Tried a new eye doctor this week. Not sure why as I decided to make a change from one discount store doctor to another discount store doctor; just had one of those itches to do something different. Turns out it was a good change as the new doctor thinks my astigmatism has corrected and she knows of a lens that should perform better than the one my last doctor prescribed.
That’s not the only change. One of my nieces is changing cities, states and jobs because her old position has been phased out. It will mean leaving the city and state where she’s lived for at least a couple of decades which includes leaving her daughter and son-in-law as well as two of her sisters, one of whom will have to find a new place to live, since they shared an apartment.
I remember those days of feeling footloose enough that if I wanted, I could change jobs, change cities, change friends, leave extended family in one city and fully believe that I could do whatever it took to make sure the distance would not erode the bond between us.
To borrow a phrase, it felt like the call of the wild. The lure of the unknown, the new experience, new town, new apartment, new roads to drive, new shopping centers to find, new churches, new libraries and new museums, new friends to make and of course, a new job to finance all this newness. The possibilities were bright and shiny, the road trip adventurous and stimulating, every curve along the winding highway a glimpse closer to an elusive dream that I was sure was not a mirage; the pull palpable, the satisfaction rich on the tongue. New. New and different drew me on.
You get what I mean, right? It’s like an adventure around every bend, a way to try new possibilities, to hope there is a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, to believe that glow that shimmers in the desert when you’re flying through the night towards Las Vegas will turn out to be nothing but good luck. You just have to go and find out, am I right?
Before one of my moves across the country, Mother asked, “When are you going to settle down and stay in one place?”
I could see worry, concern and disbelief on her face while she moved around the kitchen making the salad and brewing loose tea leaves for sweet tea.
Daddy just smiled and looked proud and I knew he was confident that I was in God’s hands so wherever I went, it would be ok. I pulled open the silverware drawer and took knives, forks and spoons to set the table for dinner.
“Where’s the fun in that?” I asked back, “Besides, it’s your fault for moving us so much that I went to six different grade schools.” That did nothing to lessen Mother’s stress but Daddy smiled again.
I was excited by my decision to move, to be independent, to try my wings at this new job and this new place to live, yet there was always some underlying tug that said part of my job in life was to make Mother comfortable and secure. I always had to find a way to alleviate her anxiety. I was torn between the need to be me, free and strong, and the need to take care of Mother.
I wasn’t torn enough to stay in town, though, because I’d learned that wherever I followed that lure of a new adventure, I always took me with me and that me could be just as concerned about Mother’s well-being in a new place as I could when living in the old place. So, I would be upbeat and confident and hope that my positive emotions would rub off on Mother.
These days Mother is content with being table surrounded by familiar things and her everyday routine. These days I’m the one watching other people glasses take the risk to go someplace new. I’m settled now. Settled into Mother’s spot, Mother’s house, Mother’s routine. It chaffed at first and I struggled against the tethers but the choice for me to settle dance had to be made since there’s no money to pay for a retirement community for Mother. I couldn’t do that to fence her nor could my siblings, even if there was money for that type of care. I began to feel my age. The age it said on my driver’s license instead of the age I felt inside. Was this it? The end of the road to things new and unknown?
Not the end of the road as it turns out. Oh, I’m settled here but I find myself straining less against the confines as instead I explore a whole new, magical and breathtaking world of letters and words and lines and pages that fly across my mind, swirl in the wind and coalesce into journal entries and flash fiction and short stories and novels. This adventure just might be one of the best.