On Leaving

When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave

  • Rick Nelson, “Garden Party”

Around this time in 2007 I had packed up my Plymouth Neon with as many of my possessions that I could fit alongside my girlfriend and set out on a three day trip from Wappingers Falls, New York to her home in San Marcos, Texas. I was glad to finally be leaving the state I had grown up in to start a new life with new opportunity.

Nine years later, I’m about to pack up a Penske truck with what few possessions I still have and return, alone, to New York. Next week I will be leaving Texas, likely for good.

It was earlier this year that the decision was made. The opportunity I had moved to Dallas for had not panned out. My social group in Austin had shrunk considerably after I started working for Texas State University, and further so after my divorce, so I had no desire to return there.

Texas in general has been a bad fit for me. That it took me this long to realize it means I’ve been slipping.

I have a great deal of interest in California and in Portland, Oregon, but I felt like whatever arc my life was taking didn’t involve those places. Maybe they’ll be suitable for the next panicked escape. This one required catharsis.

I had only been back to New York five times since I left it. My last trip back was when it sunk in that I really missed it. Missed it a lot. People and places alike, it felt like it was where I needed to be.

Once I had elected to return, I did what anyone else would do: develop an incredibly theatrical promotion around it using social media. Honestly, nobody does that. They say Hey, I’m moving! and that’s that.

When you’re not most people, you can’t act like most people. It’s that simple.

The need for theatrics stems from my apprehension. Overall, this move feels like the best thing for me. It likely is objectively so, though layers of mental illness prevent me from being able to state that as an absolute fact. That aside, I’m still incredibly scared.

I don’t have work lined up (I’m as bad at long distance job hunting as I am at long distance relationships). I don’t have any savings. I don’t know if the people I interact with on the internet and for brief periods in person when I’ve been in town will have me as a proper friend. My family, as much as I love them, are often people that behave in ways that I positively can’t abide.

To deal with this massive ball of anxiety, I came up with June 1. It was far too early to know if I’d actually be on the road by now (almost nailed it, but not for a freelance payment not yet having arrived in my mailbox), but it was a date. A marker. Like a movie opening or an album drop back when those meant something.

It was a thing to look forward to.

I realize that this is probably underwhelming. Not that the build was particularly good, but it’s certainly possible that you were expecting more. For that I apologize for being yet another disappointing thing in your life. It’s kind of what I do now: I deliver to expectations.

Mostly because nobody will offer me enough money to care enough to exceed them, but that’s another story.

On that depressing note, I should wrap up. I need coffee and should do more packing and cleaning. I always underestimate this process, but this time I have the advantage of most of my belongings still being packed from the move to Dallas. Things will likely look less overwhelming once I have the truck next week and can load things.

I want to take a quick moment to thank the people who have stuck by me at various points these last nine years. People like Chrishaun, Liz, Todd, and Samantha back in Central Texas. Like David, Liz, and Mariah here in Dallas. Like Alan in New York, who is going to let me surf his couch while we relaunch NerdNest Productions properly and I find some footing.

You are all wonderful people, and I’m sorry for being a miserable burden far too often. I think getting out of this miserable state (the political borders and the mental fugue it has put me in) might be the thing that finally lets me stand on my own two feet and be human again.

Whenever I leave somewhere, usually a job, I always throw it back to Rick Nelson at MSG trying something different in front of a crowd expecting the same old song. While the bulk of the audience was unreceptive to whatever Tom has been for nearly a decade, the people who still seem to care about me are the few bright spots, nodding their heads and thinking Yeah, this works, this is good as I sang my little ditty.

Wasn’t I going to wrap up?

I’ll babble about destroying my longstanding alter ego The Attackman in a later post. There will likely also be statuses and posts concerning how little I enjoy driving, how much I enjoy driving, how much my brain hates me, and awful my body is in the future.

You know, the kind of crap you’re used to from me.

There will be no more weird Instagram posts. Again, apologies for underwhelming if I did, and apologies for scaring anyone I did. Some nights the dirtbag that is my brain takes things a little far without regard for the audience.

Here’s to a new life in an old state, and that the next ten years of my life is far better than the previous ten. I’ll see you folks down the road.