Holy crap, dude. Its December! Erm, what happened to the twelve months in between? Truth be told, its been a largely painfully long-drawn year and yet, at the same time here I am today feeling like time has just slipped through my fingers, when I wasn’t looking. So much has happened. My life as I know it has turned upside down on its head since where I was last year at about this time.
Although most of my real struggle with making some amendment in life began in early 2012, I think the seeds of change began to sprout and dig their way deeper into my brain in November last year. When I had a series of difficult weeks, no time for myself, endless dead-ends throwing a series of question marks my way. It feels like it was not so long ago when I was tossing up the various possibilities of which way my life could go, when all I really was doing was delaying the inevitable. The obvious truth that was staring in my face all along. All because I was just plain afraid. As much as the answer to all the uncertainty and the trouble was obvious, the overwhelming fear to pick up and move on was just too hard.
Let’s face it, no matter how much we like to think of ourselves as fearless, fiercely independent and liberated, there are some decisions that are just close to impossible. So when I was gripped by fear, afraid to turn my back on something that had been a part of my life for more than half a decade, I chose to weigh the pros and cons over and over, I tried to rationalise, I spoke to everyone I thought could guide me along. But really, the answer was with me, the whole time.
Of course all the dilly-dallying and fence-sitting in the world couldn’t stop the real reality check that came in the form of one of the most horrid days of the last couple of years, which reduced me to tears. It was one of many days to come in the next few months, as I later came to realise.Because they weren’t tears of sadness. Those go away in time. I was dealing with tears of anger, bitterness, frustration and fear. And those don’t go away unless you make them. Unless you deal with the cause of it all. Events of that day are still crystal clear in my mind. The biting remarks, the scathing looks, the insurmountable pressure — all come rushing back to mind if I pause to think. Sometimes, even today, when I meet people involved, I wonder how I can keep a straight face and exchange pleasantries, because really that day marked the beginning of a downward spiral that I could really have done without. It also marked the day that would make me start actively thinking about the decision.
All the YOLO spiel sounded so much cooler on the internet, and in real life, I couldn’t get myself to jump into the life that I knew awaited me. I would turn all the latent frustration into tangential, motivational (mostly for myself) posts and feel mildly better, like I was taking charge of my life in some part. I would read silly Thought Catalogue lists that are designed to make you go no wayyyyy, man, that is SO me, and feel momentarily fired up, but chicken out from taking the plunge.
I think in life, the beginning and end points are pre-determined, but the path that we choose to move towards the end is what is in our hands. The husband, for example has always chosen the straight and narrow. His life follows a largely uniform pattern, a level pace. Every 3-4 years he might take a decision that shakes things up and shocks the bejeezus out of people around him, but for the most part he settles in, he works hard, he welcomes whatever comes his way and takes it in his stride. He continues along that path he once chose. Me? I’m the diametric opposite of that. It seems I like to throw myself in the face of uncertainty, I seek out the path with the most twists and turns, bends and blind corners. I revel in the agony of decision making, even when I know I’m not very good at it. Unless I am driven by some crazy hormones or a gut feeling and a deep hunch, every important decision that comes my way is dealt with over-thinking and under-reacting.
If someone had stopped me back then and talked to me about this simple truth, perhaps I would have calmed down, braved the shit a little better. Taken it in my stride and moved on, knowing that somewhere in the near future I would take that decision. That I would eventually choose a happier life, over a comfortable life. That I would do what my heart tells me, rather than what my mind is messing around and making me do. But no, I had no idea what was to come. To say it was a time of chaos and confusion would be an understatement, and the truth is nobody knows the extent to which I was troubled over it, except me. Maybe if someone did, they would tell me that sooner than later, it would all work out. Then I would have spared myself the nosedive that I instinctively took, for the worse, rubbing my nose in the dirt and not looking up to see the light for weeks. I could have called the crap, crap. And moved on.
Instead, I immersed myself in nostalgia and beer and an impromptu trip back home. And this year too, I will be doing the same. Its funny how the more I try and keep from going back to Bangalore, the more situations seem to arise, that force me to make that annual trip. So I’m going back to Bangalore this month. For close to ten whole days, this time around. And as usual I have mixed feelings. Of dying to go to the original (and one and only) home — to dive into the comforts of home, to throw myself into my parents arms and be loved and cared for in the flesh, to sleep in my bed, to eat home cooked meals made by my adorable and selfless cook — and of having to divide my time between my own home and the husbands home. Try as I may, to stay calm and be myself, this is a tussle that always gets me knotted up. Because it means temporarily shedding my personality and donning the daughter-in-law avatar, a balancing act that is getting harder to do with every passing year. The longer I have been away from home the farther I feel I move from the person I was when we lived with my in laws, and closer to the real me. So every trip back feels like I have to turn back time and go into this weird alter ego, that is so unlike anything I am used to anymore.
Most of all, between wanting to spend as much time as I can with my folks, playing customary DIL, eating in all my favourite restaurants, meeting select few friends and doing the token shopping I do when in a big city, I hate the battle with traffic, auto drivers, the uncouth people on the streets, finding myself mindlessly meandering through a mall (because where else can one just hang out with a friend in Bangalore anymore?!), and most of all feeling like time has passed me by just trying to do it all, and not doing anything well enough.So maybe I should focus on the 16 degree mornings, the jacaranda blooms, the filter coffee and dosa breakfasts, the tel malish and other related comforts of going home, and let the rest take its course.
Same story. Every time. It feels like just yesterday I was thinking the same thoughts. Feeling the same things. Except last time I had the added worry of coming back from a blissful few days in Bangalore, and waking up to a Monday morning of going to a job that didn’t cut it, a home I didn’t want to spend too much time in and a life that was shaky and unpredictable, to say the least.
So yes, there is going to be a trip back home, just like there was last year. But this time around, the coming back home will be nothing like it was last year. My life as I know it has turned upside down on its head since where I was this time, last year. And for that, I could not be thankful enough.