I am stuck. I am trying to figure out how my feet ended up anchored in the thick mud that holds me back from new dreams and aspirations. Years ago, when the kids were younger, and when I was younger, I could effortlessly pick up on a whim and relocate our lives to some of my favorite places in the world. I tried desperately to convince my husband to move to Costa Rica, Barcelona and San Diego. At the time, he was the one who was stuck and could not push himself to take risks and live outside his comfort zone. Now, the tables have turned, and I am the one who is stuck and undeniably controlled by the future no matter how much I strive to live in the present.
I don't want to return to New York City. There is actually nothing I really miss about it except the memories that we have built there, which I can carry with me anywhere. As we explore our absolutely gorgeous country I realize that we would have to be insane to return to a city laden with crime, litter, crowds and far-left liberals. Yet, even though we have completely fallen in love with Carmel, CA I just can't seem to pull the trigger on making a move and my mind refuses to embrace images of what a new life here would look like.
These are all new emotions to me. I am not one to be attached to materialism so it is easy for me to leave behind the new furniture we purchased right before the pandemic when we redecorated our apartment or the things we have accumulated over the twelve years in our apartment. That's just stuff. I always truly felt that as long as I have my health and my family I can be anywhere with everything I need. Yet, these days I am attached to that apartment, sitting empty and alone all these months we've been on the road with no sounds of laughter, arguments or visitors filling its space. This vacant space has taken on a whole new meaning.
I'm stuck. I am chained to our NYC home where our children have been raised and filled the air with the most incredible energy. As they are getting older by the second ( now 14, 12 and 10) I fear that somewhere new, the air in the house would be different. Additionally, my mind reasons that if we stay in NYC, there is a much higher chance of keeping my children nearby when they enter adulthood. I have convinced myself that somehow we will all stay connected as they build their lives somewhere in the tri-state area. This seems like a very realistic outcome to me. New York also has many great colleges and it is likely that two out of three of my nuggets would stay local. On the other hand, Carmel has no good universities nearby. Should we move here, I have 100% chance of all three of them leaving for college. The chances of them living outside of Carmel post-studies are also extremely high as there is no major industry here. Moving to Carmel guarantees a future where we are all living in different cities and states. This is not something I can risk.
My husband pokes fun at my obsessive, strategic planning. He is uncertain that NYC will ever return to being the epi-center of opportunity. In his mind, the kids may be forced to leave NYC anyway because new cities will rise offering better opportunities and quality of life. Better yet, he is not as attached to making our decisions based on the likelihood of where our children will end up as adults because he insists that it is an impossible prediction.
I'm stuck. Time is passing at lighting speed and I can't think clearly. I have my children by my side 24/7 these days and I struggle with imagining a life without them as close to me as possible. Unlike in the past when I could easily visualize picking up and moving anywhere in the world because they were so little and it seemed like I had countless years ahead with them, these days I realize the days are fleeting and that every move I make is crucial in determining the next outcome.
I'm stuck in this wonderful bubble of exploring the United States and all the incredible sights and smells it has to offer with my children in constant tow. The catch is knowing the bubble can burst at any moment. Fear has gotten the best of me, clouding my judgment and drowning my intuition.
I also realize that there is an unhealthy relationship with attachment here. Have I become too dependent on my kids? Have I become too dependent on the life we have created over the last twenty-two years back in Manhattan? I need to work through these feelings. I must. I must pull free of the quicksand that keeps pulling me tighter into its grasp. I want the old me back that had big dreams of living abroad and could act on them with a snap of a finger because nothing was holding her back.
A good friend reminded me the other day that I am still a risk-taker. He pointed out that taking this road trip is a risk and that he has no concern of me losing my bounce. He continued to cheer me up by pointing out how much he admires how my family is spending our time making memories on the road during these uncertain days. These words were really helpful in encouraging me to step back and see that the flame is still burning somewhere inside me. Getting on the road for at least eight months is not a small feat and something that I know most people dream of but are perhaps too stuck in their own ways to materialize. It's what will happen after this road trip that haunts me. Will I be able to release the grip of fear, pack up twelve years of memories and start a new life elsewhere? Can I leave behind a city that I spent the last twenty-two years of my live in? Or will I give in to the relentless pull of comfort, complacency and the hopeful but unpredictable outcome of where my children will choose to live as adults?
At dinner the other evening, I mentioned to my family that wherever we end up I hope that we can all make an agreement to end up on the same side of the country within driving distance of one another once they are all done with their college studies. My older one jumped in to share that he wants to be near each other but thinks it's unfair to ask for a commitment for something so far away. "True", I agreed as I lied through my teeth. Though is it fair that life blesses you with children who you love and adore more than you ever thought you were capable of loving anything and then after eighteen years of building a life with them, and around them, they just leave to begin their own lives? That's not fair. At all. In my next life, please universe, bring me back as a seal so I can wean my pups and set them free after just three weeks. This is a much less cruel and torturous existence for a mom. How will I ever, ever survive an empty nest?
Ok, I am getting way ahead of myself. There are just too many thoughts circulating in my mind constricting my ability to enjoy new possibilities. I am stuck for sure but I know that I will set free of the grasp and one way or another make a decision that is best for me and my family. For now, we won't make any decisions regarding the future and will happily cling to the present so please don't ask me if we are coming back to New York or moving somewhere else. This seemingly innocuous question is pretty loaded. Until I can set myself free of these attachments I won't be able to think clearly and the first task at hand is to not think ahead and to instead nurture the bohemian in me to continue leading us on this glorious road trip. For now, regardless of where we end up, the most important thing is that we are together and that if we are stuck, we are stuck together.