As I write this post from my desk, it’s the first day of summer. Spring left out the back door, and running through the front door, comes watermelon, ferris wheel rides, and the bright blooms of peonies. Vacationers pack themselves into beachside bars sipping margaritas. The air in my neighborhood smells like barbecue coals and salt from the sea.
Summer has come to San Diego, and the city is a flurry of change. The skies look bluer. The ocean water is warmer. And as I go to nurseries to buy flower bulbs, as I visit a local field where I can pick strawberries, I find that my life is changing as much as summer. Everything is changing. From my living situation, to my love life, to work. Changes, changes, changes.
I’ve had seasons that were overwhelmed by change. Like at the end of college, when tulips burst through the ground, snow melted away, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.
The fun thing about the non-seasonal changes wracking my life right now, is that I am making them. I am the agent of change. Like picking out new drapes or selecting a new go-to lipstick color. These changes are curated changes. Upgrades.
Change can be scary. Laborious. Tortuous, even. I think of sitting at your kitchen table and revamping your resume for hours after work. I think of the guts it takes to break up with someone whom you enjoy spending time with, but whom is reckless with your heart.
Change – whether you’re the agent of change or at the mercy of the Fates – is challenging, which is why we often avoid it. We don’t want to initiate the break up, quit the job, move out of the state, because we are afraid of what we will find when we do. But while things staying the same can feel comfortable – safe – after awhile it can get kind’ve deadly.
As I get older, I notice myself asking for what I want from my friends, my partners, my social life, my work. I’ve come to value stepping outside my comfort zone – what I’m used to – and embracing the discomfort of change. In fact, stepping outside my comfort zone is quickly becoming my new favorite thing. “Oh you guys are signing up for a hip hop dance class? Dancing in public gives me crippling anxiety, but yes I am in.”
Last night, I was walking through my neighborhood after a long run, and I noticed a house with the baby blue shutters and tall, looming sunflower. I watched a red light glow from within a modern chandelier in a beautiful house siding up to the bay that I wondered if I could ever afford on my own. I felt myself wondering about all these people that lived in these houses and seventies-era apartment buildings – now and in the past.
Their favorite books were probably ones I’d never read. Maybe they were fishermen. Maybe they were Italian. Maybe they were Catholic with icons and paintings of Jesus on their walls. Maybe they made coffee on Saturday mornings and read as they watched the sun come up over the bay. Maybe right then, they were fighting. Brushing their kids’ teeth. Wrapping shower caps around their heads. Maybe they were old now, but their lives had been a thing of beauty. I found myself in that space – that childhood-like space – when you forget about the limits and think only of possibilities. The world felt as it is: big.
If we can see the unknown for what I think it really is, a place pregnant with possibilities, I think our attitudes change. Smiles spread across our faces. The little things seem like they really are: little.
I am going into July with a fresh(er) slate. There are a lot of open-ended questions that I need to have answered. But I gotta tell ya: I kind of like the open-endedness. Change can be scary, but routine, I think…it’s even scarier.