my home–and then life happened, I flew down to Nicaragua and all my plans fell asunder. I’m leaving in a few days and the only thing I know, in my heart, is that I need to leave New York within the next four months. I need to leave a place where people feel their handbags are a testament to their success and character, where instead of owning their possessions they are owned by them. I need to leave a place where people believe enlightenment can be found in the confines of a spin class. I need to leave a place where I’m crammed into a subway car and people are jostling; they live their lives traveling to jobs they hate, but the jobs pay for their finery, boutique fitness classes, and the $10 juices that serve as an acceptable form of starvation. I need to leave a place where the weather is a constant conversation piece. I need to leave a place that no longer feels like my home.

But I don’t know where to go.

Part of me entertains flights of fancy–I’d be some sort of digital nomad or travel the world for a year with only $20K to my name. But then I remember I own a cat and I have $1000 in student loan payments a month–real responsibilities–and I can’t just abandon rationality and real life because this isn’t The Secret; I don’t live my life in a petal pink delusion. In real life, I have monthly bills to pay regardless of where I go and I can’t just dump my cat in a friend’s lap–Felix is family and I love him that much.

But I want to go. Somewhere.

Ultimately, I know that I want to end up west but I can’t see myself there yet. Not in June. Possibly the end of the year. Until then I want to be somewhere else outside of the U.S. for 3-5 months even though I just signed up for pricey health insurance (there goes that pragmatic thinking again) and I have the logistics of pet passports and travel to consider. Part of me wants to explore Spanish speaking countries because I’ve an urge to be fluent and the question of quarantine is a non-issue.

I was supposed to come on this trip to figure out the details, draw an outline, but I’m back to where I started. Drawing circles in the sand and walking around what I’ve traced. Balancing memory, need, desire and reality. I was supposed to walk a straight line, write myself from here to there, and even though I always know that what you intend never is what you want it to be, I’m surprised (or maybe not), yet again, that I’m at the middle of my life and I haven’t figured anything out. I only know what I don’t want.

I don’t want leisure wear, matching luggage and a starter home. I don’t want a life treadmill. I don’t want 7-10pm and scrolling through my email during the four weeks of vacation I fought to have and everyone makes me feel guilty for taking. I don’t want a recruiter selling me on a company that lacks imagination and integrity, but don’t worry because the money is great. I don’t want unidentifiable food delivered to me. I don’t want to write blog posts like these and have people try to sew up my life for me–what I need right now is not a bandaid or an anesthetic, so please don’t. I don’t want to order a taxi with my phone and not care that the men who run the company hate women. But convenience, Felicia. Convenience. I don’t want to spend an entire day on the internet talking about a fucking dress. I don’t want to debate SoulCycle v. Flywheel. I don’t want to regard my book, this magical thing I’ve created, with bitterness because publishing is an industry crawling with sheep. I don’t want this: Why bother talking about ISIS because it’s not like my one voice can make a difference. So instead, I talk about two llamas and debate the color of a dress. I don’t want to wake up every morning and think: I don’t want this.

I don’t want what I can bear.

I stand in the middle of a forest, between two boulders and think, I want this. I close my eyes and fall asleep in the middle of a river, surrounded by 365 islands, and think, I want this. I look at my blog, this wonderful space I’ve created for myself, and wonder about a collection of essays I could write. I look at my bank account, about to be depleted come April, and wonder, how can I do any of this?

To be continued…

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38 thoughts on “when you don’t know where it is you need to go

  1. It is disgusting seeing people argue about dress’s color and other trivial issues. You know I am also looking for a place where I can take a respite from all things surrounded me, probably my journey will be to Mars 🙂

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  2. I left NY for greener pastures at 44 because NY didnt feel like home to me either…except neither does GA..but now i have a dog 3 cats and a house and No job but now im 57 and feel totally fked and wish i had left the country like i had wanted to when i was in my 30s…shit…now what…I feel your pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. struggling with it all too. Purpose, direction, the point of anything, feeling the need to completely detach from the “life treadmill”, needing more faith and trust that I will find the right path. I can’t express how thankful I am to read a blog as authentic as yours.

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  4. I left NY in 1975 and moved to Nebraska first then to Kansas. Maybe the Midwest isn’t the right place for you – it is for me – but I encourage you to keep looking. You will find your place. I’m reminded of Castaneda’s Don Juan, teaching him to find his precise place on the porch by wandering from board to board. It’s possible to pay your bills even if you wander for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally and absolutely feel you and feel the compassion because as it is I am going through the same thing , feeling like i am stuck in a rut and without any sign of hope out there clinching to the tiniest glimmer of hope within and trying not to lose hope or focus within. I hope you figure out where it is that you need to be and how to get there , I sure cant wait to and still hoping on hope and POSITIVISM is KEY.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I was hesitant in publishing this post because I didn’t want bandaids, salves, or reminders of what I already know, however, your comment was so succinct and wonderful. Thank you. It added a great deal of clarity. Warmest, f.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. One amazing thing the human have is the capacity to be creative, and you can create your world in fact to your necessities. It is difficult to let go of our feelings, but sometimes we have to stop, think, feel and take what make us feel alive as a important part of our life.

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  7. Interesting post. Sometimes the struggle is internal and all of the external stuff is just “white noise.” Everyone struggles with these bigger issues no matter the location or where you live. Small mindedness and a focus on extrinsic versus intrinsic needs/desire is just human nature. Try reading Ann Lamott (perhaps you already have). She helps ground me at times when I feel untethered. Good luck in your journey.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Connie! Yes, I’m aware of all of that you have written, however, it doesn’t make life’s decisions or choices any less significant. I’ve read Anne Lamott when I was younger; she’s a wonderful writer.

      Cheers, Felicia

      On Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 6:39 AM, love.life.eat wrote:

      >

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  8. Felicia,
    I grew up an Army brat. I moved every 3-4 years, all the way through high school (including Europe) and then continued to jump around as an adult for the next 10. I finally ended up here in New York and have been here longer than anywhere in my life, raising my 6 great kids. I’m waiting to be able to go again, and figure that I have at least 7-8 years before I can. I feel stuck sometimes, this is not ME, I’m meant to be moving on. So I’ve amused myself by re-traveling my roads, where have I been? Where would I want to stay? Where would I want to spend more time? Some place new? The answer for now is that I don’t know. I don’t feel compelled to be anywhere, not even here where I am. The only thing I know for sure, is that when it’s time, I WILL know. And I won’t be afraid to do it. I will know, and I will go. Maybe when it’s time, you will, too. Just as long as we don’t miss out on where we are right now. Best of luck!
    Celena

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    1. Celena,

      Thanks for the extraordinary perspective, I really appreciate it! I have a very vague sense of where I want to end up, but nothing feels definitive. Nothing feels as if I have an invisible arrow pointing to a place on a map with the need to GO THERE.

      I’m hoping that by my staying present and really listening to myself I’ll have a sense of it soon. Fingers crossed.

      Warmly, f.

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  9. I’m right there with you. How is it that we have managed to box ourselves into this type of life? And I agree, I don’t understand the hoopla over these ridiculous things that inexplicably go ‘viral’ on the internet (and the fact it is called viral should clue us in, don’t we try to avoid viruses).
    But I think it might be a reaction to most of us feeling like we are stagnating under the weight of technology and what the internet portrays as the sought-after life (with designer hand-bags, expensive juices – that look like bile, etc).
    I think the last time I really felt completely free and engaged with life is when I lived way up in the mountains of Colorado, with my dogs, the bears and the mountain lions and the beauty of the Rockies. Of course, the Internet wasn’t available, no cell phones, no reality TV, no excessive spending, or feeling buried under a pile of debt. Didn’t need any of that. ANd I was supremely happy. I worked to live, not lived to work.
    We do need to simplify and stop allowing others to influence our lives in such suffocatingly idiotic ways. Have you seen the movie “Idiocracy”? I am afraid that is the direction we are heading.
    Great post!!!!! Thank-you.

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    1. I have to check out Idiocracy (opens up separate tab, loads Netflix) ASAP.

      I have a love/hate relationship with technology, as well as some of the choices I’ve made in my 20s that have gotten me to this place. I don’t have regret and I realize all of it brought me to where it is that I am now, but parts of me, small parts, wish I could made small adjustments, tweaks, or, like technology, feel less tethered to the things that don’t matter.

      thank you for the wonderful comment, and it feels good to know there are others. -f

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      1. Felicia,
        I once took a Sociology course way back in college. One of the things I learned in that class, is that many people stay in unhappy situations because it takes more energy to make change, than it does to endure the less than desirable situation in which they find themselves presently. I think about that a lot, and think I might be one of those people

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      2. Actually, I tried to scroll down, but actually ended up sending the comment before I had qualified the statement by saying I have a good life, but it does take a great deal of energy and courage to make change. It sounds like you might have that courage and I applaud you.

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  10. I think the key to a happy life is taking it one day at the time, one step at the time without worrying too much about what “comes next”. Sure, goals are important but life is what happens when we are getting ready to make other plans (as the saying goes).

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  11. I’m reminded of a Rumi quote – “you were born with wings, why do you choose to crawl through life?” For sure living an authentic life, making different choices is not easy, as you well know with your courageous choices so far… sometimes there are no signs, you just have to jump and see where you land. Trust in yourself and keep hold of that courage.

    I Iove how you show your real journey, your angst, reveal so much in your posts. Uncertainty is ok.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jeannine! I think people are so bent on making life neat and tidy that they forget that some of the mess and uncertainty is SUCH an integral part of the journey. I’m happy I’m in this place and I’ll definitely make it to the next place when I’m ready. Warmest, f.

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  12. I soooooooo hear you. That’s why I made a big move late last year from the city to Canada’s Northwest Territories. I wanted to see my kids more than two hours per day. I was tired of buying stuff to cover up my unhappiness with my career. I took a risk (at 8 months pregnant) to try find a better work-life balance, and follow my dream of becoming an author. Good luck in your decision-making 🙂 I know it’s tough!

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  13. Wow, I love your post. I felt like you for the past year and a half, i have finally decided to leave NY in a couple of months to go explore Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. I am currently applying to work in some farms as a volunteer, sounds like you would like that. Follow your heart and things will start to clear up, there is always a solution! The struggle is part of the journey, for sure. Best of luck!

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  14. I have felt this way often. It’s always reassuring to hear that other people are asking themselves the same questions, and challenging the status quo. Whenever I get in moods like this, and feel lost, I soon come to the realisation that what I’ve really lost is faith. Faith that it’ll all work out, faith in myself, faith in life. Faith seems like such an arbitrary thing to hold onto, and I know life isn’t ‘The Secret’, but where would we be without it?

    It does sound like New York isn’t right for you, but since you’re going to be there for a little while yet, why not focus on some of the positive aspects of the city? The juice-drinking, bag-toting, superficial people are surely but one layer?

    Hang in there, and please keep writing, I thoroughly enjoy your work.

    – Jess

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  15. In the same place. I need to go. But …. but but but. No, its not The Secret, it’s real life. And my dogs? Ugh.

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  16. From one Felicia to another, I’ve been where you are. No one can tell you where to go or where you’ll end up, but I can assure you that it will be the most rewarding journey ever… to find your place. For me, that place ended up being within myself. I took a year and traveled all over, simply to return to the same city, but I was different and how I saw things was different. Not that I somehow just accepted the social norms around me, but that what I cared about was different. And things that used to bother and infuriate me don’t even register for me now. I wish you a safe and rewarding journey… ps. writing about it (in all forms — blog, journal, sketches, whatever) can really help too. Good luck!!

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