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.
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.