On January 4th of this year, I found myself in an airplane wondering what on earth possessed me to think that moving from Pennsylvania to California with $12.00 in my bank account was a good idea. In 2103 I found myself going back to school full time and working on a farm to support myself through quite an interesting life transition – from being a full time Program Coordinator at one of the Church of the Brethren’s largest and well known camps and retreat centers to… Nothing. 2012 was the year I decided to stand up for myself and what I believed in and, having reaped the consequences of carrying this out, 2013 was the year of getting myself back on my feet. I could not have done this without those who reached out to me – by whom I mean Dan and Fred. Thanks to them, I had a roof over my head, food in my stomach, an income, and I was even able to go back to school full time.
Time was running out, though. On New Year’s Eve of 2012, I told myself that in 366 days I would be independent again. That by January 2014 I would have my own place and be supporting myself 100% with my own income. I thought that the waiting job I took in Lancaster in October 2013 was my ticket out of Bethel, but boy, was I ever wrong. I worked for three weeks before I got canned for having an “off day” (the day after I found out a friend and former colleague had taken her life). I spent the rest of October and November looking for jobs.
That’s how I ended up on a plane. There was a tipping point in my mind that triggered a very dark view of my disdain for everything in PA. After much soul-searching, I concluded that getting back on my feet after 2012 was important to me, yes, but 2013 taught me that doing it on my own was what I needed most, and in order to do that I needed to start over again. Tabula rasa. I needed to be emotionally, physically, and geographically far, far away from anything that I associated with how I ended up in my situation in the first place. PA was dead to me. I detested it, and there was nothing anybody could do to paint a silver lining around its borders. It was a state of mind that I allowed to fester, if only to add motivation to get the hell out.
I had an emotional breakdown during my layover in Phoenix. I cried unabashedly on my way to gate B12, the connecting flight that would take me to LAX, where I was to be picked up by some guy named Noel. I sat and stared out the window through my tears, looking at the tiny plane that would be hopping me over Arizona and Nevada to be an official left-coaster in SoCal. “This is me picking myself up? On my own? Is this what it looks like? Running away? Am I running away? Why did I leave? I had stability and support. Now I have $12.00 and I’m heading to a job I hardly know much about. Why am I doing this?”
I almost immediately found family in my colleagues and quickly learned that the staff at High Trails is a highly intelligent and wildly adventurous bunch. I spent the first half of 2014 working and playing harder than I ever have in my life alongside the most beautifully captivating people I’ve ever met. It was therapeutic.
In March, I decided that I would like to get back into Program Directing, and I ended up landing a position at a place called Oakland Feather River Camp, a family camp located in Northern California. It was a seasonal position, which is wonderful because it allowed me to work year round, but still kept a management position on my résumé without any large time gaps.
My first season at OFRC was extremely successful. I was told good things. Wonderful things. I was told that I brought life back into the program. I was told that I was a key player in saving a struggling camp. I was told that my staff was the best that the families, some of which had been attending for decades, have ever seen. I had a magnificent working relationship with my boss, who referred to me as a “gem of a man.” There is now even a push to get my job to be a full-time, year round position.
Professionally and socially speaking, 2014 was amazing. I wish I could say the same when it comes to family. I am not going to get into much detail, but during a short month that I went back to PA (between OFRC and Returning to High Trails), I yet again saw some pretty ugly colors come out of my father. He is a manipulative person, who will assume others’ ignorance lie at the drop of a hat to keep his ego and pride in tact. Over a family dinner, one at which my then boyfriend Colton and long-time friend Patrick were present, my father claimed that the reason that all of my stuff that was in my car is gone forever is because the conversation I was referencing that we had (where he agreed to get my stuff out of my car) was completely made up on my part. Minutes later, he referenced the conversation he denied ever having in an attempt to prove me wrong. How one references, verbatim, a conversation he claims was completely fabricated is beyond me.
That about did it between me and my father. It may seem small, but I am exhausted of his mental games. Twenty-seven years of psychological boot camp is enough. My parents both have this thing where they do not treat or talk to their kids (well, I guess I can’t speak for my sister anymore) as the adults that they are. They team up and belittle and seem to have this fixation to remind us/me that “I am the parent, you are the child,” and “I spawned you.” – believe it or not, both of these are direct quotes I have heard from them well into adulthood. Yes, “I spawned you.” You can laugh.
My mother and I also don’t talk, but it is truly for something I have nothing to do with and know nothing about. My mother put up a very accusatory status update about me in response to something my cousin said that I told him to take down. My mother either doesn’t believe me that I have nothing to do with the actions of my cousin, or she doesn’t want to believe me. After my friends started sending me messages wondering what was going on and why my mother would post something like that on her page, I angrily called home. My mother refused to pick up, but she sure did text me some awful things. Name calling and everything. She said she refused to pick up the phone to protect me because she didn’t want to “unleash.” My family – and all of its members – sucks at communicating. They are passive. I am direct. Like everyone else, my communication style can also be to a fault. It is the mixing of how I communicate with how my family communicates that fuels a seemingly never ending nuclear reaction. I therefore constantly look like I’m instigating and confrontational. I get called “mean.” Im not mean. I’m just not passive in confrontations. At all. I hate confrontations and I want them to be over as soon as they begin rearing their ugly, largely unnecessary heads. In my world, in order to diffuse a bomb, you have to open it, figure it out, and decide which wires need to be cut. Denying the bomb’s existence or dancing around how to diffuse it is a waste of precious time you could be using some other way. Like enjoying life without bombs. Mom, if you are reading this, trust me – I have better things to do than spread “vicious lies” about you to my family members, whom I don’t talk to in the first place. The world is heating up, and I gotta, you know, tell kids about that. And also live life. You know, things that don’t have anything to do with you.
When it comes to my sister in 2014, who knows. I wonder what my nephews look like. Hm. Maybe she’s pregnant again. Whatever. It is that my expressing annoyance to her that I found out about the birth of one of my nephews via FACEBOOK PICTURES caused her to lock me out of her life. I guess I should have been more understanding that this is how the world communicates. If ever I get married, I’ll be sure to send a tweet letting everyone know. “@everyone Btw totes marryd now. Lolz! #love #sendgiftsplz”
2014 also sadly ended my longest running relationship. I realized I could not be who I wanted to be in the relationship given the direction my life has gone. I still care for Colton. I do. I’m just not happy with not being able to be who I need to be in a relationship.
2014 also housed my shortest running relationship. While frustrated at his work and life situation, my friend Zack decided to apply to High Trails after the season had started and somehow he wound up on staff. Zack is a guy I met on grindr a while back and we’ve remained friends since. We have a rather dynamic friendship, and while we tried for something when he moved out here, it was very obvious that we do better as friends. Honestly, I need to stop thinking that being in a relationship is something that is necessary for my happiness. I’ve learned a lot with regard to that this past year. Relationships are just a thing I do. I need not to feel like that’s a normal gear to be in. On at note, it is very nice having a friend from PA working here.
So there’s a recap. In a little over a week, I will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of my Phoenix meltdown. I will also be celebrating the progress I have made – the friends I have made – the job(s) that I have – the difference I have made in the lives with which I’ve intersected. I will celebrate the new path I have set myself on my way out of the fun little wilderness of life. I will return to school out here. I’ll find my way to stability and success out here. I’ll travel and meet people and learn about the world around me. Maybe I will leave the country again. Nothing is holding me back or down anymore; I can breathe deeply.
Here is to 2015 and the changes and progress I plan to make, within and without. This coming year’s resolutions are turning out to be more people oriented, so watch out close friends, and also people whom I have yet to meet! Dun dun dunnn!
Ancora imparo – and still, I am learning.