“You’re so brave!”
She looked at me admiringly.
“Thank you,” I replied.
I forced a polite smile.
“But I don’t know why following your dreams is considered brave,” I continued.
Now neither of us were smiling.
This exchange took place last month between a fellow hosteller and myself. It was early in the morning, as I was preparing to head off to work, and we were chatting in the quaint kitchen of the quaint hostel where we were staying on Maui. (Well, she was staying at the hostel; I was practically living there.)
“I mean, following your dreams is what you’re supposed to do, right?” I added, attempting to soften the blow of my deadpan disposition.
“You’re right,” she conceded. “But society tells us otherwise, and that’s what we believe we’re supposed to do.”
“True,” I conceded as well.
It’s been awhile since my last hair-raising, societal-rebellious adventure. My summer sojourn-turned-writing sabbatical in Hawai’i in 2014 was the last time that I can recall my hair literally standing on end from the sheer fright and delight of living on society’s edge. (Well, that’s if you don’t count my WTF journey to Japan last spring. Hai.)
At any rate, I forgot how absolutely necessary bravery is when one is following their dreams. But I was recently reminded when I peaked into my bank account earlier this month.
“Forty-six cents,” I sighed.
I stared at the numbers with a surprising level of nonchalance.
We’re back to this, are we? I thought.
I don’t really know who “we” is, but “this” is being broke–a circumstance that I was all too familiar with throughout my previous anti-society
- From quitting Daytona Beach, Florida, in 2010 to manifest my destiny in Austin, Texas;
- From quitting my first, real job in 2013 to follow my dream of writing;
- From quitting my part-time job in 2014 to follow my dream of going on a national book tour;
- From turning two summer retreats in Hawai’i into a two-month test run for my dream of living on Maui;
- From quitting the continental U.S. and, yet, another job in 2015 to give my dream of living on Maui, yet, another try.
Indeed, we are back to this.
I used to think that being broke meant “Stop,” “Do not pass go,” and definitely “Do not collect $200.” I thought it meant I had failed. I thought it meant that it was time for me to pack up my stuff, my pride and my dreams, and go back home.
I contemplated these thoughts as I rode the Maui County Bus, at the break of day, on the 4th day of the new year, while expelling constant streams of tears behind my sunglasses. The soundtrack of my tears, the Miami Mass Choir’s “It is For Me,” was playing in my headphones.
Why can’t I do it?! I screamed in my head. Why can’t I make this dream come true?! What’s wrong with me?!
I turned to face the window, seeking some sort of relief/veil from nearby passengers. The “relief” that I got, however, did little to relieve me. There, speeding beside me down the Hawai’i highway was a gleaming Florida license plate outfitted with a “Daytona Mitsubishi” frame staring back at me like the angel of the death.
Fuck, I thought, it’s time to go home?
Moments later, the bus stopped and a man wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “ARIZONA” got on. He looked like the Grim Reaper personified.
(FYI: The state of Arizona and I have ‘history,’ which was established during my
histrionic historic national book tour that I mentioned earlier. You can read about it here. Meanwhile, back on the bus…)
I don’t understand, I continued my conversation with myself. My dream for two years was to live on Maui. Now I’m living here, albeit barely, and I have to go home? What about the signs? What about all those Universal reassurances?
I shook my head in disbelief. Then I shook my head in disgust.
I scowled at the license plate. I think I may have even growled.
Go home for what? I seethed. Go home to what? My childhood bedroom? Fuck. That.
In an instant, I had transformed from pitifully sad to damn mad. I was a woman possessed–possessed with all the stubbornness, willfulness and bullishness that my Taurean self could muster. “Obstinate, headstrong girl,” indeed.
I am home, I vowed. I am where I am supposed to be.
And so it is.
Rest assure that as I am typing this post – now, on the 13th day of the new year – I have more than $0.46 to my name. I also have more belief in myself and more trust in Life. And I have more goddamned bravery than I could have ever thought possible.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Stephanie Rochelle Redd. All rights reserved.