Retreat and Resolve

November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

While I may make decisions quickly, I do not take them lightly.

My cousin suggested that I move back to Alabama, to get serious about treatment and ensure my success by surrounding myself with people who love me. In true Alexa response, I shut it down immediately. But I’m a percolator, and he’s learned that, so not an hour later, I was opening up to the idea. Now that I’ve slept on it, I feel like it’s my best option for really getting better.

There’s definitely a pro/con list with the biggest con being that it’s Birmingham, Alabama. It’s a small town and has a small town mentality for the most part. People do the same thing every day, every week, every year. The locals always talk about leaving but never do. No big shows or major exhibitions go through there. Birmingham doesn’t even have an H&M or Ikea.

But my family is there. My closest friends are there. The cost of living is incredibly cheap, the neighborhoods are historic, and there are multiple fantastic parks just a short drive away. And I could be happy there, at least for a little while.

If I’m serious about wanting to help people, about wanting to help improve communities and make people’s lives better, doesn’t Alabama top that list? People are suffering in Birmingham. Low-income communities abound, the educational system is a train-wreck, childhood obesity is through the roof. Birmingham, with its bloody history of struggle, deserves help, deserves happiness. What better place for me to start my new career?

Finding a salaried job won’t be easy. Birmingham is small and poor, with most non-profits in a hiring freeze. I’ve got a running list of companies to keep checking in with and I’ve got some people I can call on to ask around for me, to see if anyone is looking to hire an Art History nerd with only museum experience. I’ve got six months to find something, and if all else fails, I can go for AmeriCorps in the ‘ham, though Dad thinks I can do better than that. We’ll see. There’s plenty of time.

I’m feeling anxious about it, even though my gut tells me this is the right thing to do. I hate going backwards. I hate returning to Alabama. Last year I returned because I’d given up on everything else. Quit my job, quit grad school, left Alec. Now I’m returning again because I’ve given up on my museum career and because I’m a suicide risk. How do you explain that to people? “I moved back because I’m undergoing treatment for depression.”

I’m moving back because I’m weak. I’m moving back because I’m afraid to seek help on my own. I’m moving back because I’m afraid that this is the only time in my life that I’ll feel happiness, because my friends and family are all in one place.

I have a slight soft spot for Birmingham, I can admit. The weather is great. It’s easy to get around. The neighborhoods are interesting and there is a lot of great food. The parks are pretty and generally well-maintained. The people are nice for the most part. Birmingham is familiar and nostalgic for me. I can admit that. I’ve got a lot of warm fuzzies from my last year there, where I had an active social life and didn’t live isolated in the country. I could have a life there, a good life, for a little while. And if I could help the community, dammit, I want to.

I won’t stay. I won’t spend more than a few years there. But if I can enjoy my friends, my family, my favorite spots, while they’re all in one place, I’d like to. Where better to commit to treatment, to get better, to learn how to let myself be happy?

Maybe this will work out.

I have hope.


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