I couldn't sleep. I left Rosa snoring in the bed and rode my bike downtown. The cool night air belied the scorching hot day previously and the day ahead. I felt strange riding my bike so late as if the police were watching me upon those deserted streets. The prying eyes of this small town are always on the lookout and forever vigilant.
When we are missing, people look for us. There was a time in my life that I could have gone missing for weeks and no one would care or come looking. When someone is gone, we imagine the best for them and the worst for us. Oftentimes, our imagination is crueler than reality. We’ll whine to our friends, using words like “depressed” and “miss” interchanged with “so much!” That was the kind of greeting Rosa gave me when I walked in the door a moment ago and I encouraged her to go back to sleep. "I was so worried about you," she said. "You just disappeared." "I had to get out and clear my head," I replied sleepily.
It's funny how life works out sometimes -- the little support groups we build around us. Much like this blog and it's readers, I have a support group in real life. Rosa. My father. The little my mother can do. It is hard to think that three years ago they weren't in my life and I was sitting in some tent in the wild woods of Alabama. Homeless. Cold, shivering, and all alone. I still have so many questions about how I let life get that way. You have to live life with unanswered questions though; there isn't always a why. People paint rectangular sentences, rounding them off with, "there is a reason for everything." Doors shut and windows open suddenly, and "meant to be" sticks in your craw like thick marmalade. Counselors and life coaches speak of it flippantly, as if speaking of a divorce or an act of God. "It was meant to be," they say. They don't attempt these clichés when faced with something as horrible as a child dying of cancer. It certainly wasn't "meant to be" then. Do you honestly believe that child died to teach you a lesson?
Such is how I feel about my homeless days and my alcoholism. It just was. There was no grand plan by some higher being to teach me a lesson. I made terrible choices and it took me down an errant path. I am still making choices every day. Some good. Some bad. You learn through this process which choices bring the best results. I call it growing up. Most people take becoming an adult for granted, but those of us stunted by our addictions and mental illnesses never do until very late in life. There are some that will never grow up -- forever caught in the mentality of a child and drifting through life like a lost puppy.
Growing up is no small task for me. It's is much easier to be stagnant, alone, drunk, homeless, and isolated. The fear and anxiety of tackling that undiscovered country of adulthood is almost overwhelming. So I'll continue facing that fear and anxiety, but I will try to face it without acting on impulse. You see what impulse got me last night. Instead, I'll know that this change -- this adulthood -- I'm trying to own is "meant to be." I’m open, full of hope, taking in a deep breath, and exhaling slowly, letting the worry melt off my back. It’s more than a beginning. It’s an answer.