Nothing Ever Changes Except Everything

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about running into my former neighbors. I hadn’t seen this couple in a few years, and though we chatted only briefly, it was long enough for me to learn that virtually nothing had changed in their lives. They still live in the same house, on the same street, in the same neighborhood. And they both still work the same jobs at the same companies. They even looked basically the same, maybe a little grayer, but nothing else was different.

That amazes me, especially considering how – during this same time period – just about every single thing in my life has changed.

John and Terri were the first to buy a house on that street. It was a new development and, while our own house was nothing more than a wooden skeleton in the mud, they were already living next door. This was in 1995. God, the 90s – an amazing decade – were only half over. Now that time period seems like ancient history, Gin Blossoms CDs and Lilith Fair ticket stubs serving as dusty relics of a bygone era. Portland wasn’t even cool yet! But for John and Terri, it might as well still be 1995.

Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve lived through two or three different lives since the day I first parked the U-Haul in the driveway. Things are so vastly different now than they were then, and I can’t help but wonder if the changes I’ve experienced during the intervening years are higher than the norm, or whether John and Terri just happen to lead exceptionally stable lives. During this period, I have: gotten divorced, moved, been involved in several relationships, worked at five different jobs, and been unemployed twice. These are all considered to be major life-changing events, which just goes to prove that my life has changed. Again, and again, and again. While theirs has not. At least not on so grand a scale.

Hold on - bumpy ride ahead!
Hold on – bumpy ride ahead!

I look at my closest friends to see if I am, indeed, unique. When I first met Monica a dozen years ago, she was married and living in Denmark. She has since divorced that guy, moved to California, remarried, and enrolled in college. Lots of changes there. Heidi was married, unhappy, and “working for the man.” Now she is separated, in a relationship with somebody else, owns her own business and is living in a different city. Her life is certainly different. And of course, there’s Tara. She’s been through about as many changes as I have in the past ten years. It appears, then, that the friends I have surrounded myself with and identify most closely to, are those that have been through a number of big life-changing events over the years, as well.

Interesting. I wonder if this is a subconscious attempt at making my own life appear less rocky in comparison?

Because John and Terri aren’t the only ones still living on that street. The fact is, the majority of folks who lived there in the 90s are still there today. That concept seems alien to me. Then again, I’ve always been the one moving around, never staying in the same place for long. I was a military brat, after all. The one constant in my life has been change. But you know what? I think this has made me a better person. I have never been one to settle, because life is too short, and you only get one shot. (Unless reincarnation is real, but if that’s the case, I’m lobbying to come back as a cat. I’d love to sleep for 21 freakin’ hours a day). If I want something, I go for it – and more often than not, I get it. This determination (or stubbornness) has paid off time and again, and I have no doubt it will continue to do so. Change isn’t easy, but happiness is worth the sacrifice and struggle.

I sometimes think, what if I had never had the courage to take control of my life seven years ago? What if I were still living in that same house, on the same street, in the same neighborhood? I shudder when my mind goes there, and wonder how I would ever have the audacity to look at myself in the mirror every morning. Because the face staring back at me would be that of a stranger’s, and not my own.

Funny how a random encounter with the past can make one so contemplative of the present, and so optimistic for the future.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

16 thoughts on “Nothing Ever Changes Except Everything

  1. Seriously man, you need to get started on that “I Want To Be A Cat Dammit” manuscript before someone else gets the idea. I can only imagine what it would be like to stay in one place for more than five years. I never have.


  2. Fab post topic, Mark!

    “Change isn’t easy, but happiness is worth the sacrifice and struggle.”

    You said it, buddy. I’m a lot like you in that I’ve had a hefty amount of change in my 57 years (changes in locations, careers, interests). It seems that every 10 years or so, I change something big in my life. And to be honest, I love being this way because regardless of whether we like or not, life has a way of making change happen anyway. So we might as well embrace change as a natural flow of life.

    I live in a very old city where people don’t like change, and they do everything they can to avoid it. They want everything to stay exactly as it was when they were born here. I kinda scare a lot of people here because my perspective about life is very different than theirs.

    Life is meant to move forward and morph.

    Again, fab post!


    1. I guess I can understand that, given the fact that Philadelphia is such a historic city, but there are ways to blend the past with the present. People shouldn’t be so resistant to modernization and change.


  3. Late, catching up again. Until I met hubby I was pretty stable, but since I met hubby, I have moved 8 times in 17 years, across 3 provinces, held more jobs than I had in the whole rest of my life. I don’t know who I would have been if I had stayed in Wpg. & not re-married.


  4. At 63 I have had enough adventure and am content with my fairly reclusive life. But I embraced change, like you have, years ago and am glad I did. One key is not to be afraid of it. Look at what learning some basic computer skills after retirement has done for me as re my blog. The status quo of our contemporary times is that there is no status quo.


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