The very first thing I wrote for Triad City Beat was called “Why I’m Staying,” a bit of a flush-faced early love letter to Greensboro and slower living. I had arrived mere months before penning it in 2014 with a minivan full of what was left in my house after my family had packed up for California. In a way-too-metaphorical parallel, when I rolled into town after the 10-hour drive from Jersey, I promptly drove the wrong way up Friendly Avenue, then pulled onto a side street and struggled with an outdated map, trying to discern how to get home.
Almost two years later, I don’t think I have any greater clarity than I did then.
In that article justifying my choice to stick around in the Triad, I wrote something that I’ve mentally revisited quite a bit since: “When you’re 22 and uninhibited, every choice you make feels like it carries the weight of a hundred different possible stories.” Life still feels that way now, leaving this internship for I’m not sure what next.
The one thing that’s changed? I’m realizing that I can only live one story, and that selecting that story over the other 99 presenting themselves is the only way forward.
I came to TCB from a full-time job; at the time that I handed in my two weeks’ notice, I had no idea how I’d even pay rent. I simply knew in my gut that working with the three amigos would change my writing forever and I’d pull together the rest somehow (hat tip to cheap Southern rent and rice and beans). And it’s not accidental that this career move coincided with another move in my spiritual practice — stepping away from organized religion for better perspective on my faith. The new year was a departure in every sense.
The lessons since have been copious and surprising. Learning the weekly ritual of edits from Sensei, Jordo and Bossman, carving out my bad habits and replacing them with clarity and efficiency; being exposed to high levels of both praise and disdain from readers I’d never met, and learning to shake both off as exaggerations of reality; discovering the delight of telling an artist’s story well. There have been other peripheral surprises, notably, the inconvenience of unexpectedly falling in love, and navigating a social life outside of the security of a physical church building. The idiom “thrown for a loop” doesn’t do this season justice.
But it was a season I had to choose, and because of that, a semi-recent New York Times op-ed by Ruth Chang keeps coming to mind as I think of what’s to come. She wrote, “When we choose between options that are on a par, we make ourselves the authors of our own lives.” The wisdom holds up: In deciding between on-par options, like staying in or parting with a community, or leaving one job for another, the only variable that matters is my choice itself.
Another way to look at it could be embracing agency.
Or, better yet, jumping ship: Knowing now after this internship more than ever that I can assign my choices the power I want them to have. Life was only ever a series of leaps over impossible chasms. The beauty is that each one only makes me braver to jump again.