I was raised to be afraid of leaving. Only one family member, an aunt, ever left this place. She had a terrible time, following a husband who schemed and dreamed but never provided. She and her son were often homeless and living on peanut butter waiting to be brought home by my grandparents. When she left that marriage, she returned here and never left again. No, we are not people who leave. I was taught leaving here, being away from the support of my family, meant resigning myself to heartache, disappointment, homelessness, hunger, and possible abuse. My family has chained itself to this place like the people in the Devil card. They could take the chains off at any time, if only they realized it. Their fear keeps them from seeing clearly.
Leaving, in my family, is also a betrayal. It means you think you’re better than, more important than, or someone who doesn’t think they need family. I can’t recall anyone ever speaking about my Aunt’s time away as something powerful for her, something positive, it was delivered to me as a warning.
It wasn’t until I found myself head over heels for someone living 700 miles from me that I ever seriously entertained the idea of moving. It was planted by my desire to be closer to her. I thought about what would be necessary for my daughter and me to have a good life, a safe place to live, and a community in a place where we really didn’t know anyone. I contemplated, dreamed, researched, and waited thinking I was waiting for the time to be just right. The relationship ended, but my desire to move didn’t fade.
I no longer wanted to be in Atlanta. There was no real pull for me there without this relationship but I knew I wanted to move. My lover had given me the space to put aside the handed down fear and sink into the idea of creating a whole new life for myself and my daughter. I kept thinking about where I might want to live. I travel a lot for spiritual retreats and writing conferences. I began to see each place as a possible new home. I was sometimes surprised at what I discovered.
I had expected to leave the South, having shunned much of my Southern roots to this point, but when I found myself in Savannah, Georgia I felt like I had come home. The slow pace of life, the thick accent people spoke with, the energy of the land and the hanging moss throughout the town pulled me in and I wanted to stay forever. This feeling was reinforced by the closeness of the ocean and the waves washing over my body as I cooled down on a hot June afternoon. I fell in love.
I had not expected this. I figured being queer, kinky, sometimes poly, and a witch that I was bound for San Francisco. When I visited there this February I was stunned to feel no call to the land whatsoever. I enjoyed visiting and would like to again, but I didn’t have any connection at a soul level and I couldn’t imagine myself moving there. I wanted to be on the east coast, preferably in the South. There are some roots worth keeping even while breaking away from others.
I kept collecting information and dreaming. I thought at one point I wouldn’t leave here. I fell in love with this land in a way I had not before. I wrote about it, dreamed about it, and felt the energy of the Ozarks pulsing in my veins. Home. Then love moved me a second time.
My best friend got a job 1300 miles away. I knew immediately I would go with her if I could. I would pack up what few things I really needed, my child and my dog and I would set off with her and her family anywhere she was going. Love moved me to this decision. Quickly we both realized it just wasn’t going to work. The logistics wouldn’t pan out. After getting over my sadness in realizing I couldn’t move with my friend I realized it was time to leave. Her moving away was the sign I had been waiting for. I applied for jobs across the country in a new career entirely, one I had dipped my toe in a few years ago and the same career path my friend is on. Now I am waiting to see where the Universe will carry me. I’ve done my footwork, acted with all my courage and left the outcome to the Gods, now I am ready to listen and move.
All my work right now has been on breaking through the passed down fears so I can show up and do the work needed to till this dry land and prepare for planting. Soon a job offer will come and I will be faced with telling my family and truly beginning the process of breaking away.
Breaking away is going to be hard. I feel in every action I’ve taken to try and manifest a new life, like I have been tilling hard ground that has never been broken open. At times I don’t even have the right tools; I dig in the hard, dry earth with my hands. I am determined to plant these seeds and grow a new life.