Six weeks ago, I left my job in marketing to follow my dreams of being something entirely different. I flew out from San Francisco three days later to Chicago and then passed through the cities of Nashville, Atlanta, Asheville, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Boston, New York, and now Edmond, OK.
I’ve walked what feels like hundreds of miles, consumed at least thirty protein bars and twelve hundred almonds, ridden the public transit system in four cities and gotten lost in all of them, and spent a cumulative thirty hours on buses. My feet are tired. One of my two shirts is pit-stained beyond repair, and my backpack has a thin layer of peanut butter in the front pocket where some single serving peanut butter packages burst open and I failed to remove them until many days later. That’s also the pocket where I keep my electronic cords.
I left SF because I am a coward and knew I would need physical distance to keep me from reverting to the familiar and pleading to have my paid shackles back. The trip has been challenging and I’ve learned much, perhaps too much. I’ve questioned everything I want and believe in, then reaccepted it, and then questioned it again. I almost moved to Asheville.
But here I am in Edmond, OK, the place of my middle and high school education, first crushes, and AP classes, and I’m proud to say this: that despite everything, the uncertainty of the future, the haziness of the past, and my tendency to make decisions based on how hungry I am, in spite of future failure or success, I am proud to say this, that I have a tiny tan line on my wrist. It might seem unimportant or nonexistent to you, but I know my wrist, and that is a tan line and it is most important.
It comes from being outside in full view of the sun, away from any corporate overlord or indentured servitude. It comes from singing in the open air while walking through public gardens, from waiting for the bus during the middle of the day like a free woman, from sitting and doing nothing at all in the park with my face in the shade under an elm tree in Washington D.C., doing nothing though I have believed that more work will make me happy, doing nothing though I have measured my entire life in terms of productive output, doing nothing though I had swallowed the falsehood that doing something is better than doing nothing. Why should it be like that? Why indeed?
I’ve learned to question everything, to know that nothing exists “as it is supposed to be,” that everything is created, constructed and interpreted according to something that humans made up. We just made it up.
I don’t know what the next step is, and in a few months or less I may be dreaming of a return to the office and eating all of these words, but until then I will nourish this tiny tan line with pride. In a society where one is judged by the threadcount of one’s sheets and the size of one’s paycheck, I will brandish my tiny tan line as a symbol of my search for real freedom.
Also, because you asked, I’d have to say my second biggest accomplishment is learning to love the selfie.