On the plane ride from Minneapolis to Los Angeles a couple of nights ago (after being delayed for two hours, finally boarding, and then having to get back off and switch planes due to a mechanical failure), I woke in my seat, freezing cold, neck sore. My yellow knit beanie was pulled down over my eyes, almost to my chin, to keep the light out and the heat in; I'm pretty sure its uneven surface is what tickled me out of my slumber.
I pulled the hat up, squinting against the dim reading light of the person next to me, glanced out the window, and saw that our plane was parallel to the Big Dipper, like we were walking alongside it. At the same time, a flickering caught my eye, and I looked down to see a web of orange lightning streak across the carpet of clouds just below us, followed by a couple of blue bolts in the peak of a domed thunderhead to our right. I pressed my nose against the glass and cupped my hands around my face to block out the reflections in the window, and I stared and stared.
I'm not sure how many minutes passed before I felt my eyes grow heavy again; I eventually pulled the hat back over my eyes and attempted to nestle back into my seat, wishing for a pillow and an electric blanket and home. I've never been very good at red eye flights.
I was in Minnesota for ten days, but it felt like weeks. Going home as often as I have this summer has been emotionally draining; my brain has had to rewire itself for each location, and for the past few months it hasn't gotten much recovery time in either direction. The shorter trips haven't had as much of an effect, but the ten-day trips, especially this most recent one, have left me feeling fairly sad and homesick. The hardest part about it is that I know it's my own doing. I don't have to be in Los Angeles; it's completely my choice. And I do want to be here, absolutely, but I don't know how to reconcile my desire for living in LA with feeling drawn to the comfort and love of my home state.
It's a double-edged version of The Grass is Greener syndrome, on crack.
I came to some realizations while I was at home this time, about life topics and people and situations that I didn't know had any more realizations left to give. Have you ever thought you understood something and pushed it to the back of your mind, and then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, a switch flips, and the truth you thought you understood fully sinks in, and after it does, you feel like you got hit by a bus? That happened to me a few times this past week; I cried a lot this past week. In beds, in fields, in cars.
Growing up is hard, you guys. Amirite or amirite? You have to let go of some dreams or ways of thinking in order to make way for fresh ideas, habits, people, you name it. Like no, seriously: you have to let go. Sometimes there is just simply no other way. That's what being an adult is, isn't it? Comprehending that sometimes there is literally nothing you can do but accept reality, deal with it, and move forward, even if moving forward seems impossible in the moment. I haven't been able to let go of some things yet; I'm still in the process of sorting that out. As with most things in life, saying is easier than doing. But I think it'll happen eventually.
I was told this week by a good friend that I am an over-thinker. This is true. I was also told by my mother that I am incredibly self-aware. This is also true. Is it possible to be one and not the other? There are times I wish I could turn my brain off, or at least cycle it down from Full Speed Ahead to Just Chillin' Mode, but that is a hefty task, and I'm not even sure it's possible. And most of the time, I wouldn't want it to be. I enjoy observing and thinking deeply. These characteristics only do me harm when my thoughts are about how to gain control of situations over which I have no power. Unfortunately, I'm finding out that the Real World is full of situations like that.
The good news about how I'm feeling right now is that I have enough experience to know how to make myself feel better. One thing I've started doing is making lists with long names: Reasons This Would Never Work --- Why It's Okay If This Doesn't Happen --- Here Are All Of The Possibilities This Path Opens Up For Me Even Though It Doesn't Seem Ideal Right Now. You get the picture. It also helps to acknowledge my emotions, allow them to exist, and then sit back and let time and space do their work. It's amazing what distance and the passing of hours, days, weeks can do for the soul. The tricky part is making sure that you don't slip and slide backwards later. But even if you do, no worries; time keeps marching on, so you'll get another chance.
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Below is a list of songs that I'm diggin' right now. Some of them are reminiscent of my time at home, some have melodies that make me dance, and others have lyrics that completely relate to how I'm feeling. It's a grab bag of songs, but I'm enjoying them all.
(Update: not all of the songs on my playlist are showing up for some reason...so here are the rest of them: John Mayer - Stop This Train, Jack Johnson - Talk of the Town, Jon McLaughlin - Human, John Mayer - The Age of Worry...apparently it's a problem with artists whose name starts with a "J". Kidding. But seriously.)
Happy Hump Day, friends.