Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Kind of Idiot?

I am at the freest time of my life: the kids grown and gone and not dependent on my wallet, a very secure career that pays really well and has great benefits, debt-free. I live in a nice house, have plenty of leisure time, wake up pretty much when I feel like it after a restful 8 hours of sleep. My only obligation is to go to work as scheduled. I am healthy, happy, have plenty of friends, I'm single... but that will be the subject of another blog.
What's missing? I didn't know, but for a long time I felt that I'm not where I'm supposed to be. How could that be? I have pretty much everything except a significant other, and I already said that would be a topic for another blog:-).
I did everything backwards. I married very young, had children immediately after marriage. By the time I was 22 I was divorced with 2 kids to care for. Even more complicated: I grew up overseas, but found myself suddenly alone, in America... just me and those two kids. I didn't know how to be an adult, how to be a parent or how to live in a country I had only had a passing acquaintance with growing up.
I scrambled for work, doing anything that would feed/clothe/house the Monster-Babies. There were two stints of homelessness and several times, ashamed, I took my place in welfare lines. It was truly a life of desperation.
Until I had the great fortune of landing a job in a Federal Facility: everything turned around, then! I had money to support the kids - by then teenagers, I had money to earn social acceptance - no longer did I sense sneers as I handed over my foodstamps, I had buying power... what a heady feeling all this was!
All too soon, the kids moved away, ready for their own life. The life I had built - great job, secure finances, ect suddenly meant less without them to fend for, and I wondered what to do with myself.
I decided to pursue a college education, having never had time/money for one in my younger days. Guess what? I was really good at academia! The succession of A's first surprised me, then pleased me and, most importantly, earned me a spot on an academic delegation to China. That is where my world went from black and white to color: I suddenly understood my calling and knew where I had to be.
After the challenges life has thrown at me, and how I was able to overcome them without sinking into despair, indeed rising above every miserable vagary I was faced with to achieve the life I have now - successful career complete with professional respect, kids happily established in their own life, financial freedom, ect. I have to ask myself: what kind of idiot walks away from such a life, especially after working so hard to achieve it?
I guess I would be that idiot. Today is my last day working with my esteemed colleagues and even better boss. For the next 3 weeks I will be carless, homeless and jobless, traveling across America to visit the friends I'm fortunate to know before boarding a plane and, once again, starting life in a strange, new place. I've condensed my earthly possessions into two footlockers which are currently on their way to China and the life that awaits me there as a teacher of foreign languages (I speak several of them, but only some Mandarin).
I invite you to partake of my adventures, share the laughs and feel the dismay. Maybe, if I imagine you are reading this, I can dispel some of the loneliness I'm sure to feel at some point in time while getting used to living in a country where I cannot even read the billboards or grocery shop. But mostly, through reading my blog, I hope you will see that life is NOT over at (nearly) 50: there are still adventures to be had, new things to learn, new experiences to savor, new sights to enjoy.
C'mon! Let's go live a vagabond's life!