Thursday, January 5, 2017

Not all who wander are lost

I recently opened my eyes in sunny CA. Next stop? Lake Tahoe.

Why am I here? What am I doing? What will people think? If I write about it will my phone explode with text messages from people who suddenly care so deeply yet I haven't heard from them in months or years? Will I be judged for running off to the other side of the country?

What's going on with Darcey, anyway?

Maybe. 

But I knew that when I got on the plane and guess what? I got on the plane anyway. The truth is it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks. It's taken me 44 years for that to finally sink in. Life is just too short.

It's no secret I've been drawn to the West Coast my whole life. As a kid I dreamed of it so I could escape my childhood. I grew up in a small town called Elmira. As a kid the furthest place I could dream of was the other side of the country. My godfather lived on the West Coast and when he visited me he would tell me stories about life there. He would describe the ocean in great detail when I'd grill him with questions to quench my curiosity. In my mind I could hear the crashing of the waves, taste the salty water, feel the warmth of the sun on my face. My godfather was a kind and successful man and he represented how I thought life should be. All this was in stark contrast to the life I was living. 

He planted seeds in my imagination and out of those seeds grew my dreams and my drive to never give up and always reach for something more. 

This was probably one of the greatest gifts I could ever get, because dreaming has gotten me through some of the worst times of my life. 

I remember my mom used to drag me to my grandmother and her husband's trailer on her weekends with me as a kid. The court order in place specifically stated I wasn't to go there but I found myself there every weekend she had me. I positively hated going for reasons no kid should ever have in their vocabulary. 

My mom sat with my grandmother in the kitchen while I played on the floor in the living room trying to pretend I wasn't being watched. I had heard that if you listened hard you could hear the ocean in seashells. So every torturous visit I would dig out 2 of her largest sea shells and put one up to each ear and listen as hard as I could. It drowned out the sound of my mom's worries that we wouldn't have enough money for groceries and my grandmother's voice saying things like, "Shhh. Don't talk about Darcey's daddy. She goes to see her daddy. He buys her nice things."

The sound I imagined I heard took me a million miles away from that trailer. 

The sea shells and the dream protected my spirit. I never stopped dreaming.

I sat thinking on this as I drank my skinny vanilla latte in disbelief that I was actually sitting in the sunshine in furthest place I had ever dreamed. 

Ironically on my 4 mile run that morning, 2,700 miles away, I stumbled on this sign.....




Elmira.

What are the odds, right?

Part of me was like, really? Fu*king Elmira? Will I ever escape it?

Of course it's not really Elmira. Elmira is a great place filled with lots of people I care about. 

For me, it just represents so much pain I experienced while I was living there. 

I suppose running into a sign for Elmira could have just been a coincidence. As I sat there all by myself in the sunshine, feeling so peaceful and so happy, even with my sign reminder just a few blocks away, I was reminded of something my brother in law used tease my sisters and I about...

"You can take the girl out of Elmira, but you can't take the Elmira out of the girl."

Maybe he's right. 

And maybe that's ok. 

Maybe the key is to make peace with it all. Every single part of you. The good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the victories and the defeats, the successes and the failures. Embrace the journey but keep right on moving forward. So much easier said than done, but every day I get just a little better at it.

Next stop? Lake Tahoe.