If you asked some people I know, the friends and family that have known me for years, they would call me a risk-taker. I have quit jobs with nothing to fall back on but an idea. I once moved 14 hours from home to a city sight-unseen with nothing in my pocket but one month’s rent and $200 and nothing lined up to do when I arrived. I applied to law school on a dare. I start new projects all the time with no idea how or if I can do them. I plan vacations in post-hurricane towns. I have been, at one point or another, told to “grow up,” get my “head out of the clouds,” and given the ol’ “I told you so.” And quite a few of my more staid friends would refer to me as “the wild one” if they had to list me among the other stable, mortgage-holding citizens they know.
The other side of the story is that I have had adventures some of them can’t even imagine. I have met my fair share of the extremes of humanity and lived to tell the tale. And I also actually pay (most of) my bills on time every month, hold down a pretty competitive fellowship, have a chapbook coming out next month, and manage to keep myself fed, dressed, and washed on a fairly regular schedule. To some of my law school classmates and co-workers, I’m sure I look like a goody-two-shoes teacher’s pet who has milk and cookies before bed every night.
It’s all a matter of who you ask.
But, I have noticed that as time goes on I’ve become, well, risk-averse. Instead of leaping into a new job when it came open, I mulled it over for a week, weighed the pro’s (no more being micromanaged, a Starbucks nearby) and the con’s (no promotion and raise in the fall, which is guaranteed in my current job; the loss of a key project I’ve been working on) and decided to stay put. Stable Mable. And while the list of reasons not to marry the fiance’ are in bold print in front of my face, and he’s been told where to stick it, I am hedging my bets for a bit. We’ve talked about the lease ending in May, the spare bedroom, the custody of the fishbowl- but we’ve also spent some time not screaming and crying. Actual rational adult discussions about consequences and whether it would ever be possible for me not to be a nervous wreck if he stayed out late one night. About how to be friends if it goes badly, and what that would feel like.
And so, I’m biding my time here in limbo. I’m looking before I leap. Knowing that it’s not a one-sided cliff. On one side, the leap is towards aloneness for the first time in quite a while. On the other, it’s into marriage. And I’m dancing on the head of this pin as fast as I can, because on a rainy Wednesday, it’s too much to ask for decisions. Sometimes, it’s just enough to sit down and let the river rush around you. And stay still.
Saving strength for that leap- whichever way I land.