Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Other Side of the Fence

I have this fear. It's not something I talk about, or something I even think about too often. But it's there, and it seems to be gaining strength as my life moves forward. I'm sure it's something others fear, but of course as most fears go, it seems unique to me. It's not a fear of heights, or spiders (though I really don't like creepy crawly things), or even any one of a thousand phobias that seem to plague the world of dysfunctional humans. No, my fear is not so much on the surface, it is more inward.

I fear that I will never really be happy. I don't mean that I'm not a happy person in general, because I am. Most people that know me would probably describe me as fun, silly, goofy, easy to be general a happy person. But I am one of these people that is always thinking life would be better if I were living somewhere else, if I were doing something else, and sometimes - if I were with someone else. I fear that I will live my life forever longing for a different career, a different person to be with, a different place to live. I fear I suffer from "grass is always greener" syndrome.

I've felt this way for as long as I can remember. Maybe it started when I was in eighth grade, after my parents divorced and it was just mom and me in a new city. I ached for the way things used to be, the house we used to live in, the friends I used to have. I would walk the mile back and forth to school every day, imagining what it would be like to move back home. Everything would be perfect then. Eventually we did move home, and though it wasn't perfect, I was happy to be back. But something had changed, I had disconnected from things. There was a wall up now that hadn't been there before. Sometimes I wondered if we would have been better off staying in the new town. Sometimes I wondered what it would be like to go back. And so began the cycle.

I went about my life, coasting along, becoming part of the local scene in my hometown, yet always feeling like an outsider looking in. When I went backpacking in Europe, I think I felt truly comfortable for the first time in my life. Friendships were fast and furious - a few days in Paris, a week or so in Rome, bouncing from place to place - friend to friend - quick good-byes and then on to the next adventure. Nobody got too close, and no real time to wonder what might have been.

In Australia, I was more than comfortable, I was truly at home. I fell in love with the country, a boy, everything that was Australia. I never wanted to come home. This was home. But life has a funny way of tossing you curve balls when things seem perfect, and two years later I was back in the states, wishing I was in Sydney, where everything seemed so right. For years I lived my life in the state of "temporary". I wanted back to Sydney so bad I could think of nothing else. I wouldn't get in a serious relationship (why bother? I'd be going back soon), I wouldn't go on trips (why waste the money? I need it for Sydney), I wouldn't even get a magazine subscription...until finally I couldn't take it anymore. I knew I wouldn't be going back to live there. It was the time I was there that made it perfect, going back could only lead to disappointment.

I decided to stay in Jersey and make a life for myself. But again, life threw me a curve ball. Somehow my brother convinced me to move to Florida. The excitement of a new place and a new life brought back that old feeling of anticipation. Is that my problem? Am I an anticipation junkie? Possibly. I don't know. All I know is that now I am at another crossroads: it's been close to five years here in Florida, and I'm not really happy - again. The heat is oppressive, the people are obnoxious (not all, but the majority), and the payrate for teachers is among the lowest in the country. I have friends I love, and family (though having family here is both an argument for and against staying here, if you know what I mean). Do I stay, make a real life for myself, and let go of the past? Or do I give in to this ache I am feeling and move back to Jersey? I miss the change of seasons, the smell of the ocean (you don't smell it in Florida for some reason), and knowing just about everyone in town (and the pay is substantially better). Florida does offers a lot more opportunity to meet someone - my hometown, well, not a lot of single men with a full set of teeth left. I wish I just knew what to do. Why can't I just be happy? Why is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? I just want to settle down and just be - on the right side of the fence.

It's so not fair that life doesn't come with an instruction manual.


Loz said...

you should move back to sydney.

i know where you're coming from, i have the exact same fear, i just express mine differently. i panic that i'm going to wake up one morning and be 50 years old and nothing will be any different.

MoDigli said...

I enjoyed this alot. It's funny cause you usually write your posts in a way that start off as being possibly serious; and then just when I least expect it I get the one-two punch-line.

As I was reading in the beginning I was sort of expecting to get hit with a punchline, but it didn't happen.

Man, life is so damn confusing. When you make a choice there is nothing to tell you whether or not it's the "Right" thing to do until you've lived it and figured it out. Then, it could be too late to go back to before.

I can relate to your feelings of "grass-is-greener-itis". Sometimes it causes me to feel unable to make any choices whatsoever. It makes me paralyzed. Which is why I'm still exactly where I'm at.

Getting to know you thru your blog, Brooke, has been great. I really admire your adventurousness. I've even felt envious of your many travels and living situations abroad.

I don't know what the answer is. But I do know revisiting old places: whether they are geographic places or even relationship places, causes confusion. I hope you can figure out what will truly make you happy! In fact, I hope we all can figure it out. God knows I could use a little guidance myself!

yournamehere said...

Brooke, I'd give you advice but I don't know what the hell I'm doing, either. I thought I'd spend a year in Vegas, tops. Now it's been two and a half years and I don't want to do anything permanent because I always think I'll be moving back home.
Just like you, I'm never really happy. I've regretted moving here since the day I stepped off the plane, but if I moved back to Louisville the rest of my life would be "What if...?" I need to be independently wealthy, damn it.
Sorry I couldn't be of any help.

Harley Quinn said...

Sunday, June 12th

I can completely relate. I wish I had more than an ear to offer. (hugs)

Evil Petting Zoo said...
Pay attention to #s 10,8,3.

I seriously feel you on this. I tend to get restless myself. There are/were so many things I want/ed to do and I feel like I'm drifting sometimes.
Pay attention the third to last paragraph.
Dating in Anytown USA seems to be tough.

For me what works is saying fuck it and doing for me. I spent a good chunk of my life sacrificing now it's my turn. Make a plan. Follow the plan. That's what works for me. Maybe it will for you. Part one of my plan is done. Part two starts Monday.

In closing I'd like to point out:
a lot of what you posted about is in there in so many words....

Mariangela said...

I'm right there with ya!

Brookelina said...

I know this was a bit more serious than my usual blogs, and I actually did start to go in the direction of humor (see Mo, you do know me well), but it just didn't feel right. I actually wanted to get my real feelings out without masking it behind humor - so this was something different for me. It's so good to know that I'm not the only one that doesn't have it all figured out. I had no idea that so many of you had written things about this very dilemma.

Brookelina said...

Oh I just have to add a little something here. I was up way too early this morning so I thought I would take advantage of the 500 channels of digital cable mom has here - and I started watching that Olsen twins movie - which is as bad as you would imagine. However, in one scene a woman says to them "It's the curve balls that make life interesting." Who would have thought I'd get words of wisdom from an Olsen twins movie? lol

MoDigli said...

I liked the more serious tone. It was sorta like the curve ball of your blog; which makes you all the more interesting! .... Oh those Olsen twins are just brimming with wisdom. Who knew?!

yournamehere said...

There was an old saying that went "You can never be too rich or too thin," but the Olsen twins really blew that one out of the water.

Anonymous said...

Some places really DO suck.

Florida is pretty much one of them.

You are not going to be happy with some random need to find somewhere you really love, not just vegetate in a random place.

Übermilf said...

I think part of the problem is we think perfect happiness is possible. Please don't minsunderstand me -- I'm not saying to just plug along because you'll never be happy. I'm just saying things are never PERFECT. Expecting them to be will just drive you crazy.

But it seems you know that Sydney is home. So??? Go!

Brookelina said...

mister underhill - well said. Thanks. I think you are right about finding the place I love - and it ain't Florida.

uber - I do love Sydney, but it's not home anymore. Now, if I hit the lottery, then I'd definitely get myself a second home there!

thanks to all for the great advice, it means a lot. :)

Brian said...

Great post Brooke. I so enjoy reading your stuff. I can totally relate. I think all it would take to make me happy is hacing as many comments as you on my blog. I'm very easy to please. Sometimes I see these people who have no boundaries. They move from city to city, and can just up and leave anytime they get a notion. Surely you know the kind of people that I am talking about. But I think you have to sacrifice a good amount of stability for freedom. And you just have to make the choice about which one is more important for you.

Derek said...

Interesting I would elaborate but then I would be like everyone else

Shan'Chelle said...

Wow, I am at just such a crossroads. Fear can be a paralyzing emotion and I wish you much wisdom and clarity in figuring out what you will do. I am sure that you will end up where you are meant to be, curveballs have a way of redirecting you when you stray from your intended path. Sometimes the tangent your life takes you on can be so enjoyable that we run the risk of missing out on something we were meant to experience elsewhere. Enter "curveball" to get you where you need to be. At least that is how I see it.

Anonymous said...

I guess what you can take from this is that you're not alone. We all feel pretty much like this a lot of the time. There are very few people in the world that find themselves 100% happy with everything all the time.

I totally agree with Ubermilf that things will never be perfect. It's not a negetive thing it's just that whatever do or where ever we go it always ends up becoming mundane. You know what "they" say about familiarity breeding contempt.

Life's just a ride. Enjoy it and don't worry too much - it'll send you round the bend.

gone said...

My personal philosophy is, and always has been (and this may seem a little bleak)...

"You won't be happy anywhere until you are happy where you are."

You see, for me, location has little to do with your true feeling of contentment, because when you move from one place to the next, it'll be "the same shit in a different place," to use cliche-sounding phraseology.

It's nice to read your serious tone. Now...on with the funny!

Brookelina said...

I do know nothing is ever perfect, believe me. Perfection would be so boring!! I just don't want to be wishing I were elsewhere forever. So the decision at this point is to give Florida another year - I have a great job offer that I start in August. I want to give myself every opportunity here before I move on. Thanks guys!!

And if anyone else has something to say, please do!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I wasn't expressing it the right way, but as my father said to me once, "Don't wish your life away wanting to be somewhere else. It's all gone before you know it. Try and enjoy the now as much as you can." Or something like that. I always think of that when I feel I should be somewhere else.

Brookelina said...

You are totally right whiteboy. Love that name by the way!

Anonymous said...

Thanks :0)

I actually stole it from an Elmore Leonard book (also a flim starring George Clooney and Ving Rhames).

Brookelina said...

I knew I had heard that before!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think a sense of belonging in the place where you live is really important in life. I happen to like Florida but I have had friends who couldn't stand it here and went on to be much happier in other areas of the country. Best of luck to you in whatever you end up choosing to do.

As for the happiness question... just try to take it one day at a time. That's all we're ever really given, and it could end at any time. Enjoy the ride.


Brookelina said...

Sunshine, I love your name and your picture! I checked out your blog, and I too am a second career teacher. Glad you found me!