I don’t always screw my life over, but when I do, it’s always to epic proportions.
I am writing this after spending exactly seven weeks and one day with a guy I initially fell head over heels over. It went well…at first. We were instantly enamored with each other and “felt a special energy” about each other. Before even meeting him, he offered to take care of my bills for a little while in exchange for spending some time with him. This was at a time when my gas station job was unstable at best, with fuel shipments not coming in or the gas pumps’ systems constantly going offline. So when he made the offer to quit my job and be his adventure buddy, I gave it all of one hour to think about how exciting it would be to not have to deal with a dysfunctional work environment and I enthusiastically said “yes” to his offer. Never did I give much thought into thinking about what would happen when shit hit the fan.
A couple weeks went by, and he was set to travel to Louisiana for an event. At the very last second, he gave me the offer to come travel with him and his 38-foot 1991 Monaco RV. After all, what else did I have to do, he said. With only three seconds to make the choice, I decided to come with him on the journey.
The trip there was long, but getting to travel to different states initially felt exhilarating. For a bit of context, my travel adventures were limited to multiple yearly trips to the Oregon coast, the state of Washington for extended maternal family events, a ten-day immediate family excursion to my grandmother’s Kona, HI condominium, and California to check out Disneyland, Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco. Much of the trip there (and back) was staring at desert horizons and flat grounds ─ definitely a far cry to the luscious green trees and hilly roads that I was used to with Oregon. But the highlight of the journey was a quick day-trip to The Grand Canyon.
Once there, I got a week to myself in a Covington, LA RV park to write, be alone while my friend attended his event, and have plenty of time to sit down and relax after traveling for thousands of miles. I tried to get started on my memoir without much luck. But overall, it wasn’t too bad. The RV has a decent surround sound system, and I always had someone to talk to via the wonders of social media.
Things started going south (pun somewhat intended given my Louisiana location) when my partner came back from his event. I won’t say too much, but there were a lot of misunderstandings and a lot of red flags that I felt came up during his return. On our way home, things escalated to the point where he felt like I wasn’t wanting to be on this journey at all. But the fact of the matter was that I was just homesick. Regardless of his belief that “the RV is our home” ─ It wasn’t. It was his home. ─ the fact of the matter was that I hadn’t been home in ages. I missed its comforts, I missed my friends and family, and I was worried about not being able to make it to my aunt’s Father’s Day celebration. Especially when I heard reports from home that my grandfather’s health wasn’t the best.
At the end of the day, there were just too many differences. The partner had quit all prospects of working for the man at a Subaru sales representative to be a nomad (I refuse to use the word he used as it’s a slur). While he trusted that the Universe would take care of him, I had a more realistic approach to life. I needed money to survive. To pay bills and hopefully have a little money leftover for myself. I had done the “kindness of strangers” route strictly out of necessity whilst homeless, and I vowed never to go down that route again. And yet here I am, sitting down at my laptop and finding myself in a similar predicament. I am jobless, I just got back from seven weeks of fucking around only to find out that I am now empty. If this journey was successful, I would have had something to write home about. But since the trip’s only highlight was thirty minutes at the Grand Canyon, my first “gentleman’s club” experience at some sleazy Oklahoma strip club the partner was adamant about revisiting (he had Basic Training in the city years ago), and a couple of Whataburger trips, I don’t have anything to say for myself other than the fact that I feel that I have failed myself.
I arrived home via a gracious friend who offered to take me from Vancouver to Wilsonville without questioning me. Upon getting to my apartment, my roommate was, to my luck, too exhausted to talk. I have since been collecting my thoughts, catching up with loved ones, and trying to think of a game plan for what comes next after my complete and utter failure.
So, what comes next?
Well, for starters, I am meditating on this experience. I am taking it all in and mentally taking notes on what I did wrong so I know to never walk down that path again. To acknowledge red flags. To make sure I have back up plans in case things take a turn for the worst.
Secondly, I am also thinking about the next steps I need to take in order to get myself back up on my feet, getting away from this feeling of utter failure. I have a list of all the potential jobs I would like to apply for, such as 7-Eleven or Costco. It may not be the office job I would like to have, but I need something ─ anything ─ to get me working again and get a paycheck coming in on a regular basis. And to be frank, as much as I dreaded my gas station job, I do miss the feeling of working hard in order to pay for my apartment and other needs.
Thirdly, I am not going to just date anyone from here on out. I am going to actually take the time to really get to know people and not let emotions get in the way. But more than that, I need to invest time in my friends. I’ll admit that I am bad at devoting time to have lunch or simply hang out with the people who I consider my favorites. My ride-or-die dear friends. People who will actually be there at the end of the day.
Fourthly, I am not letting failure define me. Yes, I feel as though I threw away seven weeks of my life for something that ended in a disaster, but I also am trying to learn from it. And that’s all I can do right now: learn from my mistakes.
“You haven’t failed,” a dear girl-friend of mine said. “It may feel like you did but you honestly didn’t. You’re taking the approach that many others don’t. You’re doing everything you can for yourself and that’s what counts. Some people will use a toxic form of radical acceptance to stay stagnant in a life they feel miserable in. You’re doing everything in your power to not stay stuck and I’m proud of you for it.”
So, where am I right now? How do I ultimately feel about all of this?
For starters, I am angry with myself, but also understanding. Angry because I was stupid; understanding because I feel like I was doing what I wanted to do that felt right at the time. But ultimately, I think taking lessons away from this (mis)adventure is better than crawling up in a ball and screaming profanities and other unkind things to myself for hours on end.
The thing is, I am scared. Scared of adulthood. Scared of not knowing when I will be able to return to community college and earn a degree in order to get one step closer to a well-paying dream job. Scared that I won’t be able to find the proper mental healthcare I need in order to thrive, nevermind dealing with my physical maladies. Scared that I am not doing what I should be doing to be a proper adult. Scared of being left out of all the fun activities and other milestones that others are achieving and doing in their lives.
And as I type this, I have to realize that I cannot be alone in this feeling of terrified-ness. Cliche as it is to say, what I see on social media is the glossy, sugar-coated lives that people live when I see posts of drag shows and other events, or announcements of pregnancies, engagements, and college graduations. I try to remind myself that social media is a demon I will always have to battle with, but it is so damn easy to get lost in the likes, the praise, the bullshit. In fact, a recent 30-day ban on my Facebook account has me thinking that it’ll be a good thing to be forced to step away from “doom scrolling” my way down my Facebook newsfeed.
My friend has a point: I am trying to not feel stuck. I am trying to find my place in the world. Did I need to find my divine realization via a seven-week-long failed relationship? Probably not. But the reality is, I made that choice. And it’s teaching me so much.
I am facing the music right now. The song that comes to mind: Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.” Its lyrics perfectly encapsulate how I felt throughout this entire post-journey recap.
I can just hear them now
“How could you let us down?”
But they don’t know what I found
Or see it from this way around
Feeling it overtake
All that I used to hate
Wonder what if we trade
I tried but it’s way too late
All the signs I don’t read
Two sides of me can’t agree
When I breathe in too deep
Going with what I always longed for
There will constantly be a struggle within myself to do what I feel is right. And another struggle within that struggle to try and define, on my terms, what it means to “do the right thing.” But for right now, I am trying to be gentle with myself. Take some time for self-care, visit family and friends, and really make sure I am healing from this huge trauma I am going through.
I mean, if I am being realistic, I’m not dead. Yet. (This is just a morbid joke and I do not intend to die until I feel 100% accomplished with my life.)
I have the opportunity to find a new job and work at some place that I feel will at least appreciate my hard work.
I get to be back in my apartment, where I feel I am finally at home.
It is the end of a really miserable chapter of my life, but not the end of the book. I have the opportunity to start over and reinvent myself into a stronger human.
For now, I am just treasuring my time back at home and thinking about doing the next right thing over and over again until I get to my end goal of being employed and getting back to business as usual.