Prompts: “You Will Go Far, Restless Ginger”

Prompts is a joint creative exercise between my friend Matt W. and I. We will choose a different subject at the beginning of each week and post no more than 500 words on said topic on Fridays. This week’s prompt: write a letter to yourself from five years ago.

Ray From What Seems Like Forever Ago aka T-Ray Bay Bay,
One day you will escape Retirement City with its glut of pink slime-slinging fast food chains, shit-stained bayou and mutation-causing tap water, fort-like civic center that looks like the architect thought attack was imminent, and downtown intersection of “Altercation and Confrontation” which guarantees free entertainment and greasy pizza. You will work up the nerve to quit your job – a development many say will never happen – and pick a spot on the map far from your ancestral home of swamps and bayous and just go. You will dip your toes in the two oceans (brrrr!), make wonderful new friends, and revel in experiences that leave your head spinning a la David Byrne in the Talking Heads classic “Once In a Lifetime”. The restlessness you wrestle – that feeling your life is evaporating quicker than the wetlands with nothing to show for your troubles – might seem like a curse most days, hanging like an albatross around your neck, but it is your fuel, your ticket out.

Fantastic news, right? All this time you thought you were stuck in quicksand when, in reality, it was just south Louisiana sinking into the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s the rub: There’s no yellow brick road on the other side of Retirement City. Life produces hurricanes, literal and figurative, wherever you land and it is up to you to buy the extra gallons of water, batteries, and beer. Leaving your childhood hometown means you desired a change and had enough stones – or enough of the crazy – to make said change. It doesn’t mean the skies part and suddenly Heavenly sunlight bathes your face. (Spoiler alert: Where you’re going the skies exist in a perpetual sorrow and a neverending drizzle will follow your every step.) In many ways the struggle begins when you leave. That comfort zone you had in Retirement City? Family, close friends, mentors, etc.? Those people don’t pop out of the ground like Pikmin. (Pro tip: Sell your Nintendo!) Your relationships with them took years to cultivate and should be cherished, before and after you leave. It takes patience to grow new friendships, learn the rhythms of a new city, adjust to the weather, etc. What you are about to embark on is a learning experience. What you are about to embark on – the search for something greater – is what your life demands.

Truth is, there will be days when you question whether leaving home amounted to a success or failure. Don’t! Check the box under the win column the day you leave Retirement City. The only way you can truly fail is standing still as time passes. And it will pass. So, go ahead, get moving.

I leave you with this Hunter S. Thompson quote: “[W]ho is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

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