Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happiness is in the Heart of the Beholder

"You will never be happy."

That’s what my father-in-law told me recently. I was sharing how in the near future I hope to find myself and my husband out of Las Vegas and living in a place that:

* Is green with real, live vegetation, not from fake lawns
* Has water in the form of lakes, ponds, creeks or rain
* Doesn’t have accidents on every corner like some cities have 7-11s
* Where we actually have conversations and social encounters with our neighbors
* Where I can go outside without having a heat, not hormone-induced, hot flash
* Where I can stop saying to myself, "in the next place we live…."

In some ways my father-in-law is right; I’ve never expressed supreme happiness living in Las Vegas. In fact, in the 21 years since I’ve lived here I have left it twice permanently (or so I thought), left it temporarily a few times more than that, and have left it mentally a thousand times. He’s probably referring to the many times our family (sometimes just me and the girls) have moved in the last 20 years.

Prior to moving to the desert I had made it a habit of moving around a lot. From New York it was Washington State, from there Simi Valley, then Moorpark, California; then Jacksonville, Oregon, back to Simi Valley, with one extended stay back home in Corfu, New York. Back to Moorpark, then Las Vegas; from there I was certain the Yosemite, California or the two New York excursions were my ticket out – but alas, Las Vegas, as Al Pacino succinctly put it, “kept pulling me right back in.”

Now my mind has me dreaming of Oregon, where one daughter and my 7-year-old grandson have escaped to; where the other daughter is said to head to in the near future. The thought of being a quick car drive, not an airplane ride away from all of them is a strong motivation. So is the lush, green, wet, cold region.

I thrive on change. I can’t help it if I have never been drawn to the stationary life. As much as I admire my many friends who married their high school loves, live in the same community where they grew up and send their children to the same schools they attended, I just know that life is not for me.

If my parents had lived I just know my life path would have followed the one I just described; I would probably never have gone further than the village bounds. But that isn’t what happened. I flew the coop at an early age, no moss grew under my feet; and I reveled in the experiences.

Yes, so much change causes upheaval and instability. It also gifts those lucky enough to experience it certain skills that aid them in life. That’s how it’s been for me – I have little fear of the unknown, can figure things out as they happen, and I can share all sorts of great stories about the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been.

A Dixie Chicks song pretty much sums it up for me:

My friends from high school
Married their high school boyfriends
Moved into houses in the same ZIP codes
Where their parents live

But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

I hit the highway in a pink RV with stars on the ceiling
Lived like a gypsy
Six strong hands on the steering wheel

I've been a long time gone now
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
But I've always found my way somehow

By taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

I met the queen of whatever
Drank with the Irish and smoked with the hippies
Moved with the shakers
Wouldn't kiss all the asses that they told me to

No I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

It's been two long years now
Since the top of the world came crashing down
And I'm getting' it back on the road now

But I'm taking the long way
Taking the long way around
I'm taking the long way
Taking the long way around
The long
The long way around

Well, I fought with a stranger and I met myself
I opened my mouth and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself

But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found

Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
The Long Way Around, from the album, Taking the Long Way (2006)

My father-in-law just doesn’t get me. I can be happy. I just need to keep moving, that’s all.


Sniffles and Smiles said...

This is delightful!!! AND you are a kindred spirit!!!! An adventurer at heart!!! You just keep movin' and enjoy the journey no matter what anybody else says!!! That's what makes you so wonderful!!!I give you a standing ovation!!!! ~Janine XO

AmyK said...

I moved 1000 miles from friends and family in Feb. I'm not a wanderer at heart. Daughter # 3 is. It's ironic I use a Dixie Chick song for her too. "Wide Open Spaces". She left Michigan to live and work in Teton National Park. She loves it. Some butterflies need space to develop their beauty. You must be one of them too.

Lisa Gioia-Acres said...

Thank you for those lovely comments. You both have made me feel much better about my "different self."

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oregon is a pretty awesome place and a huge change from the desert. Let us know when you start packing.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

No wonder I can't keep you straight, with all that moving around. Great post, Lisa. And you always seem happy to me!