Wednesday, May 2, 2007

We Are Family

Have I mentioned recently that work has been really busy? Well, I think things might be slowing down a little; I actually don’t feel so panicked that I’m unable to write a blog entry. I try to avoid turning on a computer when I’m home (since I’ve spent my entire day in front of one), so if I don’t write at work, I won’t write at all.

Yesterday, before I left work, I sent out an e-mail to all my friends and family asking for their help in raising money for a Cystic Fibrosis (CF) fundraiser I’m participating in in a couple of weeks. In December, close friends of SH and I had a baby. After a series of complications following the birth, they discovered that she has CF. That was devastating news. CF is a terrible genetic disease that has no cure and very few treatment options. It generally affects the lungs and digestive system. Many children with CF spend a lot of time in hospitals and most people don’t live past their 30s. It was a real kick in the gut to have close friends facing this situation and the diagnosis made everyone we know feel really helpless. The enormity of things that can go wrong with having a baby has weighed on me ever since. But I decided I needed to be proactive and wanted to do something to help. So I joined our friends’ team of walkers and am helping to raise money to fund CF research. When I came into work today and checked my e-mail four people had already donated. It actually brought tears to my eyes. My friends and family have never met my California crew, so they were just giving money out of the kindness of their hearts. I was surprised by how emotional that made me.

I have been blessed with a great family and wonderful friends. Once I left home for college (3000 miles away), I never moved back. I’ve lived in different parts of the country and the world and I’ve always managed to find really amazing people to be friends with. In each city that I’ve started over in, I’ve found a new family. Without them, I would be totally lost and unhappy. SH and I have been in LA for almost five years now and we have established a solid life with people we love.

As we get closer to getting married and having kids we are being forced to consider where we might want to spend our lives. The thought of starting over somewhere new is no longer appealing. In the past I used to love the idea of continually mixing things up by moving to a new city and starting over. I just don’t want to do that anymore. I like the security of having a support system, knowing people so well that I don’t have to explain myself over and over, seeing friends through important milestones, knowing I can call on someone to help me when I really need it. I’m at the point where I like these securities.

BUT. We live in LA and this is not an easy place to have financial security. Most likely we won’t be able to buy a house here. The public school system isn’t the best. Sometimes I get tired of big city living. Our alternative is moving back to Oregon, where I grew up. Portland is a nice city, it’s more affordable than LA, I have a network of friends there, and my family is nearby. These are appealing things, yet I like my life here and I don’t feel ready to leave. No one is pushing me to try to make a decision now, but sometimes I have to wonder whether delaying a move will hurt us in the long run. I feel like I need to plan ahead because houses are still affordable in Portland, the place where SH would most likely work is on a hiring spree, and it’s less complicated to move when we don’t have kids. But I’m not ready and I hate the idea of leaving my LA family.

Connected to all this is my desire to travel, to see the world, and to live in foreign countries. Travel is my only passion. It makes me excited. I dream about it. Travel energizes me in ways that nothing else in life can. I basically measure the success of my life on the amount that I can travel. It’s not a competition with other people, it’s more a competition with myself. I feel like so much of my life is made up of routine that the only way I can feel good about who I am is to do things that make big memories, memories that will stand above the routine, that provide excitement and good stories. I want to be able to tell my grandchild about things I did in my life and have them look at me with wonderment and excitement. “You lived in Africa?” “YOU played rugby?” “You traveled across the country with a band?” “You met the Vice President and the Secretary of State?” “That’s so cool!” I need adventure. I need to keep mixing things up. I can’t live an ordinary life. We only get one shot at this and I want to do it right.

So there’s a piece of me that really wants to try to live in other countries. SH could easily get jobs in New Zealand or Australia because of his work connections. I want to do that. It makes such a difference to live somewhere rather than just traveling there. You get to know the people and the place and have so many opportunities to see different things. Plus, it gives you a different jumping off point in the world to travel to different countries. But. I don’t really want to start over again. I don’t want to leave my family. And there’s the part of me that argues with that: You only have one shot! Just go for it!

I know I’m lucky to have so many choices and to have lived a good life so far. I shouldn’t even complain. It’s just that I want to make the right decisions. I want to plan the course of my life well. I don’t want to regret not doing something. Sometimes I just don’t know when to push myself and when to just be still and appreciate what I have for as long as I can.

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