I suppose I should mention here how I typically come to make important decisions in my life. Very seldom is it a matter of personal choice, but rather I tend to find myself in situations where my options have been stripped, and I have no other choice than the one I'm making. It's a sad state of being, but one I'm sure others here can relate to.
For example, I did not choose to come to Southern Maryland. At the time I had decided to move back home with my parents, I was in the throws of an awful crack and morphine habit, I was sick, skinny, broke, and dying. My options were to stay in Northern Virginia and couch-surf until I could afford my own accommodations, kill myself, or go ahead and move back in with my folks. Of those, I picked the sanest one, to be sure, but it was not my choice.
Growing up a military brat, I've pretty much been dependent on my parents for everything, and soft prey to whatever whims move them about. I've moved 16 times since I was a kid, nearly every time because my father's job uprooted us. It's a maddening, shiftless existence, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Moving around constantly may make some people more self-sufficient or worldly, but in my case, I think it made me angry, depressed, and maladjusted. I had problems forming friendships that I had no hope of sustaining. I became a bitter misanthrope.
The point is, I've never really moved anywhere because I wanted to, but more because my parents were moving and I had to keep a roof over my own head. I had no choice in the matter.
There has only been one exception, and that was Richmond. At 22, I found myself coming off of dope, repairing my GPA, and dreaming of going to a four-year college instead of community high-school-part-two. I wanted my degree, I wanted to get away, I wanted to do something for myself. I figured a geographical cure would do it. So I moved to Richmond and attended VCU. For my first two years there, I was drug free, in great shape, on the dean's list, and loving every moment. I felt free. Even though my parents were graciously paying for my tuition and expenses (they may have uprooted me a lot, but they still get straight A's for their Herculean patience), I still felt like I was one step closer to cutting the umbilical cord. Not only that, but I loved the city I lived in. It was artsy, interesting, and entertaining, as were the people there. It was the first place I had ever lived where I felt truly at home.
My last year there was not a slam dunk of debauchery, but I did have my moments. I wasn't clean, but my addiction had not resurfaced to the point where it was disrupting everything in my life. I suppose I should have realized that it would eventually take me down, but at the time my future still seemed bright, and I still felt like I was in control.
I did not choose to leave Richmond as much as I chose to play things safe. I loved it there, and I wanted to stay, but I had started dating someone who lived in Northern Virginia, and he didn't want to live in Richmond. After graduating, I didn't feel confident that I could support myself with my scant professional experience, so I moved back to the nest, which had since relocated to Southern Maryland via my father's job, and made plans to move back to Northern VA with my boyfriend. It wasn't that I wanted to live in Northern VA again. I detested that place and everything in it. But I loved my boyfriend, so I figured it could work.
Well, it didn't work. I found a job and a place, and moving into our apartment was great until we met our neighbors, who happened to be crack dealers. From there, things spiraled downward until I thudded at rock-bottom, he left me, and I was once again confronted with my lack of options.
So now, I have moved out of the nest again, into my own place with my love. I'm in a much healthier relationship. We have our bad moments at times, but love is a many splendored thing, as they say, and we work hard to let it prevail. We also work hard to bring out the best in each other. But this PLACE isn't very conducive to our goals, personally or professionally. So we've decided to get the fuck out of Southern Maryland. Or, rather, I've decided to, and he has agreed.
Now I realize that there is no such thing as a geographical cure. But that is NOT what we're going for. When I say that this place is the problem, I literally mean it. There are no job opportunities for anyone here unless they are in the military or have IT or engineering experience. The rent prices and cost of living are ridiculous, and there is NOTHING TO DO HERE. I long for a place with art museums, poetry readings, concerts, cheap apartments, and vegetarian restaurants. I long for a place where I can walk anywhere I need to go, or take the bus. I long for the bustle of a big city with the soul of a small town. I long for Richmond!
So right now the only thing keeping us here is the wedding, for which we've already booked the church and reception site, among other things. We are both struggling to find better-paying jobs so that we can beef up our finances for relocation. But this meantime will be about a year, which I think will allow us enough time to make proper arrangements both for the wedding and what comes after.
BUT IT WILL HAPPEN. Not because I have no other options. Not because someone else is going to Richmond and dragging me with them. This time it is truly my decision. And it feels amazing to decide.