The House That Built Me

You leave home you move on and you do the best you can

I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am

– Miranda Lambert


I am at that age now.

You know; that age.

The time in your life when:

  • A dollar starts to mean something
  • Opening a savings account is exciting
  • The word “interest” actually sucks.

I am at that point in life where everyone around you is either going 100 miles per hour or they are pulled over on the side of the road. The point where you must make a decision…

a.   Keep up with the flow of traffic.

– or –

b.   Stop to pee.

But I am torn.

When I graduated college I had this real vivid moment of realization. I do not remember what day of the week it was or exactly when it hit me, but amidst counting class credits and packing boxes the largeness of life became very apparent to me.

When you graduate high school you are young. Too young to realize you are not old. You have got this bad ass since of accomplishment – of entitlement. Seriously, we have all been around them. Those shithead high school seniors who think they have life figured out, or better yet, cheated. The silly little girls who are reckless with their hearts and the douche bag boys who are reckless with their bodies. We watch most of them shoot the world the middle finger… all the while refusing to admit their fear.

Fast forward four-ish years – college graduation.

Now, this graduation means something. This graduation humbles you. It is like someone rips the blindfold off and you begin to realize just how much you matter to the world. You are finally mature enough to admit… you’re scared.

We turn 18 and gloat about how old we are. We turn 22 and realize just how young we are.

For my entire life I have done exactly what I was supposed to do… and it has paid off. I have everything I could ever want or need. I wake up every day and have a job to go to. I drive home every afternoon to the best family anyone could hope for. Every evening, I kiss my Sonny “night-night” and crawl under the covers of the bed I have spent my whole life dreaming in.

So, why do I still feel so overwhelmed?

Every few weeks I catch myself feeling claustrophobic. A sense of urgency overwhelms me and I spend days searching my life. I am looking for a bill left unpaid, an appointment missed, or a chore overlooked. Sometimes, it takes only a few days for me to realize nothing is out of place. But sometimes, that feeling stays with me for weeks.

About six months ago I realized what it was: I am no longer boxed in by dead ends – I am trapped by a sea of choices.

For Christmas Mace gave me my favorite gift of the year.

She is 15 so she has to be a little more creative than the rest of us when it comes to gift giving. This is what she came up with for me:

A few weeks before Christmas, I had dinner with Momma, Bubba, and Mace. Over chips and queso we found the conversation had turned into a “What should Miss Clariss do when she grows up?” debate.

Everyone had some sort of idea. We talked about jobs, careers, furniture, and finances. Eventually, the conversation turned to moving – To move or not to move? Apartment living or house hunting? Here, there, or where? And anytime we bring up moving, the look on Mace’s face would break the hardest of hearts.

She asked me, “How could you move?” I simply replied, “Mace, all I got is a hound dog and some shoes.”

And we moved on. The topic changed to Christmas lists and gift ideas. Our dinner ended and we went home.

Some time after that night at dinner, unbeknownst to me, Mace and Momma snuck into my room and hijacked some of my precious Steve Madden’s and Jessica Simpson’s. They coaxed Sonny into sitting still for a few moments as they snapped pictures of him in front of the backdrop of shoes and shoeboxes. Once the photo session was complete, the two of them picked the best picture out of the bunch, framed it, and wrote my quote around the mat of the frame: “All I got is a hound dog and some shoes.”

I teared up on Christmas morning.

What my kid sister may be too young to understand is how inspirational that picture frame has become. I truly do have just a hound dog and shoes to worry about right now.

I can pack up my Acura, snatch up my hound dog, and go anywhere I want. We can live anywhere we choose, I can find some sort of work anywhere my heart desires, and we could have our own life together.

But where?

Where do I want us to be? What do I want to be doing? How do I get there? When I figure it all out, will we be happy? I mean sure, Sonny will be happy anywhere they have treats and stuffed animals to obliterate… but will I? How do you know when to follow your heart or let your head talk you out of it?

I have a very nice life here, but is nice the kind of life I can be happy with? And when I say “here” I mean here in this small town, at this Big Box company, and near my family and friends. Will moving across a bridge or switching job titles stop these sinking spells or will it take something much more than that?

I struggle with these types of questions every day. I waste day after day not making up my mind fearing that the choices I make right now will compromise my happiness years down the road. But isn’t that ass-backwards? Does it really make sense that I am consciously hindering today’s happiness for a future happiness that is not promised?

We spend our whole lives making choices today in hopes to better our tomorrows… tomorrows that are not even guaranteed. Of course, some things are worth the risk but is happiness truly something we can proactively plan for? Happiness is reactive, right? We don’t have a bad day because we wake up saying to ourselves, “I hope today sucks!” We have bad days because shit happens and our minds are wired to naturally react negatively to shit.

Anyhow, nothing we do right now secures the results we are hoping to create for later. You have to be willing to readjust if something doesn’t work.

We are not confined to any sort of life. All that confines us is our willingness to change the pieces that do not make us happy.

So, circling back, I must figure out what I believe will make me happy right now.

And if it doesn’t… well, Sonny and I will just have to figure out where to go from there.


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