I was an angry young man
That I was a billboard
By the side of the road
I fell in love
With a beautiful highway
This used to be real estate
Now it’s only fields and trees
Where, where is the town
Now, it’s nothing but flowers
The highways and cars
Were sacrificed for agriculture
I thought that we’d start over
But I guess I was wrong
Once there were parking lots
Now it’s a peaceful oasis
you got it, you got it
This was a Pizza Hut
Now it’s all covered with daisies
you got it, you got it
I miss the honky tonks,
Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens
you got it, you got it
And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
you got it, you got it
Talking Heads, (Nothng But) Flowers
Wow. A full decade into the 21st century and what a decade it has been. For the world, of course, but I’m thinking more about me, personally, right now.
As we rang in the New Year, 2000, I was working as an accounting manager for a local gas station chain. I was making decent money. My then-partner was making vastly more. We had recently bought a new home… 2500 square feet in the heart of Chicago’s northwest suburbs. We had spent the past year very selectively furnishing the new house, decorating, and making it our own. Our son was in first grade. I was generally happy with my life, shallow as it really was at the time.
By 2001, the gas stations had been closed down and I had turned my attention to my folks software business. I wasn’t making much money, then, so our spending was curtailed, and I was starting to feel like something wasn’t right in my life. Then there was September 11. I walked into my parents home for a day of work moments before the second plane crashed into the towers. The entire day was surreal and little work was done. By the time I was driving home for the evening I realized why I personally, had such a strong reaction to the toppling of the towers (totally independent of the terrorist attack, itself.) I remembered, as a child, moving from Jersey to Chicago. As we were leaving, we drove through New York and my folks pointed out the twin towers, just recently completed (like, since our last visit to the city). It made the whole thing very personal in a way.
2002 was a year of growing dissatisfaction for me. I grew distant from my partner, I did my thing, he did his, but rarely did we really connect one to the other in any meaningful way. By the end of the year I confronted him about my feelings. Although shadows of my discontent actually went as far back as 98 or 99, it was only at this point that I both reconciled for myself what I was unhappy about and also found the courage to address it head on. I wanted a simpler life. The constant struggle for more and more money, for things and status and some weird suburban respectability was just not what I was about. I sat my honey down and told him this, told him that I really wanted to leave the suburbs, buy a cheap little house out in the boonies, live easier. To my surprise, he immediately told me that he felt the same way. We started planning.
2003 saw our house sold and a new one purchased, sixty miles out from the city. But it was not what I had intended. As much as my honey wanted out of the money trap, he was also terrified of the idea of poverty. And to him, poverty was anything less than more money than we knew what to do with (at least by my standards now). In the fall, he came home one day with a copy of Ishmael by Dan Quinn. A day later my entire world was turned upside down. At first we were both excited. A whole new world of possibilities opened before us. We talked of things we might like to do, how we would do it, what it might look like and how to get there…. but then that whole fear of poverty reared its ugly head. I discovered IshCon.org and turned my attention to others exploring the possibilities.
2004 I started meeting those people I spoke with online. I began to form, for the first time in a decade or more, honest to gods friendships. Relationships beyond the merely superficial. And I liked it. My honey and I continued looking or a way to reconcile his hopes and fears with the vision that was growing in my head. Sometimes it was really good. Othertimes, not so much. For me, all on my own, it was year of tremendous growth and change.
2005 was a continuation of the same. More relationship building and exploration for me. More give and take with my honey over what would or would not be acceptable to him. And as we talked more, and I learned more through my online relationships and reading and analyzing, I gradually came to really feel like I understood the ideas and particulars of where the world was going and what that meant.
Which, of course, led to tremendous upheavals in 2006. Over a six month period in ’05, my honey and I turned both of our worlds upside down, looking for a way to heal our relationships and create a future for our family. We thought we had succeeded by year’s end. But there was still that nagging doubt for me. I wanted it to be true. For our son. For my honey. For the simple expedient of ease. No change is always the easier path. But it wasn’t to be.
In 2007 I left. And then I really left, moving to Colorado and starting a completely different life. I went back to waitressing, I moved in with Eddie. I started figuring out, for the first time in a long time, who I am, rather than who I am in relationship to my family. There was a certain amount of backfire there… living with Eddie was never easy, but I’ve talked about that previously.
In 2008, Eddie and I left Denver and made our way up into the mountains. Financially we struggled (just as we had in Denver), yet it was a struggle that gave me faith in myself. Before I came to Colorado I had never successfully supported myself… now, here I was supporting two of us, even when there were occasionally downturns, I was aware of the fact that I could do this. And I had never known that before.
2009. This year, above all else, has been about me stepping out of all the shadows I have hidden in, for so much of my life, and finally, walking into the light with head held high. Its been a year for selfishness on my part. A year of drawing my lines in the sand, deciding for me and me alone how my life is going to progress. One of the hardest things I have ever done. I much prefer to take care of others and ignore myself. But this year I have found a balance point that I think I will be able to hold onto as I move forward.
I have a really good feeling about 2010. I think it is going to be a year of dramatic happenings. Of good things coming together and working, simply because it is time for them to do so. A year of possibilities, of ventures not even imagined, sprouting into being fully formed and functional. I’m excited. And I’m ready.
Raise a glass to the endless possibilities of 2010! And I will see you next year 🙂