On Oct.13th, 2011, I was in my first major car wreck–I was t-boned by a Chevy Surburban on my side in my cute black Kia Soul, which I had nicknamed Vader. The force of the impact spun me around, and when I came to a stop I was on the curb. My side of the car was crunched in so far neither of the doors would open. All my side air bags had deployed, and I really believe that’s why I walked away from the crash.
A friend of mine had given me a fake bloody leg, the kind you close in the car door so it looks like you’re dragging a body part around town, and it was, of course, shut in the back door that had been crushed.
So I stood there on the corner, not a scratch on me except for a little seatbelt bruise on my neck, addled but otherwise okay (everyone in the Surburban was also fine), with my wrecked-up Soul and a bloody fake leg hanging out of it. Which, on this day, was rather unfunny.
My family lives in other towns, and my boyfriend was 13 hours away in Florida, so I stood there by myself as the ambulances and cops came and went and eventually the tow truck came, hauled my car on the bed, and drove away.
But while the car was on the flatbed of the tow truck and the young man was strapping it down with metal chains, this thought came to me: Your life here is over.
Thoughts like this have come to me throughout my life, and when they do, I believe them. Although I didn’t know what in the world this particular thought could mean: I had a wonderful job teaching English at the community college, a great set of friends, a church that I didn’t hate, a mortgage (that I did hate, but)…though I have to tell you, when I was told my life here was over, I was relieved.
For a few years, I’d been getting the sense that I was doing well in my life, but it wasn’t exactly the one I was supposed to be living. I know many people feel like this, at least, many people who I know feel like this because we talk about it.
I saw today on facebook that a friend of mine had posted a comment by Dale Carnegie that most of us tend to put off living, that this is the tragedy of human nature. And I suppose that sums it up: although anyone could judge my life as a success, in my adulthood I can tell you that I haven’t really been living my life. I just do it., and I’ve ended up with a mortgage and a teaching job because other people suggested it–although I never would have admitted it until recently, my life is the result of decisions I’ve made based on other people’s suggestions. I have busy days, but the truth is that I’ve more or less been a conscientious objector as far as full participation in the game of life goes. And for me, that’s an important distinction: being busy is not the same as living life.
So, what happened was this:
On October 6th, I went to Naples, FL, to visit my boyfriend Michael for fall break, and we agreed that eventually, in a year or so, I’d move to Florida and we would get married. I returned home on Oct. 9.
On Oct. 10th, I was playing around on the internet and dreaming. A hidden but very vital interest of mine is wetlands ecology, reptile and amphibian life forms in particular. In the secret part of my heart that I don’t share with many people except for Michael, what I really wanted to be was a naturalist, specifically, I wanted to be David Attenborough. That’s what I wanted: to travel around the world learning about nature and then writing about it. That was the dream in my heart, but, like most dreams, I suppose, I convinced myself it was fancy, that it was impossible, impractical, too romantic, stupid. So, I let it go.
But on October 10th, I stumbled upon an online advertisement for an ecotourism company that gave tours of the Everglades. I said to myself, “well, if I’m moving to Florida, THIS would be the job I’d want to have.” So I sent them a short email: hey, I’m moving to Florida at some point and need a job; I’d like to transition into wetlands education…would it be possible for you to send me suggestions about how I could work for a company like yours?
Nothing special; I did not expect a response, honestly, and I certainly thought if they did answer me, it would probably be with a long list of credentials and degrees and experience I didn’t have. I was just dreaming.
On Oct. 12th, I got a reply:
Hi. As it turns out, we’re hiring. Would you mind sending us a resume?
So I did. The next day, I was hit by a car and told my life as I knew it was over.
On October 15th, a friend of a friend decides to rent my spare room.
On October 17th, I had a phone interview, and forty-five minutes later heard myself saying “I can’t believe this is happening. Yes, I will take the job.”
At this point, I’m scared. What is going to happen to my house? The guy who is now living in it? What about a new car? My job? My benefits? My security? My this? My that? My everything?
On October 19th, my insurance company calls with the settlement, and they are giving me twice as much money as I had expected on the value of Vader.
On October 21, my new roommate moves in, hears I got a job giving tours in the Everglades, and volunteers to property manage my house for a year. As it turns out, he is a passionate environmentalist.
On October 24th, on a whim, I query facebook to see if anyone has an old cheap car to sell so I can move to Florida. Some friends give me a Saturn station wagon.
On October 26th, I resign my position at the college. I get the requisite but unhelpful fear-induced phone calls from my brothers and mother. They are heartbroken that I am throwing my life away. I falter for twenty-four hours, then make a decision to do it anyway.
By Halloween, I have another car, money, reliable renters for my house, and I am on my way.
My agreement with the college was to finish out the semester, which ends five days from this writing. I’ll work four more days in the advising center and then Michael is flying to Wilmington so we can pack up our trailer and move somewhere around Ft. Myers.
Right now, we still don’t have a place to live. We are trying not to panic, although I do feel like it will emerge here in a few days.
On the morning of December 18th, I’ll leave this life I’ve experienced in Wilmington, NC, behind and start my new life in Florida in the glorious, dangerous, swampy, sensual, thriving world of that unique and rare wilderness.
I am looking forward to this adventure.
All of that was to say that I have started this blog to chronicle my experiences along the way, from this point of leaving Wilmington to emerging into this new phase of my life experiences. I’d like to have this blog be my field notebook although I can see I will probably write a lot about my spiritual experiences as well, maybe, and my personal life. I guess this is like a diary/field notebook hybrid. Whatever. Let’s just all see what happens, shall we?
On that note, I don’t know what to expect, and I do not know what is going to happen to me. What I do know is that it is not my job to care. My job, as I understand it through hours of prayer and meditation, is to trust God. Honestly, I think that’s the only job I have.
So here I go, living my life. I’ve always wanted to be an adventurer.
I’ll let you all know how the move unfolds and the house-hunting.
I think blogs are supposed to be shorter than this? I’ll work on that.