Knowing and Not Knowing

11 Apr

The plane lifted off, and I looked up from my book to peer out the window.

Behind me sat two frat-like guys, part of a group of ten or so who had boarded en masse, talking big talk about a trip to Canada for something-or-other. I had been doing my best to ignore them since they sat down, but my efforts had been largely in vain.

Anyway, as I’m looking out the window, taking in the hills and trees and general awesomeness that is the Kentucky countryside, the two guys fell silent. I only sort of noticed this action until the guy on the aisle seat spoke.

“It’s so fucking pretty here, dude.”

A few seconds passed in silence, before the same guy spoke again. “We gotta get some hot chicks for the group.”
With that, it was over. It was a brief moment. Innocuous, really. But damned if that awful person didn’t capture everything I was thinking in that moment.

See, I was doing my best to read my book, listen to my iPod, stridently ignore the guys behind me. But it was all a cover, trying to keep me from thinking about my final destination. This particular flight was taking me to a job interview in Duncan, Oklahoma, a place that I figured (and later confirmed) was not “so fucking pretty here, dude.”

As I write this, I’m lying on my niece’s bunk bed, as my bed and couch have both been loaded up into a U-Haul in preparation for tomorrow’s drive to, yes, Duncan, Oklahoma. You likely know this information, but lying on a tiny bunk bed makes me feel required to repeat it.

Earlier tonight, I sipped a glass of bourbon at a local bar with a good friend, wondering aloud whether I was making the right decision. I still don’t know.

On the one hand, I really need to get back onto a career path, not a “Damn, he’s a good 47-year-old waiter” path. Being the managing editor of a daily paper? That’s definitely a career path.

On the other hand, I lived in Kansas for a year, on basically this same career path, and hated it so much that I left that path and opted for the “Damn, he’s a good 47-year-old waiter” path.

I don’t know. Any of it. This could be the best thing I ever did. This could be another choice that has me sitting sad and naked on my couch at 3 in the afternoon with a bottle of bourbon in my hand (yep, did that once in Kansas). I don’t know any of it.

What I do know is that I’m moving to Oklahoma tomorrow. It’s a long drive, it’s a flat land, it’s a town with little beyond a Wal-Mart. But it’s my new home, and I’m going to do everything I can to make the best of it, even as I am nearly shaking with nerves.

Intellectually, I know it’ll be fine. I’m good at this journalism stuff, I’m a good leader, and I’m 97.6% sure DirecTV gets service down there. I don’t have anything to worry about.

And yet.

I don’t love Kentucky. Not really. My family’s here, some of my friends are still around, and yes, it’s so fucking pretty, but I’ve spent my entire life wanting to be somewhere else. If 11-year-old me found out that 28-year-old me was waiting tables until agreeing to move to Nowhere, Oklahoma, 11-year-old me would have just aneurysmed then and there. Then again, if 11-year-old me found out I was doing anything other than playing baseball, writing books and having kids, he would have been rather peeved with his future self. So what? Kids don’t know anything.

The point is, I didn’t, don’t and (likely) won’t want to live my life in Kentucky. But faced with the actual imminent departure, I’m not at all positive I’m doing the right thing.

Oklahoma might suck. Oklahoma might be awesome. Oklahoma might be wholly average, the Baby Bear’s bed in the Goldilocks story of my life. I might retire there, I might move on to the New York Times, I might be back serving at Josie’s in July. Who the hell knows?

If I’m not looking forward to the move, exactly, I am at least looking forward to being done with the move. It’s inevitable now. It’s happening. My fear is worthless, my nerves are doing nothing but making this bunk bed feel even smaller than it is. I need to just get there, get started, and get my head on straight. Even writing this down has helped, as it’s made me think about life down there in the concrete, not just the abstract, “but I’ll be living in Oklahoma” sense. I need that, just like I needed that shot of bourbon earlier tonight.

The truth is, I don’t have a fucking clue what’s going to happen. Six months ago, I would have scoffed at this idea. Six months from now, I might scoff at my scoffing. I don’t know much of anything.

I do know this, though. I know that Oklahoma has many things to offer, but beautiful scenery is not one of them. When my plane lifted off for my return flight home, I glanced out the window. I heard no annoying people spout random words of wisdom. I went back to reading my book much more quickly than I did on the flight out. So I do know that Oklahoma, while it may be the best place I ever go, is not the beautiful place I’m leaving.

And I know that I’ll miss Kentucky. For all its failings, this little basketball-and-horses state has grown on me, and saying goodbye (again) is harder than I ever thought it would be. Yeah, it’s where my family is. It’s where my friends are. It’s what I know.

And it’s so fucking pretty here, dude.

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