The sun sets while we’re talking.
My cheek glows red from holding the phone against my shoulder. As we chat, I make macaroni and cheese–organic, because then it’s healthy–and I eat it on couch as her voice singsongs around me, even though my apartment is empty and it’s dark outside.
We talk about my inbox, about being brave, about frustration and joy, and we lay down if-onlys and what-abouts on the phone lines that stretch between us. They’re loud enough to cross the state lines that insist we’re in different places. We say, in just these words, “I didn’t realize it would be hard.”
I, for one, am surprised at what it’s like. For so long, post-college life, life away from the city and people I’d fallen for, was just some hazy imagination game, ideas spun from the dream of having oodles of fun in all the free time I’d have since I wouldn’t have homework. I was right about one thing: There is definitely–thankfully–a noticeable lack of homework.
But I’ve never felt so young, so green, so the opposite of Brave. I feel likeI haven’t a clue what I’m doing, and sooner or later, someone’s going to find out. I’m finding, though, that most everyone has walked this road. I’m finding so many people are still on it, some miles ahead and some by me, nodding their heads and shrugging their shoulders and giving me smiles across a coffee shop table.
“Yes,” they say, “You understand. Me too.” I know this much to be true: It was someone who felt like this who created the phrase “fake it till you make it” so he could get out of bed and put on his brave boots one morning.
Perhaps the thing all this is teaching me is that we are always being taught; the thing I’m learning is that there’s so much to learn. Here, as I get to know this city and her people, I am finding out so much about myself. Here, I wake up and put on my brave boots each morning. I prepare for a day of mostly unknowns, of taking all of the unfamiliar in my hands and holding it gently until it becomes the comfortable. It’s a process.
I’m learning that we are all resilient. I’m learning that life happens and that it takes courage, that one does not float effortlessly through the world and change it. Rather, she takes steps like those of high-heeled feet on a cobblestones path: sure, but wobbly. Confident, but a little off balance. I’m learning it’s the step-taking that’s important, the tiny steps and the leaps, the ones that knock you amiss and the ones that scrape your knees. I’m learning that if you want to “make dreams come true,” you must get into the making business, which is hard and gruesome sometimes. It’s a lot of early mornings and sweaty hands, and yet, I’m finding it’s worth it.
The sun sets while we talk. I tell my best friend, who’s a state over, all about what I’m learning. When I hang up, it’s all dark in my apartment, for I forgot to turn on the lights when the night crept in, and I lie there in the dark, feeling ready and unready all at the same time, and for what, I’m not sure.
Here’s what I know: When my alarm goes off the next morning, I’ll talk myself into getting out of bed. I’ll curl my hair and slip on high heels, cross the city in a throng of traffic, and take nine deep breaths before I step out of my car. Then I’ll let my feet carry me down a cobblestone path, shaky and proud and learning yet.