I mentioned this on Monday, but I started writing this blog ten years ago today.
Time is strange.
Yep, that’s my deep, profound, thoughtful cliche on this anniversary of a decade gone by.
I would not have expected this day to be particularly meaningful to me. My blog has always really been more of a way for me to save my memories and talk to myself than any sort of grand project. I’ve never made any money on it, never intended or tried to, and I don’t pay much attention to whether people are reading it, except for trying to make sure I say hi when people say hi to me. For a long, long time my only reader was me, and when a couple of you started reading regularly, it took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that you were there at all. (Hi, Judy! Hi, Carol! Hi, Barbara! Hi, Other More Anonymous Readers!)
It’s sort of like remembering the anniversary of buying a journal, or maybe buying a kitchen appliance. Like, “Whoa, this is the ten year anniversary of my electric kettle — I sure have made a lot of tea over the years.” I will not notice the ten year anniversary of my electric kettle and I honestly have no idea why I remembered this anniversary, except that I noticed the archive list last month and realized March 2006 was the earliest date in it.
But ten years is actually a remarkable amount of life. Ten years ago, I lived in Santa Cruz, with no intention of moving. I am fairly sure that we were living in a run-down, mold-ridden, rental house where my bedroom window was permanently cracked to let an electric cord through (to the sump pump under the house), and if we weren’t living there, we were about to be.
Ten years ago, my son had recently been diagnosed as having severe, even profound, learning disabilities. Ten years ago, I had a job that paid me well for work that I was very good at and very stifled by. Ten years ago, I had an adorable puppy who I already loved with all my heart.
If you had said to me ten years ago, “What’s your life going to be like in ten years?” and then, “What do you want your life to be like in ten years?”, I would have answered with, “I have no idea,” followed by “I have no idea.”
But if you had said to me back then that in ten years, I would be living in a cute three-bedroom house in Florida with a window seat and French doors to a patio with a swimming pool; that my son would be in college, with multiple scholarships, on the verge of presenting at his second academic conference; that I would be eking out a precarious living by writing fiction; and that the adorable puppy would still be as adorable and would have an adorable companion, I would have laughed at you. That set of fantasies would have seemed as unrealistic as they come, with the second dog pushing the whole thing over the edge into haha, ridiculous.
And yet… here we are. Here I am. That is my reality, or at least a little window on it. For some reason, it makes me want to cry. I wish I could go back to that self, who was always tired, and often depressed, being made sick, sick, sicker by the mold in that horrible house, and tell her what the future would bring. Not that it didn’t bring plenty of bad along with the good — these ten years have held more grief and loss than I could have handled knowing about back then. But it is amazing to me to look around at my life, to think about the friends that I hadn’t even met yet, the knowledge that I didn’t have, and realize how far I’ve come, how much I’ve changed.
But the thing about looking back on ten years is that it also inspires me to look forward. Where do I want to be ten years from now? What do I want out of the next ten years of my life?
I got here by taking chances. By doing things that seemed impulsive and scary. Moving to Florida was huge, quitting my job even bigger, dropping out of graduate school terrifying (and yet still the right call, I think). What terrifying things do I want to do in the next ten years?
Five days ago, I thought, “Maybe I should sell the house and buy an RV. It could be my tiny, mobile house. I could live in it with the dogs, write just the way I do here, cook in my tiny kitchen, and drive around the country looking for beautiful sunsets.”
Four days ago, I started telling people — my dad, my brother, my friend Tim — that I was thinking about it.
Three days ago, I started researching RVs.
Two days ago, I stared cleaning out my garage and closets.
Yesterday, I called a realtor.
Today, I’m making it real. I’ve decided. I’m going to embark on the biggest adventure of my life. It’s exciting and terrifying and exciting again. Getting rid of all of my things is going to be hard and painful and take forever; selling the house is going to simultaneously be enormously freeing and agonizing; the process of buying an RV frightens me like nothing I’ve done since buying a house; and it will be ever so strange when Rory has a school break and I offer him a tent to sleep in, not to mention holidays.
But ten years from now, I want to look back and think, “Wow, you might have been crazy, but you sure were brave.”
Meanwhile, of course, I’m going to finish writing Grace. And even before that, I’m going to walk the dog who’s been gazing at me ever-so-plaintively for the last thirty minutes.