At half past midnight I parked my car. I turtled my neck against the window, this old city surrounding me. Baltimore. Before I knew what was happening, I placed my forehead against the backs of my hands, took a huge breath, and began sobbing.
The entire eight-and-a-half hour ride felt so normal. A car full of shit, Blue’s head bobbing in her new dog bed in the back seat. I have crossed the country in so many ways: Phoenix to Denver, Denver to Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo to New York… but this wasn’t, isn’t, the same aimless territory, the same return to floating.
I’m staying here. At least for a little while? And I arrived off the freeway and with each block felt heavier, heavier.
The last two weeks I felt a non-feeling about Baltimore itself. I was excited to Move. I was grateful for Alex. I was already missing Sally. But I somehow did not prepare, did not know I needed to prepare, for the arrival.
I talked to myself through the sobs, You are going to like Baltimore. Alex and everyone is going to take care of you. You are excited about this! It’s going to be fine. You’re going to be happy here. — but it was the kind of thing that affirmations seemed to make worse.
I am Terrified.
To be in Baltimore is to have made some kind of decision. It is to be at the mercy of kindness given by another person I feel I am not returning. It is anxiety that my dog will be so unhappy, that I will be so unhappy, that this city will just be a place that wraps me in the same numb neutral blank brokenness: where am I going. what am I doing. why am I here.
I cried and cried despite knowing I was being waited for. The brownstones felt like familiar Brooklyn, the city felt like familiar belonging. I was made to be in concrete. My body, though, couldn’t contain Fear.
I am trying to remember to think about Today and Tomorrow. I am trying to set small goals and celebrate achieving them. I am trying to make room for creativity. I am trying to sit in gratitude without being overwhelmed by it’s reminder of what I am not currently able to return.
It is hard, right now. I will admit, (surprise), it is hard.
Today was productive and celebratory and a testament to what my old boss incessantly told me I do: I hit the ground running. I toured the neighborhood with Alex, went to two interviews, a meeting, ran with Blue, bought groceries (if you know me you know I Hate With All My Heart grocery shopping), put my things into Alex’s room, even scheduled a tinder for Sunday. Inside of this hides a terror that I remember existing inside of me when I moved to Dumas.
It wasn’t there when I went to Little Rock, or Denver, when my work was cut out for me and the world was shining and I felt like I knew what I was doing. But the move to Sherwood, the move to Dumas, this Baltimore day: I remember, now, the unease that comes even when I feel so confident in my decision.
I truly, truly don’t know what I’m doing here. People keep asking what direction I want to head in and I just want to cry. Don’t you know that is the essential question? Don’t you know if I knew I would be going there? I am trying to be Here. I am trying to be Now. I am trying to be the version of myself people tell me I am.