I know I’ve done it more than a few times, particularly the good times if I get into story-telling mode. Which is a disorder I inherited from my Daddy. It’s really hard for me to resist an appreciative audience to one of my stories – meaning someone to sit still and quiet long enough for me to tell one. And looking back at the nearly three years that Joshimus Rex and I lived together in Hattiesburg, it’s easy to find moments to be shared. And because of how happy we were together and how much we enjoyed the life we were building together, it was even easier to look back and remember the best parts.
But there’s been something going on around here the last several days (nothing to worry about), and it has gotten me in an introspective kind of mood. And tonight my sister came by for a little while, and spending time with my sister tends to get me looking back. So I got to thinking about those first nearly three years. Those were some of the best years of. my. life. I’m not even remotely kidding. I met my husband. I got my first place and paid for it with an awesome job. And on the weekends, I partied and did all the things that you want to do when you’re in your early 20s. And because I was smart about it, I never got hurt or went to jail or ran the risk of losing my job. I was having a great time without being an idiot, and I did it with the man I still have every intention of spending the rest of my life with.
I had it so good in Hattiesburg. We had issues – the kind of stupid shit you go through when you’re 20, the kind of drama that is almost impossible to avoid when you’re surrounded by other people also around that age. There for a little while, Josh and I lived off ramen and hope. But it was so. much. fun. After we got through that first year, we both had solid jobs and a great apartment – and we worked within one mile of where we lived. Even better, we had backup if things went really wrong – my Momma worked within that 1 mile radius, as well – right across the highway from Sir Joshimus. We both worked full-time and had what we needed – along with a couple of great, no fabulous, friends that we spent most of our time with. We really had it made in Hattiesburg.
Leaving was stupid. We had security and made good money. And if I had been willing to see a future in Hattiesburg, it could have been better. Stupid.
But there was a part of myself that was deeply unhappy and dissatisfied. I’ve known since I was at least thirteen years old that Hattiesburg was not my place. And as stupid as it was to leave the security we had there, if we hadn’t, I wouldn’t have made it. I’d have completely lost my mind by now.
We’ve all been there before – maybe working a good job but finding that you’re beyond miserable despite the paycheck? Or maybe you were hanging out with a person or group and just realized, even though they are some of the most welcoming, giving, wonderful people (or more likely they’re actually catty bishes behind people’s backs, but the other is a better comparison to my situation) and you realize that it isn’t the right fit. We all have moments in our life where we know something doesn’t work for us and have to make the decision to walk away from it to find something that makes us happy.
Or maybe, worse, you stay there and accept it as your lot in life not to be happy. If you’re “making do”, please please please reconsider! Because you deserve to be happy unless it comes at the expense of someone else’s happiness – and even that has exceptions. This is not a condemnation of those who are doing whatever it takes to get by – especially if you have children to worry about. You do what you have to do. But always look up, for a better opportunity and one where you can be happy. Always dream.
Because yeah, leaving Hattiesburg was stupid. But, man, knowing what I know, I’d do it all over again. No, I still haven’t found my forever home. But I have lived in one of the largest cities in our country. I have lived in one of the most lovely and charming small towns I’ve ever seen. In both places, I’ve made friends that I adore and would trade for the world. And if we hadn’t lived there and known those people, I would be slowly dying inside in a town that I still love with all my heart, but isn’t my place. I’d be stuck, even more stuck that I was nearly six years ago when Josh and I finally packed our stuff up and left the place where I spent the first 23 years of my life.
I want everyone to understand how good I had it – and for those who knew me back then and maybe have wondered, let them know that I know how good I had it. And maybe – just maybe – through that you may understand why I needed to leave. I know it’s likely still hard for some to understand – I’ve often envied people who fit with where they grew up. Maybe not by someone else’s standards, but by their own. Those people who have known that they would spend the rest of their lives in the same city/county/state that they were born in. Because that very idea terrified me. I was ashamed of that – until I realized that it’s just that I hadn’t found the place that I’m supposed to feel that way about. Yet.
Have you ever looked back at a time in your life and, for once, were able to see it without the filters we tend to put over memories – good or bad? Is there a time that you probably should have another look at? You don’t have to tell me about it. But you should tell yourself about it. It can be cathartic and healing. It can make you laugh or cry. And sometimes, it can give you the strength to do what’s best for you and your family, even if you can’t necessarily explain it to everyone else.