Another birthday, I sometimes go into introspection during the month that I was born and just take a look back at my life. Without a plan they say it is impossible to reach your goal, this is true, however I must confess I have riding the waves of my life without a plan. The question that gets me every time is, “When are you going to settle down?” I can never understand what that means.
I am a master at giving up.
The first time I actually left home was when I went to camp, it was a week’s long camp held at a place in St. Mary called Robin’s Bay. It is a beautiful place with the sea that is just walking distance from our camp site. There were cabins that were called units, the girls on the hill and boys on the plain. I was excited as I had my good friend Dave there and he was fun to be around, finally away from home, in a cabin with 10 guys.
A whistle blew, it was time to get up, we needed to get a bath and prepare for parade where our beds were inspected and we had to stand in line to be inspected before the camp leaders came around to check on us, this was great! The activities were fast and furious before you knew it the day was done. Then she came over and introduced herself, Marcia! I will never forget that name, it was the first time in my entire life I was feeling what most persons call infatuation and it felt really good. Before you knew it camp was done and we had to go home. We wrote letters to each other, she could certainly write.
I was off to college as a freshman, my first year I worked to send myself to school, I was excited about the music, meeting new and interesting people and meeting new friends, and although I was an introvert I found interacting with people very easy. Then I met Nicola, I was always interested in meeting new people, you just never knew what you were getting and so I fell in love with travelling, meeting new people, learning new songs, once it was new it got my interest.
Sitting in a classroom for hours was just not my thing, however if you wanted to learn you had to and so for the first year of my college experience I tried, grades were not too bad, but I was better than that and I knew it. After spending some years in college and not getting closer to my degree I decided I had enough, it would mean breaking classes to work and the grades were horrible, I was not concentrating and I was furious with myself.
I was always looking for something more, for something new, for something other. I wanted to See It All and, in my head, I could hear those capital letters. It was the closest thing I felt to a mission in life. How could I understand anything – the world, myself – if I hadn’t seen everything? I loved people however they were always expecting, if you were at college and did not graduate it meant you wasted your time, it just never felt that way to me, I learned a whole lot in college, in fact I learned so much more about myself.
And to be really honest, a part of me loved the shallowness of it all, how I could dip my foot in one world and then move on to another. Call it wanderlust or irresponsibility, but I always felt like I was better at doing something new than maintaining something familiar. For 30 years, I skimmed across the surface of the world like the skipping stones I used to fling across the stream by my friend parent’s house.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize something very simple: staying in one place is as unique and specific an experience as traveling to somewhere I’d never been, and there were things to be discovered in stillness as well as in motion. I thought settling down would be easy when the time came, without even thinking that it might require a different set of muscles – ones I’d never exercised. I knew the non-routine of waking up without a plan would catch up with me one day but I honestly did not care; how to orient myself to a new life, find people and make fast and easy friendships. I didn’t know how to pay the bills, or commit to a job or value an object enough to keep it when it couldn’t fit inside a backpack. I stayed too long at home and so I decided to leave, that was easy and so I left. I will never forget the question my mother asked, “Why are you going, you do not even have a girlfriend for marriage?” By then I was in my thirties, what is she talking about?
The idea of “settling down” frightened me a little … but if a new experience was really my goal, I thought maybe the thing that seemed the hardest to do was the thing I needed to do the most.
I began to make forays into permanency, but it took falling in love to make it stick – as I suspect is true for many people like me. A relationship provided both the tether and excitement that I needed, and my partners were caring enough to work through their fear that I might drift away again. After years of trying and failing at relationships I finally decided to get married, I was now very tired of hearing it, ‘when are you going to get serious?’ I dreaded family get together, friends who I had not seen in a long time, church people, shallow people and one track minded people.
He is wild, he needs to settle down.
At times, staying put has felt scary and vulnerable. You accrue; your past piles up and you can’t (or at least won’t) walk away from it. It’s not about their being bad things I’ve wanted to escape, but rather about allowing the moss of everyday life to grow on me. There have been days that I’ve wanted to shake myself off and run again, but there were once weeks on the road when all I wanted to do was stop and rest for a while. Sometimes you want what you don’t have. That’s life.
I was living in the quiet community of Stony Hill, I was now working with Jamaica Public Service for a while, I was tired of meeting new people, maybe people were right, settling down was the right thing to do. I got introspective and decided that maybe this friend of mine that I dated years ago would be the personality for me, she was quiet and certainly was not intimidating, so settling down with her never seem so bad or was I settling?
Whatever it was I thought it would be a welcome change, I still liked my old life, but I felt I was failing everybody else’s expectation of me, as being in your late thirties and having your younger brothers married, then maybe they were right, something was wrong with me.
I did it! I got married on August 3, 2003 and it felt really good. Would you believe it if I shared it with you, however within months of getting married I wanted to run, was this the institution people were talking about as the goal to having a degree, getting a job so you can own a home and get a couple of kids? I can fake it until it was normal for me, wearing mask was not new to me, I could pull it off, folks would think I am happy, I would say that I am until it became my reality, the harder I tried the harder it became however it was not my decision to end it and so my marriage failed, at least fingers were not being pointed my way, however it felt good being on my own again, I was not bitter about being divorced, if you compare this was way better.
There I was on the path of feeling this sense of freedom that no words can describe, sure I believe in love, family and all that jive, my parents and grandparents were perfect examples of a long and lasting union, however like baptism, there are just some things you need to choose for yourself, no one can choose for you and they certainly should not dictate to you when and that is true for career and marriage.
I will never forget the reason why I got baptized, I cannot remember much else, but I was told I needed to give my heart to the Lord because he was coming real soon and if I did not do it now I would go straight to hell, I could not sing in church again, I could not participate in some of the programmes and if anyone knows me, they know I love to worship. I will never forget how these individuals made me feel, my mother being the main perpetrator, I felt betrayed… something inside was not ready but I did it anyway and for a long time resented not having made that choice on my own and being prompted by the Holy Spirit, but as you grow older you realize that Christians sometimes do not have a clue.
What is important to me is to be comfortable in my own skin, doing it my way, taking time to smell the roses and to love the persons I come in contact with. I still run away from arguments, chaos, bullets, noise and abuse, settle down, I wonder what that means in english?
I am trying my hand at business, I am writing blogs, I am playing the piano, I am now penniless and homeless and I have never felt so free in all my life, reminds me of those days when I was young and free… I love it. Do I want to settle down or settle? There is one thing I am sure about, I am contented and I feel happy and the decisions I make in my life is for me and no one else. I just want to buy a caravan and keep moving, where I live that is impossible, however that is what I like, meeting new people and encouraging them in faith and self-acceptance.
Or maybe this is the last new address I’ll ever have. Either way, it will be the thing I’ve always wanted: something new. To all my friends, I am practicing snappy answers to your settling down question.
These are funny, but I am still undecided as to which one to use:
Why would I make one gal miserable, when I can make so many women so happy?”
I just like my own space way too much to have to give it up.
Well, with depreciating assets, I prefer to lease.
Why should I buy a house for a woman I don’t like?
Marriage can be a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution, been there done that.
My mail order bride hasn’t arrived yet.
Do not get me wrong, marriage is a fine institution and can be a wonderful experience, it takes two, God and a little luck, however it is not age bond, do it when you are ready, and for no other reason.