I was standing in the warm garage, talking to the mechanic.
“We know where to find you,” she said, smiling. I can’t remember what we’d said before that, but I know that I replied, “Always in the same place.”
I’d meant the mountain, but it occurred to me how odd it was for that to be true.
Five-year plans. I’ve never, in my life, had a five-year plan. Even when I was a junior in high school, when everyone who wants to go to college has a five-year plan, I didn’t. For me, it was more like, I’m going to design school. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll become a doctor. Eh. We’ll see…
Do people actually make those things—five-year plans? I suppose they do. I went to J-School with a really ambitious guy who wasn’t content with a five-year plan. He had a “15-year plan.” It may or may not be worth noting that it began to disintegrate even before we’d graduated. I can say that without feeling bad because he’s doing really well now.
But yeah, I thought he was mad, and for exactly that reason: Plans are arbitrary. I believe that there are reasons why things happen, but I do not believe that the plans we lay, should we choose to do so, have much, if anything, to do with it. “The best-laid plans…”
I prefer a vague plan full of qualifications and the freedom of ambiguity:
- I’d like to do that. Some time.
- I’ll probably be [insert whatever here] six months from now/two weeks from now/Saturday…
A year ago, I was heartbroken, not by a person, but by a country. I was about to leave a place that I loved. Love. Will always love. People who I love. My “plan,” if you will, included two months of intense, intercontinental travel, a couple of surf comps, and many, many youth hostels. And then, big, glaring—if kind of glamorous—blank space.
What would I do between France in October and Sydney in December? Well, I’d figure it out, I reasoned. But last July, it was a mystery, and one that became less and less sexy with time.
A few weeks in Bali put me off living there for any real length of time. Vietnam was still a quasi option. A girl who I met in Malaysia invited me to Nepal. I could do Nepal. This is how these things happen, you know. You meet a girl in Malaysia who invites you to Nepal. But I couldn’t afford the flight. Truthfully, I couldn’t afford anything. Change of plans.
I returned to the States disheartened, with designs of getting my proverbial shit together. (I’m still working on it.)
I only intended to stay here through a single ski season, but I sensed pretty quickly that Maine numbed my nomad tendencies. Eight months in, I’m surprised to find myself calling this place home. More than that, I’m surprised that it feels like home. I am surprised every day when I don’t want to leave. Then again, I’m astonished every day by the beauty of this place. And that of its people. I feel the occasional searing pang for the inconstant, but it only takes a minute of clarity to see that it’s all around, regardless of venue.
So, I think I’ll use that airline credit for an actual vacation—or two—instead of a one-way ticket. And then come home.