I’m a South Bronx girl born in the 70’s, running around the projects in the 80’s and spending the 90’s cutting class, hanging with the strange and unusual people in The Village.
As a child born to West Indian parents who immigrated to the US in the 70’s, I think I was born with the wanderlust gene in my DNA because I have never been still. Maybe it was because I traveled a lot when I was young, plus my head stayed in a book and like the Reading Rainbow said,
“You can go anywhere.
Just take a look,
it’s a book…”
And anywhere I went.
From Regency England to Derry, Maine, to new galaxies and new civilizations. This feeling that there was somewhere else I needed to be, different people I needed to talk to, different food I needed to eat has always been there. It was the reason I joined the Navy, I wanted to see the world. I actually tried to join the Peace Corps at first but I was only 17 when I graduated high school and they said no.
But I just couldn’t wait, I left for the Navy and I turned 18 during my first week of boot camp. Hindsight, I could have waited, it was only 6 months after graduation, but I needed to know that I was going somewhere. It didn’t matter where. To be honest, I never actually know where I’m going but I always have a general direction and that time it lead me to Navy. I have never regretted my decision.
So fast forward 18 lighting fast years, my 6 years in the Navy went by quickly, 3 kids are born and suddenly are teenagers, 8 years of marriage have come and gone, as did multiple relationships during the 17 years spent in Midcoast Maine. And now I am 42¾, and the wanderlust is still there.
But it’s tucked away, hidden, buried deep beneath the responsibilities and the sacrifices one has to make as a parent. I actually almost had a panic attack when my three kids and I got our passports. I felt like a free-range chicken that had all this range to pick at, but like the chickens who were already conditioned to stay inside, I was also too afraid to step outside my door. If anyone has seen Chicken Run, all of those chickens to scared to run in the beginning were basically me. The worrying and clucking included.
My worrying and clucking included a myriad of thing extremely stressful things. I was trying to get my oldest son’s mental health balanced. That part of parenting was not in the manual and all the training that I received flew straight out the window. When it all started a year ago, I couldn’t even remember how to fill out the authorizations forms that I used to fill out on the regular for my clients.
My sister was getting married and I was trying to figure out a way to get all of us to my sister’s wedding in the Dominican Republic, the main reason we got our passports in the first place and waiting for my tax returns so I could pay for said trip to the D.R. (45 held them up, I guess will looking into if my three kids that I have been filling for since 2001 were actually mine) and working way too much.
Now I can handle stress. I thrive on it. Since I am a wicked procrastinator, I don’t get shit done until it’s on fire. (I am learning how to keep things at the crock pot warm level.) But this stress was like none other. I think the final straw was when I pulled my son out high school and enrolled him into adult education. It was the absolute right thing do. I only wish I had done it sooner. The sky immediately cleared up and the sun started shining again. But I had to let go of the way I thought life would be him and begin to imagine a new story with him co-writing it as it should be.
But even knowing this, I still lost my shit, and it wasn’t pretty. I announced that I wasn’t going to my sister’s wedding because we all couldn’t go since I hadn’t gotten my taxes and if I wasn’t working, I was in my bed sleeping and crying. I didn’t take anyone’s phone calls for a few days while I downward spiraled.
But when I couldn’t cry anymore and laid in my bed, feeling just fucking sad and small because my sister confirmed that my custom ordered sari for her wedding was canceled since I told her I wasn’t going, I realized that I had to make a decision to get out of the bed and call my mom. I am even tearing up as I write this. My mommy had to come to see about me.
It was hard for me to admit that I was emotional, mentally, physically and even spiritually tired. People would always ask me how do I manage and I would say I’m fine. And for the most part, I was staying afloat. I do a lot of self-care, in my line of work you have to. But seeing your child suffer and not being able to do anything about it, is one of the worst things imaginable.
I was also working on my TEFL/ TESOL certification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Teaching English as a Second Language). Which was surprisingly hella hard! I have since learned that I speak English, but I don’t know English. I have never liked grammar. The thing that saves me is that it’s intuitive. I have only a vague recollection of phonetics in the grade school but that’s it. I draw a complete blank at grammar. I never did the Mad Libs grammar activity books that kids did in elementary school because nouns, verb, adjectives like math were my enemies, not my friends. And we’re grammar and I am like frienemies now. I’m waiting for G to turn on me.
Oh and I mention that I had vitamin D deficiency? It was more like I had no vitamin D, my levels were so low. Who knew that vitamin D was so important to everything from your bones to your mental health? I certainly did not. Now I am like the town crier. I tell everyone I know they need to get their levels checked. Your muscles are cramping? You might have vitamin D deficiency. You can’t sleep? Yup, vitamin D deficiency friend. You have a vitamin deficiency! You have a vitamin deficiency! Everyone has a vitamin D deficiency!
So the all that combined, Wandelust in me was like maybe you should just burn it all down and start over somewhere else. Because Maine might not be the place for you anymore. But I actually do love Maine and my life here. I’d been here most of my adult life, one of my cornerstones lives here, and I have some my tribe here as do my kids. But-but I have been so goddamned restless. That feeling that I have somewhere else I needed to be was bubbling to the surface. What I needed was a controlled burn to clear the path so nothing got destroyed.
Apparently, the new path that was being blazed sorta responsively lead straight to The Middle East. Cuz why wouldn’t it? I am drawn crazy and complicated like a moth to a flame honey. It’s the sweetest ambrosia. Nectar of the Gods! I say I don’t want it like a normal person should do but I am ready to choke a mofo out for My Precious. I have been through enough counseling sessions to know that this is who I am and I just need to roll with this shit.
And that being said, I did what anyone else having a mid-life existential crisis would do–providing they are hopped on hope (shout out to Kawana for that expression), extremely restless and in need of a full transfusion of something new and most importantly also hit the fuck it stage that comes after a meltdown: I started an online ESL school and brought around a round trip to The Middle East.
Yes, I need brakes, the kids need school supplies and electricity, my child support is acting wonky this month because of something my ex did and didn’t bother to tell me about and I’m pretty sure since my mattress is the worst and my daughter sleeps in a dip on her side of the bed, it’s gonna swallow her up like it did to that teenager in the Nightmare On Elm ST movie and I’ll be a cripple because that bed kills my back, my hips-just everything. But sitting on this balcony in Jerusalem, people watching as I finish up this maiden post is so frackin’ worth it!
Oh, and lest I forget, I’ll also be brokitty ass broke. But I’ve broke before and my boys can live off of mac and cheese and my fancy cream of wheat-I make it with orange zest, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and milk. My daughter will have pasta and cheese quesadillas. I will splurge on vitamins so they don’t get rickets because fruits and veggies are expensive.
And yes, in case you were wondering, I did go to my sister’s wedding. I would have been shattered had I not gone. My mother brought my ticket and I left the kids home and got my first sunburn in 7 years. I also sat on the balcony with one of my best friends Lisa and said I need this balcony life. I need to go to places where I can sit on the balcony and chill and also look down on people like Blue Ivy. Although my hotel will probably be a 1-star hostel like the adorable one I’m staying at in Amman. But I’ll have a private room with a balcony and that’s all that matters.
So I invite you all to ride shotgun with me on my all escapades. Some will be to new countries, maybe a new restaurant, a new fitness class (hint: it involves a pole!) an eavesdrop in on a weird conversation that I thought was interesting enough to share and some trips might be simply in my own ADHD head. Man, it’s crazy up in there sometimes. But I absolutely, positively guarantee that I’ll be your new online BFF! We’ll be like Oprah and Gayle or Joe and Barack, Sunbutter and Non-GMO Jelly, Codfish and Green Banana, Lamb and all of the Middle East.
We’ll be living our best life y’all!