I always seem to find myself reflecting on time during every holiday or major annual event. In this particular case, Labor Day weekend. Labor Day has no particularly special place in my life, other than that blessed Monday off work (while still being paid – hello salary, nice to meet you), but it never fails that I always do some sort of self-evaluation this weekend. Probably because it’s a weekend that, regardless of what’s going on around us, happens every year. Like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day.
I never thought I’d still be here a year later. Ok, well not quite an entire year, but close enough. I was supposed to move to Toledo, South Carolina, Marco Island, anywhere but here. I wasn’t supposed to keep working at my dad’s office – it was temporary, until I found a teaching job, or a proper substitute for my degree. I was getting out of Dayton. But, in the wise words of Dave Matthews, “funny the way it is,” isn’t it? Funny how nothing ever really works out according to how you planned it.
As much as I like to consider myself to be the spontaneous type, I’m really not. I’m a planner. I like schedules, routines, and my idea of living on the edge is not taking a shower before work in the morning. So not having a set plan after graduation last fall really threw me off course. And let’s face it, not having a plan right after graduation is pretty much the equivalent of an accidental pregnancy. Everyone is asking you, “So what are you going to do now? Are you going to stay here, work a part-time job, live at home, move out, job search outside of Ohio, save money, join the circus?” And all the while, you’re thinking “Well shit. If I would have known this would happen, I never would have graduated.” You can’t answer the questions being thrown at you, and the only thing worse than not being able to fulfill your relatives’ nagging questions with an appropriate response is realizing that you yourself never even considered what happens when the plan doesn’t work out and that ultimately, your plan has failed. It’s the worst feeling in the world, and no one prepares you for that.
So the planner in me, the scheduler who lived for itinerary handouts on band trips in high school, twitched and panicked for about 6 months. Then this summer, I unintentionally came to the understanding that life is pretty much what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I was constantly making plans to make a grand entrance out of my own life, and I forgot to live with what I had. For some reason, in some magical sort of “I never asked for this” kind of way, I have become content. I have become happy with my own life. I love the people I work with, I have enough money to pay my bills and I get to see my family on a regular basis. I can choose to go out, get rowdy and make an ass out of myself at the bar, and I can also be content with coming home after work, folding my laundry and going to bed by 9 p.m.
I have learned to let people go who I otherwise thought would be a permanent fixture in my life. I take time each day to thank God for the things I’ve been given – a loving and supportive family, a few good friends, and the ability to be content with my life. I go to my parents’ house to see my dog almost every day. I understand my own body and mind, and know when to call it quits on a long of drinking. I want to be good at my job, and I want to learn. I want to participate in a 5k race, so that I not only feel good about running for a cause, I also feel good about running for myself. I clean my house, color-code my closet, and keep a word document open on my computer so I can write my most random and deepest thoughts down. I text my parents on a regular basis. I have a bar I can go to where everyone knows my name, sort of like Cheers…but not as classy. I leave my windows open, turn the air off, and blast music when I clean, or just when I’m sitting around.
My life isn’t perfect, but for the first Labor Day ever, I’m happy to say that this IS my life.