For years, I clung to the side of life’s pool. I swam only when it was absolutely necessary, knowing that swimming didn’t come naturally to me. I feared drowning almost as much as I came to loathe the feeling of holding onto the edge. I didn’t trust that there would be anyone who would jump in after me if I sunk. I didn’t trust myself, either. Each trip across the pool was fueled more by fear than by confidence.
It feels strange to consider those years now. I began to loosen my grip on the edge in 2009 and today even high-diving doesn’t scare me. I have found my element, my purpose, and I no longer doubt or dishonor my calling. I have exceptional friends who trust me and that I trust with everything I am. I’ve let go of old resentments and implausible hopes. I’ve forgiven myself not only for all the times I tried and failed, but more importantly for the times I was too afraid to try.
I found my life’s purpose and with it, a sense of calm.
What I haven’t found yet is a sense of place. Of “home”.
I’m living a good life in Tucson. My rent is cheap, I’ve got a decent car, there’s a Starbucks and a dog park right around the corner. I’ve even started dating again — casually, because I need that kind of lightness right now — and I’ve made many friends.
Outside of a harsh political climate, there’s nothing that Tucson lacks for someone like me. The sun shines warmly about nine months of the year. There’s an abundance of choice in restaurants, entertainment and recreational activities. Not once have I ever wanted something specific — like an Irish dinner or a particular black shirt — and not been able to find them. The people are friendly and the population is at least somewhat diverse.
I live one block away from a monastery, Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and none of the sisters seem to mind that on occasion my dog Annie and I go sit in their meditative garden, where Annie keeps a watch out for rabbits and I will myself into a feeling of balance.
Every day, sometimes twice a day, Annie and I go to Reid Park, where we cavort with other dogs and their owners or take solitary walks around the ponds, gardens and waterfall.
I live within walking distance of the Loft Cinema, where for $13 I can watch the kind of offbeat movies I like while enjoying a glass of wine.
And yet . . . Tucson doesn’t feel like home. It feels like an in-between place — a place I accidentally landed on the way to something/somewhere else.
I am not sure what home is supposed to feel like because I haven’t found it yet, but I’ve always been convinced that part of the package is a bright, shining sun and an ocean nearby. A dog-friendly, gay-welcoming, diverse neighborhood of individualists. Someplace where there’s room for seclusion as well as community.
After traveling across the country, I ruled out Florida (snakes, gators, politics) and California (traffic, attitude, smog) . Which, to my mind, leaves Hawaii the most logical choice.
It’s quite the swim from desert to island, I know, and it might take some time to get there, but I’m determined that I will. It might be three years from now or it may happen in a few months. I also might get there and find that island life isn’t what I’d hoped it would be, but the wonderful thing about being free is that I can always move forward — to any number of cities, to any new adventure that I can make possible.
There’s no edge that I feel compelled to cling to anymore and no possibility for happiness that I don’t want to explore.