I miss home, more than I thought I would. Sure, I expected to feel some amount of longing for the town and area I lived in for my entire life, but this is different. As much as I’ve worked to fill my apartment with pieces of what I thought was home, I’m starting to realize that the things that made home can’t be bought, and may never be replaced.
Home was comfort and safety. It was Mom and Dad and Grandpa Lewis. It was friends who knew me better than I knew me. It was weekend trips to my Aunt Edna’s farm. It was memories and stories and that feeling of being where I belonged and fit in and didn’t have to try too hard.
Home is mostly gone. Some of that was my fault, not keeping in touch with friends after high school is an easy way to make them old high school friends. Some of home died when I lost Grandpa, a lot of it when I lost Dad, and most of what remained went with Mom. By the time the physical house I lived in came down, there wasn’t much left for me to miss from it.
So home is gone, maybe forever, and that’s a really hard pill to swallow.
It’s been just over a year since I took the biggest chance of my life, one year since I packed everything I could into an old rusted minivan and moved 2 hours from the only place I ever called home. That day, my biggest fear was that I would break down and be left stranded on the highway halfway between where I was and where I was going. But somehow I made it to Cedar Rapids, and my new life was off and running.
The immediate fear of just getting where I was going was a daily concern for the first month, with me literally praying some mornings that the old van would just get me to work and back. But I was soon able to upgrade my wheels to something much more reliable, which brought on the fear of making the payments. No biggie, I’ll just swap the huge fear for a comparatively tiny one.
Once I got my driving situation shored up, it was time to find a place to live. At times in my life I was afraid that I would never live on my own, destined to spend my days with only the bare minimum of privacy. Once I started the apartment search, that fear became a multitude of them. Can I afford any of these? Will any of them accept me? Can I really live on my own?
As I was wrestling with all of those fears, I was still dealing with the fears that came with such a drastic career change. Can I do this? Do I want to do this? Will I ever be seen as anything more than just the big guy who can lift the heavy things? Then I got promoted to the kind of job I thought I wanted, but it came with a move to the night shift. Can I work nights again? Can I keep up with the job? Is today the day I get that tap on the shoulder telling me to go back to lifting the heavy things?
As scary as all thos fears are, they pale in comparison to the one I have dealt with since day one: the fear of being alone. I readily admit that I sucked at maintaining friendships and relationships with people I’ve known my whole life, and now I’m being asked to find new friends in a completely different city. One year after my move, I still only have one person I consider my friend, and she’s the reason I was able to do this in the first place. I can’t afford to live without her, but I’m scared that if I don’t do something, I’ll chase her away.
I know how to live without a good job, or my own place, or even a good car. I don’t know how to live without someone else who truly cares. That’s the real fear I’m fighting.
Life changes fast. That’s been true in my life, and the changes have come fast and hard in the past year. I lost my mom, had to move out of the only home I’ve ever known, and found myself under the kind of money pressure that forced me to accelerate the search for my future. In all of these cases, I made the mistake of allowing the world to force changes upon me, making me react and putting me in situations that set me back from where I wanted to be.
That stops now. For the first time in a long time, I’ve made my own swift change.
Radio has been pretty good to me, but I now know that the only way to make a living in it is to make sacrifices and choices that I just don’t see as worth it. So after some soul searching and pondering, I decided to dive head first into finding the kind of job that challenges me and takes me back to my roots. Little did I know that in order to find my roots, I would end up deciding to leave my roots.
Starting in mid-May, I’ll start work as an Assember at the Whirlpool Amana plant. I’ll be spending my days making fridges and freezers, a far cry from producing radio shows but the kind of thing I watched my Mom and Dad do in Grandpa’s shop when I was a kid. I’ll also be moving to Cedar Rapids, staying with my closest friend and biggest cheerleader until I save up enough to finally live on my own.
Like most of the change in my life, this happened fast. From application to setting a start date, the whole process took just over a week. In an other two weeks, I’ll be walking out of a job I first stumbled into 18 years ago and stepping into one of the biggest challenges of my life. I have no idea what the future brings, but for once I’m gambling on myself.