Sometimes I forget that I’m brave, that I’ve done brave things in my life and will do them again. That there’s no quota on the number of times I can jump without a net, or rewrite my own rules. I forget because my life on a day-to-day basis has been quite small, and safe, and even a little boring. This is fine! More people would be happy if they understood a little boring is fine. If there's one secret to life, I think this is it.
I moved to Chicago alone in 1996, without knowing anybody. A few years later I left a good job to freelance full time, and I hired and managed my own team. I had no idea what I was doing and it was the scariest thing I've ever done but I did that myself, and I was successful. I moved to New York alone, I spent a month in Paris alone, I made my own money and paid my own bills and I did okay. I made all of that happen. I took a temp job that turned into a permanent job and I’ve worked there for over six years. It's been a good job. I've been incredibly lucky, but I also worked hard, and I was successful. I made that happen.
It hasn't been easy: I talk a good game but let's not kid ourselves. Near the end of Casablanca, Ilsa says to Rick, "You decide! You think for both of us." I don't have that. Nobody can decide for me, or be brave for me, or catch me if I fall. Other people forget that sometimes, but I never do. I can't afford to. But I promised myself a long time ago that I would never let fear make a decision for me. I have no Rick, but I'm no Ilsa, either.
I told my boss today that I was leaving. We've talked about this before so it wasn't a total surprise to her, but it was a hard thing for me to say out loud. I like this job, the company, my boss, and I'm not leaving because of them. I’m leaving because my priorities have shifted, and I want different things now than I did when I first came here, once upon a time. I have no job yet and no apartment, but I’m ready to move on to something new that is, finally, also familiar—I'm ready for a softer landing.
What I've learned in the past few years—what I know for sure™—is that you can't cling to old dreams, or live on old memories. I know the Chicago I'm moving back to is not the one I left. It moved on without me, too. Some friends are gone and some friendships have ended. "Life is made up of meetings and partings," Kermit tells his frog/pig family in The Muppet Christmas Carol: "That is the way of it." Lord knows I don't believe in God, or frogs breeding with pigs, but to this I say amen.
p.s. clarere audere gaudere