Changes-Are Afoot?

I wish this were true.  I have been contemplating changes for some time now; but I can’t seem to settle on which direction to take. Return to school for a Masters or re-open another cafe, I can’t land on either one.

If I return to school what degree should I take: English, Creative Writing, History, Law, Business?  I am interested in them all.

If I go for cafe where should I open it: in my hometown, or Portland, or somewhere else?  I mean if location is undecided, why not throw all options out there?

Part of my decision is affected by a sense of duty to my father.  I have not always suffered this feeling, in fact I have usually done what made me free.  I keep people at arms length; this makes leaving easier.  I suffer no entanglements.

Of course my greatest regret is walking away from my son.  The courts called it abandonment, while that was not my intent; that is what it was.  And it still stings.

I believe that moving back to Quincy, IL is the World’s or the Universe’s way of giving me a chance not only to mend fences with my father-our relationship has been rocky-but an opportunity to rectify that decision to walk.

The chance is there to make a better decision.  To prove I am different, more mature, I feel I must stay.  Yet I wake up almost every day looking for a way to escape.

It is not the relationship I look to escape-our relationship has never been better.  It is the town and the people, I seek freedom from.

A few weeks ago, my father and I were talking over morning coffee.  I often walk over to his house to check in and chat about life, and work.  Part of the conversation had to do with what I would do next.  He wanted to know if I planned to open another restaurant.

“I don’t know, Dad.  I am scared that I don’t have it in me.  I am scared I will have another Shanghai experience”.

“What is a Shanghai experience?”

I told him. “When I was in China, towards the end of my second year, I went up to Shanghai to look for a job.  There was a big job fair at the Shanghai Library, for foreign workers.  Now I suspected it would all be teaching jobs, but I went hoping there would be one company looking for a foreigner to do a non-teaching job.”

By now my second cup of coffee is finished brewing, so I retrieve it.

Continuing, “When I get to the library it is all schools.  I am dressed in slacks and a freshly pressed button down.  My shoes are polished; and my face is shaved.  I am ready to impress.  And I do.  Many of the schools’ representatives question me at length.  I pick up applications left and right.  I troll the room twice, just to make sure I haven’t overlooked a company which is not a school or private tutor business.  There are none. ”

Dad remains quiet.  My mom would be asking all kinds of questions.  And to every one of them I would answer “I am getting to that.  Wait a minute.”  Of course she would wait about 30 seconds and invariably I would get sidetracked and ramble on some tangent for 5 or 10 minutes.

“So I sit down at a table, with all my applications.  I have my resume, head shots, references, passport and pens.  As I look at the collection of papers in front of me, I begin to think of all the energy, perseverance, and charm I need to complete the process.  I delve deep inside to gather all I need and nothing.  I almost cry.  In a daze I put all my belongings into my bag.  Leaving the applications there, I numbly leave the room and the building.  I am scared to think of opening another restaurant.  I am afraid there is nothing inside if I look.  So I am not even thinking about it.  Instead I am thinking of getting a Masters Degree.”

Dad was supportive of the idea.  He has been supportive of me since I moved back.  It has been a real change for him.  I appreciate the support and the change.

If he hadn’t changed, and still tried to tell me how to be and what to do in life; it would be easy to leave.  I could say I tried and made the effort.  Perhaps I haven’t changed.  Despite all my travels and all my readings, and efforts to improve and become a different person, a better person, I am not that different than the young man who left Quincy 20 years ago.

My mother says that we should bloom where we are planted.  And I have worked hard to be planted some where. anywhere but Quincy.  Yet here I am.  Here I am fighting being planted in this spot.  I work hard to see every deficiency this patch of ground contains.  I long for other ground.  Every spot seems preferable.  Even though I know this to be false.  For I have found spots which contained many deficiencies.

I try to change my mindset, but I find I can not for more than a day or two.  Part of my failure to change lies in the uncertainty of where I want to go in life.  I can’t choose at this time.  My focus comes back to leaving, and the certainty that I will be better able to bloom, if only I where planted elsewhere.

At least I know what I have to change-my perspective.  I just don’t know how to do it.  For when I wake up and see where I am, I can’t block out the deficiencies.

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