Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”
Hilly hasn’t been here for the last week just visiting. She’s been checking out the area to decide if it’s a good place for her to move. And, as luck would have it, she’s decided it is.
Hilly is moving to Florida. In the next month.
She’s leaving her friends and her family and her life in California, and settling across the country in a brand new place.
Yeah. I’m resisting the urge constantly to chime in with the Internet’s absolute loudest and most obnoxious OH MY GOD ME TOO I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL!
It’s a funny thing to watch someone you care about embark on a journey that’s so familiar to you. I want to loan her my road map and travel guide and explain the handwritten notes in the margins. Thanksgiving will be hard. It’s natural to be homesick. Don’t be afraid to be afraid.
I want to point out the pit stops and make sure she notices the best parts and takes in the best sights. Try new things. Enjoy the beach. Relax, you’ll make friends.
But I can’t.
Because as much as I recognize myself in her, as much as I can see parts of my story in hers, it’s not my journey. It’s not my life. It’s not my story to write.
But it’s hard sometimes to sit on the sidelines and cheer without offering advice or direction. I want to make the way easier for her, but the way is different. And even if it wasn’t, it’s hers. And as much as I had to come here to build my life, I know that she has to do the same.
That we all do, really.
We have to, at some point, let go of the me too’s and the I know exactly how you feel’s and accept the fact that we have to do this on our own. We can’t build our stories as appendages to someone else’s. We can’t learn anything or create anything that is truly ours if we don’t have the space to try and fall and get back up and do it all on our own.
By our rules.
On our path.
We can’t discover treasures of our own if someone is constantly pointing everything out to us. And there is a certain thrill in the discovery, a thrill that I don’t want to rob her of by trying to make things easier.
It’s kind of like parenting, I think.
As much as I want to make the road easier for my kids, I know that I have to stand back and watch them build their own history and make their own mistakes so that they too can revel, someday, in the victory of accomplishment.
But it’s hard – this standing back. With kids. With friends. With little brothers and sisters who are going through life’s stages just a few years and steps behind you. I want so badly for them to know the freedom on the other end, the enlightenment and the pride and the comfort and the confidence.
The things that can only really be gotten by going through it, and not by skipping to the end.
So I remind myself that she, too, is a grown woman. I remind myself that she has lived a lifetime that is not mine. That she is getting divorced – and that there is no amount of “I understand” in the world that could be true or genuine, no matter how well intended, because I don’t.
And I have faith that she – and they, Devin and Emma and Jay and Creed and Jono and Lindsay – will figure it out. Like I did.
On their own.
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”