Posted on June 9, 2016
The Courage to Leave
The last few weeks, I have heard so many people say how strong and brave I am. Over and over, I have to tell them I am not strong or brave at all. In fact, I feel like everybody else. Yes, I am doing something new with just a couple of suitcases and a plan. Yes, I am doing it with my daughter. But I really feel like anyone could do this.
I suppose I don’t feel special because I truly enjoy learning the stories of other people. So many of the people whom I surrounded myself with are from other countries. Many people left war torn countries to find peace in America. My friends from Bosnia, Cambodia, Syria, and the Congo, all left behind so many memories. Many of them left half of their lives to start over new in a new land, learning a new language and customs. Often, America was not the first place they were sent to in order to start over. My friends from the Philippines, France, Haiti, Peru and China, started over because of bad marriages or no economic advantage. To me, they have courage. They are strong. They are to be commended.
I am just a single mom who thinks too much. I look at the one life that I have been given and decide that I want to live it to the fullest. My marriage ended years ago. My job was good. My friends are gold. But I wanted something different.
I could have stayed living the good life that I had, but I felt I was given too many signs. The first one came with the death of my cousin Kevin. When Kevin died it was so surprising. How could a generous family member, the person everyone like to talk to, be taken at 31? I asked myself if he was able to do all of the things that he wanted to do in his lifetime. I don’t think so.
Right before the death of Kevin, a couple at worked died as well. They must have been in their 80’s. Everyone talked about how helpful the wife was and what an asset she was to the organization. I am sure that is true, but I always felt sad that someone in their 80’s did not have a life outside of work. I can see volunteering at a job and coming and going as I please when I am 80. However, working a nine to five job and following the rules of an organization until I am too sick to work and then die, just does not seem like something anyone should be proud of doing or worthy of repeating. The part that made me the saddest was that the husband would bring his wife to work every day and sit at a desk and read a newspaper until he fell asleep.
He did this for years. I would ask myself, “Where are his friends?” “Why isn’t he at least out playing golf?” I know I look at things differently than most people, but this whole scenario made me sad. When the wife became ill and could no longer work, the husband also became ill. They died within weeks of each other. Yes, I am sure that their love was strong. I am sure that it was their choice to work (or sleep at a desk) until they both died. I am sure they did what they wanted to do. It just struck me in a negative way.
While I have life and breath and ideas, I should be living and acting on those ideas. I waited for many years to know just what it was that I should do. I waited to have just the right amount of money saved…which, by the way, you will never really have, you just have to go. I kept waiting for the perfect time until I had to be honest and say, “What am I waiting for?” I tell people all of the time that someday never comes, but I had to tell myself that as well. Someday never comes. Today is that someday, so here we are embarking on a new adventure.
This summer, Bean and I will be on our Great American Road Trip. We will be visiting family and friends from Illinois to Florida to Minnesota and many places in between. I thank all of my friends and acquaintances, even individuals I have never actually met but whose books I have read, for the courage to leave.
What was your longest road trip? What did you learn, see, and do? Who gave you courage for the journey? I would love to hear your story.