For months, I’ve had a recurring dream. In the dream, I’m racing closer and closer to the edge of a cliff. I can feel my heart beating in my throat. I’m panting. My adrenaline and anxiety skyrocket by the second. I’m panicking, trying to figure out what will happen once I’m faced with the edge of the cliff. Will I free fall to my death? And how is it that I’ve been met with this ultimate demise?
Then the edge appears, after all the building anticipation all the foreboding fear. And instead of there being craggy rocks on the other side there’s a pristine, gentle mass of feathers. Some are fluttering above the blanket they’ve made on the ground, all the more still, quiet, unmoved as a whole.
Feathers. A bed of feathers is my fate. A soft cushion for my free fall to meet me. Some sort of silly assurance to console me intended to ease my fears, my worries, my own concerns.
Yet, I’d be woefully dishonest if I didn’t admit this dream, intended to be an extended metaphor for my life, to let me know subconsciously that despite whatever leap I take it’ll be okay, that it’s for the greater (and higher good) it hasn’t stopped me from hesitating, from taking a leap I’ve long known I needed to take.
And that leap is leaving DC, for good. Which I am doing, today.
In June, it will mark two years since I bid adieu to my Spanish adventure in Madrid. Two years since I packed up all my belongings in two suitcases and a carry on and trudged on to the nation’s capital, chasing after love and a relationship I was convinced would make all the difference in the world.
Two years since I’ve been able to breathe. Two years I’ve moseyed around cloaked in the heaviest of bouts of unhappiness I’ve ever made my own. Two years of being broke. Two years of feeling lonely. Two years of struggling to fit in in a city I never liked that much to begin with. Two years of every type of dead-end career wise. Two years of fooling myself I still wanted the things I thought I did.
Two years of mistaking the goals, dreams and desires of others as my own. Two years of not being in touch with what makes my heart sing and letting that guide me. Two years of settling. Two years of not having peace. Two years of being joyless.
And it was only in keeping the representation of what the past two years have been for me here in DC in the back of my mind, that two weeks ago I decided it was time for me to leap, to put an end to what has been six months of back and forth and indecision of whether or not to just return to Atlanta. I decided I was going to just follow my heart and stop settling. Stop trying to plant myself in a city where nothing had borne fruit despite my valiant, forceful, desperate pleas and efforts.
This leap, this gamble, this risk, this unpractical decision as many have prodded me as being, is for me. It’s self-care. It’s preservation. It’s shouting to the Universe that I know my happiness matters and I’m willing to back it up with action. It’s a radical notion I don’t expect others to understand.
No, I don’t have a plan, at least not one that would make others comfortable and ease their worries, concerns, fears or projections. I don’t concretely know what going back home will hold for me other than knowing I will be able to hold peace in the palm of my hand again and that it will ignite my spirit ablaze once more. I do know I will be able to rediscover my joy. I do know I will be able to breathe and not feel like I’m constantly failing and suffocating. I do know that once I have these things, life will begin to flow again and I’ll be guided to what I need to know and what I need to do. This makes it all worth everything. My peace, my joy, my happiness, the ability to breathe, the ability to separate myself for just myself from everyone and their “stuff” is life or death for me.
I look over all the writing I’ve been doing about my hometown the past few months and it’s a wonder why I didn’t see this coming. Why it wasn’t apparent to me sooner that I was bleeding my heart and the aching for being back in Atlanta for everyone to see. Why I couldn’t just convince myself to go back home, even if it’s just like a bow and arrow, that I’m taking a step back to go back home, contracting into the past, before I’m launched forward into who knows what else.
But there’s a certain bit of grief that accompanies leaving. This city has given me so much along with all it has taken. Most of the memories I have of DC are tinged with ferocious, raging sadness. Despite the warring grief my time here has signified, I see the beauty for ashes.
I never anticipated being submerged in sadness could make me rise to knowing how deeply I matter, how I am enough, of being emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy and strong. These are the impenetrable gifts I will cherish for the rest of my life. And they were born and came forth from melancholia.
I’ve journeyed through the hardest of times and the lowest of lows with my heart still in tact. It’s still beating and willing and wanting more. And it wants more for me, more than I can have where I have been.
And now, my heart will no longer ache for Atlanta nor ache for the peace I have needed.