Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why it's not the end, just the beginning of whatever comes next

The feeling I had when I submitted my very first offer on a condo--first time as a potential home-buyer and also simultaneously as my own licensed real estate agent--was...anti-climactic. Is that it? Now what? The answer to that like the answer to so many other things in life: Now, you wait.  

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I've started this post so many times, but I never quite wanted to make it final. So I left it gathering dust in my drafts folder, only to come back to it and realize it wasn't quite right. Things had happened in my life that would require updating in blog form, but still I never really knew. How do you know when it's the end?

Here is the original blog post that I started months ago:

Endings are always strange and a little bit sad. Stranger still when they are completely self-determined and arbitrary. This thing I've been doing? I'm not going to do it anymore. Just thought you should know. See? Strange. But it would be even stranger to say nothing at all, and so here I am. This little corner of the web has been languishing for a while, and rather than continue posting every month, then two months, the trickle slowing to a drip-drop, it seemed more graceful to conclude things formally. The tier-up-of-loose-ends in me would have it no other way.

A long time ago I wrote poetry. Every once in a while whenever the mood struck I would scribble stanzas in a notebook and feel better. My last semester of college I took a creative writing course and I cranked poems out for credit by the week. At the end of a semester equal parts creatively fulfilling and exhausting, I had a very clear thought: I think I might never write another poem again. Not because that was what I wanted, but because it was true; it was simply the way things were. And after that, true enough, I never did write another poem. It was neither a good thing nor a bad thing; at one time it had been something I needed to do, and now it no longer was. I had a very similar realization recently about this blog. It wasn't surprising; it felt a natural and right conclusion, though a year or two or three ago, I would have been shocked. For a while I thought I was going to be a lifer here, thought I would always be doing this in some form or another; chronicling all of life's milestones, keeping a virtual record. But after a long semester of blogging--six (and a half) years' worth--it feels like I have reached some sort of natural conclusion. Things have changed. Blogging is different now, and I am also different now.

Six (and a half) years ago I was living in Boston. I had recently ended things (been forced to end things) with the person I thought I would be with forever. Heart-broken is a word that is too casually thrown around to describe what I actually was, which was shell-shocked, a walking exposed nerve, and utterly lost. Looking back, I should have gone to therapy, I should have done a lot of things, but instead I started a blog. And I started dating. Then I moved to France, I dated, and I blogged about it. And I moved to Ithaca, I dated, and I blogged about it. Then I moved to DC and, well. 

In the back of my mind, I always hoped that if one day I did decide to stop blogging, that I would go out with a triumphant, look-at-me-now-world post. I hoped that I would be able to (only sort of gloatingly) say that it had all been worth it, because I had finally gotten everything I had ever wanted. But I guess that's not really the way life works, is it? In any case, I present to you my Look-At-Me-Now-World post, the Tempered Expectations Version. This is where I am now:

At my boss's request, I recently got my real estate license. At the moment it is not doing much for me, but hopefully in the near future it will allow me to start earning some fat commission checks. I know better than to count on that happening, but at best it would be nice, and at worst, there is no worst. 

Also, perhaps relatedly, I think I should point out that I do not hate my job. It may not sound like much, but this is kind of a big deal. I have come a long way since a year ago when my boss, by way of welcoming me into the fold, told me, "I hope this is the last job you'll ever have," and I nearly had a panic attack thinking about it. Because while certain men have problems committing to relationships, I have commitment-phobia about jobs. And while I certainly do not see myself entering my retirement years here--life is long, after all--hanging out here for a while no longer feels like the end of the world. 

That being said, over the last few months, in addition to studying for and taking the real estate exam, I've also been studying for and then taking the Foreign Service Exam. I went into it sort of on a whim, and with low expectations for success; the Foreign Service is notoriously difficult to get into, after all, and most people who do ultimately end up passing have taken the exam multiple times. But after months of reading up on my history and geography and memorizing Presidents and Constitutional Amendments, would you like to venture a guess as to which section I didn't earn enough points to pass? Not the multiple choice, not the history/geography/Presidents/amendments section, no. A brief pause for irony, here--the essay. I failed the motherflipping essay. Humility, thy name is blogger. Anyway, maybe I'll take it again next year. And if it doesn't work out? Like I said, it's not the end of the world.

It's not that I've become complacent; there are still so many things that I want. But no, actually, not so many things. A house and someone to share it with, that's really it. Maybe it will happen for me, one day. I hope so. I want to say that even if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world, but, well, baby steps.

Though blogging no longer fills the same space in my life it once did, I will still be around, in some form or another. You can keep up with me on Twitter, in the rare event I decide to tweet (or more likely retweet) something there. If you'd like, you can also send me a friend request on Facebook, and if I know you from the blogosphere or recognize you as a commenter, I'll add you. And you can always send me an e-mail at diaryofwhy at gmail, if you want to be old school. (Apparently people don't e-mail anymore? And when did this happen? Get off my lawn.)  

And that was it. That was where I ended, thinking I would come up with something final and profound to say later. But the profundity? It is not coming. Instead, while I was waiting for The Sign, I got this sweetest of e-mails, an excerpt of which is below:
"This might sound the teensiest bit stalkerish - but I just went through all your blog today. All the posts. 6 years worth of them. 
Well, it also sounds as if I didn't have a life - but I'm a college student during summer break. So I'm investing my 2 months of vacation doing things I love. And by things I love, I mean reading blogs :)

All I wanted to say was that I loved every post you wrote. Some made me laugh my ass off, some made me cry, and most of them made me think. I love when a blog does that. And I love how your writing has improved so much over the years."
Then a few days ago I got this e-mail, to which I still haven't replied (oh my god I am the worst).
"I am a huge fan of your blog. Please keep writing and tell us what is going on in your life.  Are you thinking of going back to try teaching? Or continuing to look for other office jobs? I enjoy your writing."
I think that profound thing I was looking for to end with is simply this: Thank you. Thank you for caring and thank you for commenting or e-mailing or just reading. Thank you.

I'm not planning on shuttering this space, and don't take me out of your feeds just yet, because there's always the chance that I'll show up here again one day with that triumphant, Look-At-Me-Now-World post after all. Who knows? Anything's possible.