If you want to torture someone, forget everything you ever watched on Dexter, and simply put them in a concrete room with no windows. I don’t care how lovely the furnishings, how amazing the kitchen, or how big the bathtub is…after about 24 hours, none of that is going to matter anyway…because they will be INSANE! Or maybe that’s just me.
It was always part of my plan to spend the holidays with my family in TN, so I booked a beautiful Airbnb right in the heart of a thriving college town nearby. The apartment is a loft, complete with exposed brick, beams, and duct work, and concrete floors. The kitchen (the part that mattered most to me) is a dream. There’s even a big TV so I can spend my evenings with Mr. Reddington (aka The Blacklist, in case you were concerned) and a washer/dryer that has so many buttons, I need a manual to operate it. But…there’s not a single window in the whole place! Not even a peephole in the door! And I’m going nuts because it’s also 30 degrees outside, and well…most of my winter wardrobe went to the Goodwill when I was decluttering back in August. What can I say? I was thinking only of sand, sun, and beachwear.
I wasn’t planning on coming back this early, but my great aunt passed away, and Van Geaux needed a wiper relay, so I thought, just do it…you have no plans, no expectations, no cares in the world…rent an Airbnb, get some work done, and work out the next part of this adventure.
Little did I realize, it wasn’t going to be that simple.
Aside from the windowless apartment and the blasting of New Orleans jazz from the cafe across the street ALL. DAY. LONG., I woke up in the middle of my first night here to the most startling realization.
I have fallen in love.
Sure enough, when I went to Google to see what the symptoms of ‘being in love’ were, I came across this list:
- You feel a genuine rush or high when you think of them.
- You can’t get them out of your head.
- You are more open to new ideas and activities.
- You start planning for the future.
- You feel safe and warm around them.
- Even running errands together is fun.
- You start singing sappy songs.
Speaking of which, I had thoroughly convinced myself that I did not even like music anymore after the tragic karaoke incident of 2009 (which is a story for another day) but I’ve been singing like I was in a choir here lately. And if you’ve never sang in a concrete room, try it. That’s one good thing going for this little Airbnb. But I digress…
When I woke up that first night, all tangled in the sheet, and feeling like I’d eaten a cotton ball, I couldn’t stop thinking about the last three weeks of my life, the places I’d seen, the people I’d met, the resilience, the resourcefulness, the joy of greeting each new day with no expectations, I knew I was in love. Not with a person, but with my life.
I missed being on the road. I missed singing with the window down. I missed stopping at rest areas. I missed the campgrounds. I missed the beach. I missed the wildlife. I missed walking in the woods, swimming in the springs, and riding my bicycle. I missed Ben and Suzanne and Chris and Michelle and Barb and JD and his wife and all the wonderful people I spent time with. I missed talking to my parents on the phone every night, and hearing the excitement in their voices as we shared the events of our day. I missed comparing travel notes with Angie, who was on her own adventure out west. I think I even missed going to Walmart in every city I stayed.
I’ve been in love before. That relationship started out bumpy and turned into a decade-long adventure, for which I have zero regrets. Being in love with life, now that’s a wholly different experience for me, though you can say that getting here was probably just as bumpy. I mean, I did try to sell the van and rent 2 different apartments before finally letting myself lean in to what was happening.
I’ve learned many things over the last few months. I learned that it makes no difference what you plan for your life, the Universe is going to take you where you need to be, often despite yourself and your efforts to do something different. I’ve seen so many examples of this, not just in my life, but in the lives of the people I’ve spent time with. I never thought about our paths being predetermined (that was way too spiritual for me way back in the day) but the more I listen to other people’s stories and see how happy they became when they just leaned in too, I can’t help but believe that what’s meant to be always is.
I also learned a little golden nugget about myself that has been a real game changer, but for that, you’ll have to wait until next week. It’s too long for just a paragraph and I have to get ready. My parents are coming up to see the concrete box I’m staying in and spring me for a little bit of thrift shopping (and hopefully tacos!).
Have an awesome week, my friends!