# of pages revised: 21
# of literary mags submitted to: 2
I moved to Cape Cod in July of 2012 to take a year off from teaching and focus on writing and figuring out what I really wanted from life.
In the summer and early fall, people would always ask me, “so what are you going to do when your time in Cape Cod is up?”
“I don’t know,” I told them cheerfully. “I’m choosing not to think about that right now.”
I wanted to focus on the present – focus on writing without clogging up my brain with preparations for the future. I figured that in March I would start thinking about my next steps, and until then…I wouldn’t. This was a new way of life for me. I’d always tried to plan for the future, and this time I was leaving it empty on purpose.
Now that my time in Cape Cod is coming to an end, people are starting to ask again – what’s the plan? I know that I will move out of Nate and Nikki’s house in mid to late March. Where will I go? I don’t know. What will I do? Not really sure. Am I worried about it?
Surprisingly, I’m not.
Of course, I do have two jobs that I can do from anywhere, which makes this uncertainty not quite so scary. One of these jobs is Skype-tutoring Ukrainians. I had not planned on doing this, but I find that my relationship with Sergey has really enriched my life these past few months. He can be very wise, often without meaning to be.
The other day we were reviewing vocabulary words, and I asked him what the word despair meant.
“It is when you cannot find the exit to your problems,” he said.
I thought that was very profound. He asked me what profound meant.
“When something is very deep and important,” I told him. “In an intellectual or spiritual way.”
* * *
“I might be frustrated with my life sometimes,” I told my boyfriend yesterday, “but I am so much happier now than I was this time last year.”
Last year I was teetering on the edge of misery with my long commute and my long hours and my lonely life. My existence seemed full of drudgery and practically devoid of meaning. I felt overworked and utterly drained. I wanted to look for a new job and a new place to live, but I felt like I didn’t have the time or the energy.
“I don’t even know what type of job to look for anyway,” I told my friend Nikki on the phone one day. “I don’t know where I want to live. I don’t even know what I want to do with myself. I just know that I don’t want to do this anymore. When I think about myself doing all of this again next year, I just feel so tired.”
I told Nikki that I wished I had time to write, but I didn’t see how that would ever be possible.
Two days later, she offered me a “writer in residence” position in her home in Cape Cod and asked me how soon I could be there.
* * *
I was lucky. I was looking for an exit to my problems, and Nikki showed me an entrance into a new situation. But I doubt it always happens like that. I think a lot of people can’t find the exit to their problems because they are waiting to find an exit that is, simultaneously, an entrance into contentment or perfection.
Sometimes you have to exit your problems and then wander around for awhile in the cold rain until you find the door into a warmer, brighter house. The new house will still be a fixer-upper, mind you. But it will be something you’re actually excited about working on. It will be a life you can live in comfortably, happily, at least for a time.
The thing is, you’ll never find that new door if you don’t leave the old house.
It’s definitely weird for me to look into my future and see emptiness after the Ides of March. But I’m not worried about my lack of solid plans. I’m excited to see what will happen. I know that the first step is to exit. The second step is to search. It’s only the last step that is to find.