Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Farewell, Cinci

I no longer live in Cincinnati. All my stuff (and it's worth noting that I have far too much stuff) now resides in storage in various family members' basements, and my bedroom in my apartment is completely empty. I wish I could say it feels real now, but it still doesn't. It feels like every time I packed up my crap at the end of spring semester and moved it to a new home; it feels like I'm just shifting my life a mile or so down the road and everything will continue the way it's supposed to. Meredith's going away party is on Friday, and I won't be there. How can I not be there? I'm crying just thinking about it. Life is changing so much - and it's not at all outside my control. I instigated this change by applying for jobs there when I had a job here, by signing a contract despite knowing that I loved the life I had. It's all my fault really.

That's also somewhat liberating. No one is forcing me to take this next crazy step in my life. No one made me leave my friends and family behind in search of adventure and excitement. No one... but me. Sometimes I am literally forcing myself to step forward. I got my visa number yesterday and spent the entire afternoon dragging my feet before I finally called to schedule my interview at the Consulate in Chicago (it's Friday morning, by the way) because I knew that stupid interview was the last step in getting my visa stamped in my passport. I know I want to go, so I make myself move forward. I know I'll be glad that I did... eventually.

When I get to the end of my life, there are three things I've decided will measure whether I succeeded. There are a lot of things I want to accomplish/be blessed with (get married, have bunches of babies, see my books in a bookstore, be on tv for something exciting, etc), but none of those measure whether my life was a success. I'd love to be a wife one day, but if I'm not, my life wasn't a complete waste. Without these three things, though, I'd consider my life a bit of a disaster: love God, love people, and tell a good story. The first two I can do anywhere, and I sincerely hope I've done a good job with them up to this point. The thing about those two is that you can practice and practice your entire life and never really be perfect at them. Sometimes you'll still focus too many of your prayers on that boy whose eyes make you forget your name, and sometimes you'll still snap when your friend chews like a cow. I can never be perfect, but perfection wasn't really the goal in the first place. It's the practicing that matters. And I can practice those two no matter what continent I'm on.

The third one is a little trickier. I have some good stories so far; I certainly haven't lived under a rock all my life. But the majority of my stories are, well, safe. We almost got arrested sophomore year for breaking and entering... but they let us go because it was an honest mistake. I lived and worked at Disney World for a summer... along with about 15,000 other college kids. I almost died on my way home from England... actually, that's a pretty good story :). But when the characters in my books are having better adventures than I am, something's not quite right. If I can imagine adventures, I can certainly track some down and live them. I want the story of my life to be as much fun as the stories on my hard drive. And that's why I'm moving to Korea.

Korea's not going to be full of adventure every second (well, that depends on how feisty North Korea's feeling this next year). I know there will be times when I'll get home from work, eat ice cream for dinner, and watch Friends dvds until midnight. I know it's not always going to be glamorous and sexy, and that's kind of exciting in itself. I've never lived alone before, and I've never not had friends before. I'm curious to see who I am when there's no one else around. Who am I when I get lost trying to find my own apartment? Who am I when I find a restaurant and can't pronounce a single thing on the menu? Who am I when it's Friday night and I don't have plans, but I have a big city sparkling outside my door? I can't wait for the daily stuff; I can't wait to see who I am when my regular life is stripped away and I have to make a new one all by myself. Maybe adventure isn't just taking a big risk. Maybe the biggest adventure is actually discovering who you really are and embracing it. What the world needs is people who have come alive. Who am I when I've come alive?

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