When I left for college, I was a small town girl. All of my memories were rooted in the same community, where I knew someone around every corner and always had family nearby. The first few weeks away were rough. I was miserably homesick and the 2 1/2 hours between school and home felt so far. Then I was walking across campus on a beautiful September day and I felt this bubble of contented happiness well up deep inside. At that moment, I knew I had made the right choice and was where I needed to be.
I've felt that bubble again over the years. Shortly after moving to D.C. and meeting Alex, it came as I was walking down the sidewalk to shop at Eastern Market. A year or two in to law school, watching the lights come on in my neighborhood on a cold Fall evening. Walking the dog around my apartment complex back here in Florida. Its my touchstone, that feeling, my signal that I'm making the right choices in my life. That the world is simply right. Not an every day thing, but a little message from myself that I hear in moments of peace.
Last week I realized I haven't felt that bubble in quite a while. Instead, I've been feeling a nagging disquiet. Nothing is wrong, but I wasn't entirely sure it was right either. Too often irritable voices have snapped out at one another, leaving bruised feelings that never quite have a chance to completely heal. Too many work concerns have followed us home, intruding and casting a shadow. Life has felt too full, too uncertain - too much. My attempts at something different have provided only momentary relief, followed by frustration when the simple task of choosing dinner leaves us in our separate corners. I've started to think again about what I would do if I left my job, what the after might be if this job I have loved is becoming a weight I can't bear. To reconsider choices and wonder if its time to adjust our plans, but with no idea what the alternative might be.
And then we spent this weekend at the beach, just the two of us away from everyone. It wasn't the clean escape I had hoped; those irritable voices managed to find us there. But, it was a chance to find our rhythm again. Lying together watching an afternoon storm rage on the ocean, holding hands as we walked on a quiet beach at night, listening to live music in a smoky bar - none of it planned but simply unfolding. The next morning I took my coffee out on the beach and walked by myself there in the quiet, alone with nature. And in that moment of peace, my touchstone welled within me. All is well.
Its reassuring, this knowledge that my disquiet is superficial. That what resides deep within is happiness. I can't be done looking for the shift that will put things in place; I know that. Superficial disquiet can become something deeper if I don't respond to the message being sent. But, it helps to know I'm playing with the right pieces.