When I sit down to write a post for this website, I usually have a pretty good idea about what it’s going to be before I start. This post was going to be quick, light-hearted shout-out to all of the amazing people who came together this weekend to throw me a donkey themed “it’s way past your birthday but we still love you anyway” party on the farm.
There was a piñata.
And chocolate mustaches.
So basically we’re talking about a level of awesome that is hard to put into words.
But as I was writing about this weekend and my friends with their incredible humor, creativity, generosity, and thoughtfulness, I realized there was a different story to tell.
For me, it’s a subtle story. One that I almost don’t realize is there until I sit down to reflect on where I’m at right now, the people I’m surrounded by, and what an incredible difference there is between my life a few short years ago and where it is today.
Two years ago I was at the tail end of the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken, and the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. While the things I was doing in my life–the actual day-to-day activities like working my day job, building things as often as possible, compulsively hoarding power tools, hugging miniature donkeys– are all pretty much the exact same things I’m doing now, the undercurrent of my life was different.
It’s difficult to wrap words around something that isn’t as easy as “I was unhappy” or “I felt isolated” or “something was missing.” Those things are true, but they aren’t. I suppose on a daily basis I was happy, but I also had this vague sense of unease about the life I was living. That I wasn’t in the right place. That I wasn’t taking the right path.
Here’s the problem with a vague sense of unease, and the reason why I’m telling this story… do you know who actually reacts to something like that? Who makes a change based on a low-grade sense that something indefinable might not be right, in order to find something new that they can’t even articulate? Nobody. Well, chickens, maybe, but they also duck and run for cover when I sneeze within a ten foot radius of them so I’m not sure if they should be taken as decision-making role models.
Two years ago I lived close to my family, my work, and two of my closest friends (who, at the time, were really my only friends). I was in a relationship with a solid dude– one who has a good heart, is tough as hell, and is still one of the only people I’m comfortable asking for help. I had a house that I’d built pretty much to my exact specifications, and someone to carry the burden of at least half the chores (and, let’s be honest, he totally did more than half.)
If you just read that and said, “well, shit, that doesn’t sound bad,” that’s exactly what I kept saying. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t a situation that made me stop and think, “Holy hell, I need to get out of this.” It was a comfortable, convenient life.
When I thought about living a different life I couldn’t have even told you what it was. If someone had stopped me in my tracks, told me to drop everything and move away, I would have expected to lose touch with my family and friends, I would have expected I wouldn’t have time for the things I love– the writing and DIY– if I also had to spend two hours driving to-and-from work every day, I would have expected to spend a lot of time alone because I don’t make an effort to form friendships, even with people I like.
I left my last life on principle, and not even really by choice. Certainly not because I had a vision for something better. I moved to a crappy temporary farmhouse on a whim, and not because it made any sense. I made a plan to build a little cottage, and then, overnight, bought a big old farmhouse instead.
And I look up at the life I’m living now– an unplanned life, so much the same, and yet completely different from the one I was living before– and I see this:
My two closest friends, who’ve known me so long that they don’t even bat an eye when I disappear for a while and emerge two months later blinking and covered in sawdust, will still drive an hour into the middle of nowhere just to come hang out with me…
And know exactly how to make the perfect gift.
And, I’m sorry, I need to pause from the storytelling for a minute to say, IS THIS NOT THE MOST AWESOME THING YOU HAVE EVER SEEN?
That’s a fairy door for the little sprites who’ve moved in to look after the Nuggets. As you can see, the Nugget Watch is on duty. Holy amazing.
Okay, the point I was making before that little outburst is that I haven’t lost touch with the friends I’ve had forever, and I’ve found new friends in people I’ve known for years. People who understand the importance and dedication it takes to play a good game of pin the tail on the donkey.
I’m surrounded by people who both inspire me, and totally get me…
(Why yes, it was a donkey themed party, but no one wanted the rest of my “family” to feel under-represented, so they made me these decorative candy jars.)
Friends who teach me new things all of the time, like the fact that the proper way to drink Tecate is with a lime and salt…
And, you know, how to roast a marshmallow without singeing your eyebrows off…
The truth is, I’m surrounded by awesome people, and not because I knew they were out there, waiting for me to take a leap of faith and move to a farm house in the middle of nowhere.
So the story I’m telling here, the one I wish I’d heard back when I spent a lot of time trying to talk myself out of making a change in my life because “things weren’t bad” is that sometimes you have to trust yourself to make the right decision even if it doesn’t make complete sense. Even if there isn’t a plan. Even if it means taking that leap, just because your gut tells you there’s something else out there for you, even though you don’t quite know what it is.
And maybe that’s not applicable to anyone other than a girl who builds things and writes about her life on the internet and randomly buys farms, but maybe it is. Either way, telling this story is my way of celebrating a different life for myself. One I never expected, and that I’m grateful for every single day.