To steal a line from my own show, I’m about to get “philosophical up in here” (my muse is the sassy drag queen. so sue me).
Since my return from urbanly idyllic Manhattan, life has felt restless in a “something needs to change and it needs to change now” kind of way.
So, logically, in true Lesley fashion, I began scouring Craigslist for apartments in phases, obsessing about different locations in Massachusetts for weeks. One day I’d be looking in Cambridge. Another in Salem. Another in the South End of Boston until I realized I’d have to like, sign away my first newborn to afford 400 square feet of pre-war no-parking-included living space. ::cough::
I’ve waffled about what I think I want in a place to live. I’ve sunken into feelings if despair and climbed up into feelings of hope and back again. I’ve gotten very frustrated with myself, and I’ve gotten frustrated with numerous other things it feels good to blame things on. Rarrg if only I could have artists near me! Boo no ocean! Oh woe and despair everything closes at 9, shoot me! I thought surely if we could just find a “better” place than here, even if it wasn’t yet NYC or Portland, Maine (both places which feel super yummy for different reasons), that that would be a big step in the right direction and we could at least enjoy some of our youth while we still had it in the interim.
So we went to look at a few apartments in Salem over the past couple of weeks.
I didn’t like any of them even though they were awesome.
And while Salem checks the box of nearly everything that should make me happy on paper for a place to live in the interim, I realized yesterday that I’m not into it.
I tried for what had to be at least 15 minutes of the car ride home to articulate why it was that I didn’t want to live there and had a really hard time finding words to explain it, because it made no sense and I couldn’t even figure it out. It’s on the ocean, packed with delightful restaurants and small independent businesses, tons of gift shops, walkable, lots of stuff to do, live music and nightlife, bustling artist community I could establish myself in, a gorgeous museum residents get admission to for free, parks, affordable rent, the whole shebang.
And yet there was just something way in the back of my gut that was like “nope. Don’t do it, Les.”
If there’s anything I’m learning over time it’s to trust that feeling, even when it doesn’t make sense and is inconvenient. I think perhaps I felt I could like it just enough to let it convince me I didn’t need to push any further and end up staying there instead of going after the big dreams, that it could be ‘good enough’ quicksand, the stuff that gives people permission to cave on their big goals and convince themselves they’re happy, only to let those little dreams slowly suffocate but never quite go away and eat away at them forever. ::shudder::
I came home and looked around my apartment, and the town we live in, and thought of all of the things I complain about, then also thought of all of the things that I take for granted and that I’m comforted by, and thought to myself, “No. Unless something feels really right, I don’t want to uproot my life for a temporary move with the outlook of ‘at least it’s better than where we are now. We’ll just stay here until we’re ready to go somewhere even better’.” That wouldn’t be good because a) it still puts the focus on ‘what’s next’ after that, setting up the ‘interim’ place to be less than ideal and to become a place I find fault with because I’m still focusing on what I actually want and using that place as a substitute, and b) we’d be going through the stress and expenditure involved in moving with goal of moving again not too long afterward, otherwise facing potential complacency in the new place if we let ‘too much’ time go by being ‘stuck’ there.
It’s not good to do things for those reasons. It’s good to do things because they feel right to you and you can get excited about them. Not because they’re okay you guess, and you shrug your shoulders and say “meh, may as well”.
A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook today that said “The space for what you really want is filled with what you settle for instead”.
My brain kind of melted upon reading that, and it made so much sense.
Unless you keep what you truly want at the forefront and push for it, the space you allow yourself to have for it in your life is filled with the things that fall short that you settle for. Right now, the space for NYC is filled with our current home. But that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. It could be ‘upgraded’ with Salem, but right now that jump doesn’t feel worth it to me. And until it’s filled with NYC, it’ll just keep being filled with other things I’m settling for. That doesn’t necessarily mean those things are terrible, but it does require that I remember the space is there and it needs to be honored with its designated dream unless that dream truly changes. Perpetually swapping out other things to be settling for instead of facing the difficult and scary prospect of actually pushing for the dream isn’t going to be helpful.
So I took a deep breath of the beautiful flowery air blowing in my window, and laughed instead of getting angry when the huge-ass truck came as it does every other day at an ungodly hour of the morning to empty the dumpster and slam it down so loudly that my half-awake brain always thinks we’re being bombed and Clover bolts off the bed. I looked at my messy home office/art studio and envisioned ways I could tidy it, and watched TV late at night grateful that I don’t have upstairs or downstairs neighbors that complain or get mad if they hear it. And I realized the road to being content truly does start with me.
Do I want to stay here forever? Hell no. But do I NEED to get out right now or else? ….no. It felt like that, but it’s not true. It’s my issue within me, not the fault of my place of residence. I think the sooner I can be more at peace with this and myself, the better my chances will be of feeling the most relaxed, fulfilled, and successful regardless of where I live, and especially NYC if life takes me there. I don’t want to carry this baggage of perfectionism with me to a place like that and let it eat me alive. I want to go when I feel ready to take it on from all angles and enjoy it for what it is, no expectations, just aspirations and open-mindedness and the enjoyment of all that it has to offer. That will make me feel free and allow me to peacefully live anywhere.
I talked this out a bit with Todd as we sat eating Snickers ice cream bars in the park after dinner (best frozen treat ever omg). Attitude is so much of everything that happens to us in life. It is the difference between misery and joy, between contentment and frustration. I know it’s a little out there to follow the manifestation mindset but there really is some weight to that. All the times that I roll my eyes at the isolation here I could be savoring how safe I feel taking a walk at 11pm and that I don’t have to fight to find a parking space where I live. If I am forever focused on what I don’t have and what I wish I had, I will never be content because wishing and regretting are living in the future and the past, but life only exists in the present. I want to exist and I want to live, and whether I’m in the Upper East Side or right here where I’m sitting, finding a feeling of contentment and enough-ness can only come from inside of me.
But! This is not a permission slip to just abandon dreams altogether, of course. Tomorrow I’m meeting with my agent to talk about my goals and ask about NYC and if there might be potential for me to balance some time there with modeling. It can’t hurt to ask, and in the meantime, I’m going to go sleep in my cozy bed and attempt to count my blessings instead of my frustrations. Wherever I end up, I need to build my true home in my center of my being, my higher Self. Then, as my wonderful therapist says, I will always have a place to return to where I can feel grounded and at peace, no matter what’s happening around me. Kind of gives new meaning to “there’s no place like home”.