Sentimentality and Insecurity
Since August of last year I've lived on a lake. It has been wonderful. I have a contract job with a company in northern Indiana, a region dotted with numerous natural lakes. The lake I live on is decent sized, about six hundred acres. While here, I've spent as much time as I could on the lake itself, at first tooling around in a borrowed kayak, and after it froze over, taking walks on the lake itself. I’m also a birdwatcher, and I've seen an impressive variety of wildlife here- ducks, geese, swans, gulls, sandpipers, and even ospreys and bald eagles.
Sadly, my time here is ending. This house is strictly a winter rental. Come late May, my landlord will be renting it out to weekly vacationers for many times what I’m paying. Soon I’ll have to be somewhere else. This has filled me with a combination of anxiety and preemptive nostalgia I think of as sentimentality. I’m attached to the place, and I don’t want to leave. Its obvious flaws (the iron-rich well water, the weak shower pressure, the tiny kitchen) are forgotten, and I think of what I’m about to give up. I’m sad. I've been trying to figure out why I do this to myself, and I think it’s my underlying insecurity. When I have something even a little bit good, I’m terrified of losing it, because, deep down, I know I’ll never have it that good again.
Experience has shown me that my fears are mostly unfounded. For example, to take the job I have now I had to leave a pretty good job, and I was terrified. I hemmed and hawed over taking this job, even though it was a lot more money, a longer contract, and better experience. I thought of every good thing about the job I was leaving and every horrible thing that could happen taking the new one. I chewed my dad’s ear off about this, and my last day at the old job I was miserable. When I got to the new job, in a different city, I was still miserable. I spent far too much of my free time self-medicating in the hotel bar.
But then, as it usually does, things got a lot better. A few paychecks in and my constant money worries started to ebb. I got through training, and I realized that not only was I pretty good at the work, I also enjoyed it. And I moved into the lake house.
I've done this to myself several times. Moves, job changes, relationships. I stayed for years in a job that made me miserable, thinking that it was not only the best I could do, but the best I could ever do. The only direction to go from there, I knew, was down. And out. In the end I couldn't leave it — they left me; or rather, they let me go. And I've never been happier. I should send them a thank-you card.
Every transition hasn't been an improvement. I have taken steps down. On at least one occasion my mistakes put me in a place where I was selling my graphic novels and CD's for food money. Those times were hard, and although they aren't recent, they aren't forgotten. So I worry. As I face leaving the lake I know I will worry. I have to find a new place and move my stuff into it; or barring that, I need to move back into a hotel. The hassle and uncertainty of this process will doubtlessly weigh on me. However, I’m getting better at it. I know that moving out isn't moving down. I’ll miss the house, sure, and the lake, and the birds; but I’m sure there’s more good to come.