An Advice Column I Write to Myself, Letter Eight — Q: Dear Kelly, What if we made a mistake?
At the beginning of the year, Nic and I moved to Madison, WI. The company he worked for was opening a new branch and wanted him to be a part of it. I have loved moving for as long as I can remember. I thought I was into it. I was proud of Nic. He seemed excited. We decided yes.
But right before the move happened, I started freaking out. Crying myself to sleep. Imagining unsafe scenarios and unwise decisions playing out. I started looking at the real cost of daycare and my real resume and my real work/life desires and I was like, ‘Oh holy shit, what if we are making a mistake?’
Then we moved.
It’s been six and a half months and I am telling you something I don’t even want to say — but almost every single day since we got here, I have looked around and thought, ‘ohmygod, I think we made a mistake.’
You know what’s funny, though? It feels like we can’t undo it. I mean, we can’t — right? We can’t turn around and make life the same as it was before we got here. We can’t just pack back up and run ‘home.’ This is home now. We can’t undo the debt we amassed during these months. It’s our debt now. We can’t make anything that happened untrue. So is it weird to obsess over the move, thinking it was a ‘mistake?’ What is a mistake? What matters now?
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Hey, darlin! It’s been a minute since you wrote me. What have you been doing lately? Just crying over the move? Crying over your debt? Crying over the futility of your dreams? Yeah?! Well, at least you’re feeling things. Never stop feeling things. Some people think feelings are less important than action, but feelings call us to action. Don’t forget that.
So. You want to know if moving to Madison was a mistake.
Well, it sounds like it might have been. Ha!
But — I mean — who cares if it was? People make mistakes all the fucking time. And then they figure out where they faltered, and move forward. You can do that too.
I mean, I hear you on the debt. That sucks. But you’re an American! Americans fuckin love debt. And they do suprisingly well for themselves, even knee deep in it. Just keep your breathing passages open and you’ll come out of it, in time. Make your minimum payments. Sometimes, make the minimum payments plus $10. Yeah, you may be paying shit off until you die, but just keep putting your head down and do it. That’s all you can do now.
And you want to know what a mistake is? Well, it’s a take that may have been a misstep. A mis-take. Just take another one! Stop beating yourself up, thinking you did something wrong. Stop obsessing over the entire idea of a good move versus a mis-take. You know that when people make movies, they literally take like hundreds and hundreds of takes, right? Every shitty take just gets thrown by the wayside, and they take another take. Again and again and again and again. They keep the same (highly talented!) actors in the ring and they just do it all over again.
So let’s talk about who you have had in the ring with you, in these past six months. Nic and Ollie and Bela. And surely Ollie has suffered some maybe from this move, but he also really likes taking walks by the water here and has enjoyed his bike rides and loves his little neighbor pals — and does any of that sound like something you would want to undo? And Bela has gone swimming twice and has been made an honorary employee at both of your jobs. Haven’t you noticed how high she holds her head, when she’s on her way into work? And even though you and Nic have never felt anything near the stress of the last six months, and even though you have maybe bickered here more than you had in the past — the two of you are still sick, amazing, bewildering best friends. You still fell asleep two nights ago — in your shittyass, weird, uncomfortable, tiny bedroom — holding hands. How lucky are you, to have made a mistake with your best friend by your side? Which brings me to my next thought, and I’m going to close with it. When you are making moves with someone that solid next to you, I’m not totally sure there is such a thing as a mistake.