Stay or Go

When you can’t change your location, sometimes you have to change your mind.

One of my early posts was about my escapist fantasy. In this fantasy, I’d leave without telling anyone. I’d pack up all of my belongings, drive off into a romantic sunset, and find a new place to live. Sometimes, I pictured working on a ranch, somewhere in the desert, or at the very least in an arid climate. Right now, I’m picturing tall, green trees. Wherever it may be, the natural beauty is striking, and either I have my phone with me or I’ve chucked it. Maybe I get a new one and give one friend my number to let them know I’m okay, just to let my family know I’m still alive. Aside from that one friend, I can’t be reached.

I’m in a new place where no one knows me, and I’m free to be my own person. I’m no longer chained to my past. I’m free to be whomever it is I’ve decided to be. At my most passionate and wayward, I never come back, but a part of me realizes that at some point, I’d probably be drawn back by something, something big. That’s usually how it happens in the movies. It would be kind of wonderful if the world had a movie-like quality to it, but as it stands, the world we live in isn’t nearly as clean and tidy.


I’ve tried in vain to plan my life, to plot out how it would go. The plan was a loose one, more of an outline, and even though it seemed manageable, I still haven’t been able to stick to it.

I figured that I’d travel a bit, maybe move around the country. Once the traveling bug was out of my system, I’d move home to Massachusetts, and I’d work for an ALS-related nonprofit, maybe start a family. Maybe I’d be in my forties, and hopefully I’d be more responsible, but maybe not. The plan sounded perfect, but even if everything didn’t fall perfectly into place, I just wanted to be happy with what I was doing, and I wanted to be surrounded by wonderful people.

I’ve tried to predict my life, to write the story before it happened, and I’ve failed. Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough to bring it all into fruition, but you never know. There’s a chance that this vision would have come true, and it wouldn’t have moved the needle for me one bit. Maybe we aren’t supposed to get certain things because we’re meant to live another life entirely.

The reality of my situation is decidedly less glamorous. I moved home to Massachusetts, and shortly thereafter, I had to reconstruct my social circle. It wasn’t quite the homecoming I wanted it to be, and maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s okay for places to just be places, and not to have that significance we attach to them. I’ve moved around a little bit, not as much as some people, but enough to know that I can make it work almost anywhere. There’s something to be said for predictability and consistency, but even Boston is so much different than the city it used to be, back in 2012, when I lived here.

Two summers ago, I went to Oregon in hopes that something would tell me to move there. I was chasing a feeling, a feeling I’d had years back. I’d come to Portland at a moment in life when I wasn’t sure what the next step was. I was looking for a reason to stay in one place and settle, to just stop moving so much, to get comfortable, and hopefully thrive. It was never going to work. I was always going to keep searching for a place that felt like home, if such a place ever truly exists. I think it does exist, but it also matters that you build up a good ecosystem around that home, a network of friends and possibly family as well. It’s the love in your life that makes a place become a home. The physical objects themselves, the house, the yard, they are only made significant by the people who use them.

I no longer cling to the fantasy I mentioned at the beginning. On my worst days, my mind used to drift there as a kind of last resort. In my worst moments, I’d think, “Well, that’s still on the table. I could still do that.” I realize that that line of thinking doesn’t make any sense. I wanted to run away from my past and myself, and that’s a lot harder to do than it is to pick up and move somewhere. I was avoiding the heavy lifting that’s required when you still have work to do, when there are unresolved issues that you’re not sure you have the strength to take on.

I no longer want to escape. I can’t say that I’ll never do it, I only know that the scales are tilting in the other direction. The biggest thing I’ve accomplished since being back is that I’ve made peace with myself, and what I’m doing in life. It’s an accomplishment that I will not downplay because it took so much work. So often in my life I haven’t been happy with myself, so to feel like I’m okay, that I’m not a failure, a fake, or a fraud, that’s something that’s truly meaningful and wonderful. I hope that everyone finds that peace in their lives.

A change of scenery can be a wonderful thing. Sometimes, you can’t shake the memories you have of a certain place, and so moving is the only choice. Sometimes you get a new job, and it takes you to a place you never thought you’d move to. Know that there are limits. When leaving becomes your go-to move, not only is it expensive, you also become that person that never stops looking for a better situation. Most likely, you’ll never find that situation because you’re not happy with yourself. The location becomes irrelevant. You could live in New York City and still be completely miserable.

I can’t say I’ll stay in Boston forever, but I’m enjoying myself, and I have no plans to move again any time soon. When you’re happy, you don’t really care where it is that you are. I’m letting life take me where it wants to, just trying to go with the flow. There are no expectations, other than that whatever the situation is, I’m going to make the best of it. Maybe that sounds like I’m always looking for the silver lining, but I truly believe that life is the mindset you bring to it, and I plan on injecting as much positivity into each day as I possibly can, in the place that I’m in, for maybe a few years or more. Thanks for reading.


One thought on “Stay or Go

  1. So I have a few years on you. I also have gypsy in my blood. My entire life has been quasi-nomadic. Some people enjoy the comfort of staying in one place. Others seek out new environments. Either work! If I’m correctly reading this post’s share, the three words come to mind: perspective, lens and frame. I’m hearing an interesting contrasting of fantasy and reality; how Adam sees and feels about both. And it finds me wondering why aren’t you free to be your own person now? You seem to be a grounded individual, quite capable of becoming who you want to be/live where you want. Have you ever played with the concept of simply allowing life matters to ‘unfold’? Perhaps being more ‘in flow’ rather than trying to plan and steer outcomes? I like your mind-set, Adam. And I wish you abundant success in being at peace with yourself. You are clearly deserving!


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