I’ve had the same passcode, or some variation of it, since high school. It was my locker combination. And it has taken on so many different forms to unlock everything from phones to bank accounts, to garage doors, to hotel room safe deposit boxes.
It’s not that it’s easy to remember. It’s more so that I grew attached to those numbers. To that routine. To something so assigned and definite. Why change it?
I hate change.
Even if it’s good change, my eyes cry oceans until they are so dry it hurts. Only then, when it’s all gone, when the well is barren, that I can begin to settle down, settle into whatever it is that’s different.
Freud could say this repulsion to change stems from some deep rooted psychological scar from my parents’ divorce. And he may be right. All I know is, for as long as I can remember, change is the one constant in my life, and the one thing I constantly can’t handle.
One that tops them all: leaving. People walk into and our of lives all the time. This is normal. People move. We are a transient generation. Change has been good in the respect that women can follow their dreams, not their spouses. And planes can transport us anywhere in the world in just hours. Both men and women can follow their whims, not their parents’, they can wander about the country, or the world. There are no rules to this thing called life anymore. This also means throwing off the sails and cutting the anchors that tie you to a place and time. This means ending relationships, giving up a career, severing a lifestyle, to follow the unknown, to follow your dreams. It’s both wonderful, and sad…all in one.
I left New Jersey for DC, for college. I had no rear view mirror nor did I want one when I packed up and left. I hated high school. I hated middle school. I hated the constant push and pull from the parentals. I hated the revolving door of women my dad dated, and the backlash after they broke up, as it appeared, the entire town of 7,000 people knew and judged me for it. And when he finally remarried, I hated how she changed our house, that they had two children. It was so much change, all the time. And I couldn’t control any of it.
I was angry at the world. So I turned to the only thing I could control, the only thing that was constant: school, studying, learning how the hell I could get out of this merry-go-round of change.
You could say I was a loner and that would be accurate. I was sick of running through friends, so to speak, with mostly every clique casting me off because of my father’s actions. I was just biding my time until I could leave. And when I did, it was a most liberating, free-falling, high-fiving amazement. I made new friends, I drank this magical juice called alcohol, I danced in sketchy frat houses, I ate ice cream at 3am, I tangoed with diplomats and had drinks with ex-pats. I traveled the world and volunteered. I did all of these great things with great people, until the novelty wore off and I remembered what I had left behind: my family, my dog, the 15 minute drive to the beach, the few loyal, nonjudgemental friends I had, and that feeling of being “home.”
I never moved back. But I often looked back, and went back over breaks and a few weeks each summer. My family did drive me crazy, so I never stayed long, but I grew to miss and love that craziness and yearn for it like a calf needs her mother. As I grew into my second decade of life, I found myself coming back more and more. Any chance I could get to see those crazy hooligans. I loved them and they loved me, no conditionality. It was home.
As my DC days grew to a close, and so too did my first real relationship, those saline droplets I knew so well came back as if I’d been holding the Indian sea back for years. College was over. My exciting CNN internship, over. The first guy I ever loved was leaving for Bulgaria. My friends were scattering round the country, if not the world. I didn’t have a job yet. I was alone, bare, open to the world. Change was inevitable, it was all around, it was happening to everyone around me, it was happening in me. And then it really happened:
CNN came knocking. This time, for a job in Atlanta. I had ten days to move. And I did it in 9. I embraced this change. I needed it. I wanted it. Craved it. After a summer back in NJ tending to my family, I was so ready to leave, again.
It was a weird transition to the South. Everything is a lot slower, crispier, hotter. There was no orientation to the real world. Just: here’s life, and good luck. After my first day on the job, I came back to my room, stood against the wall, and slouched down like they do in the movies, not knowing if I could do this. It was the most terrifying change I’d been through. Alone. Not knowing a soul. Not knowing anything about broadcast production. I was like a baby born all over again, coming into this world alone, cold, naked and scared.
I made it through. Very well, I may add. And I’m coming up on 5 years at the company. There have been so many changes over that time – two role/title changes (both times for the best, although of course it came with tears, fears…the usual anxiety to change), four housing changes, each one for the best, again, but the tears were always present when the moving truck arrived; friends coming and going; boyfriends coming and going and coming back again.
There’s no definite or static or forever. We enter this world and we leave it. What we do in between those undetermined times is not always up to us, but how we react — that’s entirely in our hands. I’m 26 and I still cannot figure out how best to handle change. It’s a struggle, always. Maybe I’ll never learn how to cope with it. Maybe I am coping with it the best way I know. There’s no right or wrong way to deal, there may be a “better” way to deal, but we all just muddle through, some silently more than others, some using words, some using their voice, some, like me, use water until the water is all gone.
I am admittedly an emotional human, and I feel so much that my heart physically hurts every time any ill will is thrown at me, or near me. But it recovers, with tim…the blood still flows in me, around me, and when it’s healed it is back to square one. Comfort, change, pain, anger, acceptance, repeat. At least I know the process, and I know I’ll regain some semblance of OK-ness again. It’s all temporary, fleeting. Every breath is a chance to look at change and tell it, OK, I see you, how am I going to get through you? And then you just do it.