Eleven years ago, Mike and I got married while we were still in college. During that time, we lived just north of Dayton, Ohio, near Yellow Springs.
I know most people say your first year of marriage is the hardest, but that just wasn’t our story. Those first two years were so special. We went to school during the day and worked in a coffee shop as baristas at night.
Mike graduated my senior year and found a construction job, restoring historic Yellow Springs’s homes to their former glory. We had absolutely no money. I mean, I know people always say they “have no money,” but seriously people. Living on love wasn’t so much a sentiment as it was just a fact.
And man, we were happy.
I graduated college and we panicked, so we moved back “home” (northeastern Ohio) until we could find something safe to do. Logically, it made sense to leave Yellow Springs. We didn’t have any career prospects, family near by, or now that college was over – a place to live.
Hindsight is funny.
Now we look back and we think about leaving Yellow Springs, a town we loved, and we wonder why we were so scared. Why do we let fear drive the bus when the bus is parked in such a perfect spot?
For our little birthday get away this weekend, we returned to Yellow Springs for the first time since we left. I don’t think our hearts could return any sooner. We had made a decision to leave, and that decision required a lot of work. We had to decide who we were, build relationships, form careers and lives, and “settle.”
But it was time to go back.
As we spent time in a place that feels more like us now than it did when we first arrived all those years ago, we were careful to reflect, not regret. I mean, regret just gets us no where. Reflection can help us evaluate and process and move forward, though, and that is what I wanted.
So we explored our beloved town with a sense of nostalgia but also with fresh eyes. We’ve grown and changed so much in the years since we’ve been gone, and this trip wasn’t just a walk down memory lane, it also shed fresh perspective on who we are and who we want to be.
We ate in our old favorite restaurants. We strolled through neighborhoods and picked out houses and pretended they were ours. We hiked in our old stomping grounds. We walked down old trails and climbed up new ones. We bumped into dear friends who we didn’t arrange to meet, but boy was that the highlight of our trip.
We talked about life then, we talked about life now. We planned and dreamed and thought about the future.
We talked about how people act as if you don’t have say over your future. As if you “have” to do these things, or you “have” to live this life that doesn’t feel like it belongs to you.
You might have blood coursing through your veins, but that doesn’t mean you’re living. We all have to choose to live. What’s more, we have to choose to live well, and live the life we were made for.
So we asked each other what we really want to do. Where do we really want to live. Who do we really want in our lives? What jobs are going to help us create a life, and what jobs are life-sucking?
Hunters S. Thompson said, “Beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living within that way of life.”
I like that. Look for a way of life.
So many of us are walking around barely living. We don’t laugh. We don’t make time for meaningful conversation. We don’t eat the food we love. (Just eat the dang carbs already, people. Geesh.) We don’t pursue our passions and we let our gifts atrophy, choosing instead to focus on things that are more “practical.”
Our getaway to Yellow Springs was perfectly timed. We had a wonderful trip, just the two of us: eating, talking, and dreaming. But we were also reminded that we do have a choice – we really do – to pursue the things we love.
Haha’s pizza. Heaven. (And I don’t know what came over me ordering that Stewart’s Soda. I’m not norrrrmally that kind of girl.)