It wasn’t until I took Rocky to the vet yesterday that I realized I’ve already been here in Indiana for four months. That means it’s been four months at this job, four months in this apartment, four months into deployment, four months into finding out what this season of life is all about. I like to reflect, so I sat in that realization for a bit. I wanted to look at what I had done in these four months and what I intended to do with the next three that I’m here.
I let that stew in my head for a bit, thinking about the ways in which I’ve learned and grown. To be honest, I did not like it here at first. I was not happy at first. It was hot, I had just said “goodbye” to my boyfriend for nine months, and it was all very new here. I was in a job I felt incapable of doing well, in an apartment with no air conditioning, with no feeling of community. Yes, I know, I’m whining. Stick with me here.
I sat in my Tommy Bahama folding chair, sweating my butt off, crying because I was just sure this was how it was going to be for three months. The amount of times I sat in the middle of my kitchen floor, holding Rocky and crying are too many to count. As I eagerly started looking for my next assignment about a month into this one, I kept hearing, “you’re not done here.” WHAT!? The hell I wasn’t. I was ready to pack up my car and drive to California. That was my plan. So I began the process. I applied for the license and my recruiter started looking for jobs. A job came up in Northern California, which is where I was hoping to be. Then again, “you’re not done” popped into my head. Noooooo, I thought to myself. I am done here.
I was having a late night phone conversation with Mike when I brought it up. He was as surprised as I was. Knowing me very well, he asked if it was because I had finally gotten into somewhat of a routine. He asked if it was because I was comfortable. I sat in that for a bit, asking myself the same question. Short answer: no, I wasn’t comfortable. In fact, the comfortable move would’ve been going back to California.
I word vomited with my recruiter and she said, “Dani, it’s OK if you want to stay.” I word vomited more. “Dani, it sounds like you want to stay.” I word vomited some more, trying to convince myself more than her. Finally, at the end of the phone call, I had decided I would stay. I was unsure, but I was trying to be trusting.
Alright, okay. Fine, I was staying in Indiana. I felt like a toddler, looking up at God, stomping my feet. This was not part of my plan! I felt Mike have a shift during his deployment. He started to get into a rhythm; he started to find his “why”. I knew my “why” with my job. I stayed because I love the kiddos I see and the people I work with. While that’s a big part of my time, there is still a good chunk of time that I have to myself. My go-to is to fill that time by going to the gym, but I needed to find adventure outside of the confines of the gym.
I feel myself come alive when I’m exploring. I don’t have to be anywhere fancy, I just need to be somewhere new. I feel this sense of endless possibilities when I’m exploring a new place. I love big cities but I can explore smaller areas as well. Now, it should be known the town I live in was explored to its entirety my first two weeks here. We have a CVS, some fast food places, and a coffee shop/thrift store that never seems to be open when I want to walk over there.
So I’ve learned to scratch that itch and indulge my desire for adventure. Gosh, the scenery is incredible here in the fall, it’s not hard to find a place to gawk at. I told Mike, I think before we even started dating, that I had gotten good at being by myself. While I initially thought that was something not to brag about, I’ve found that I take pride in the fact that I can grab a seat at any bar, restaurant, movie theater, coffee shop, and sit in the moment without wishing the time away. Sometimes I have Rocky and he’s always the star of the show. Sometimes I have just me and I enjoy those moments a little less without him, but enjoy the nonetheless.
It was a few weeks ago that I found myself not just having time by myself but thoroughly enjoying the time I had by myself. I was not wishing the moment away or counting down until when it would be that Mike woke up and we’d get to talk. Not this time. No, this time I was soaking it in. I looked up from my damn phone and saw the leaves as they changed, listened to the people in their small town as they caught up on life, took note of places I wanted to come back to. A smile crept across my face as I thought, this is why you’re here.
So here I am, still trying to dig into that “why” and make sure I don’t lose sight of it. Three more months in Indiana and I know there are many adventures to still be had, both in the scenery that’s explored and the things I discover about myself.
Adventure on, sweet friends.