“Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
I spent the forth in two extremes and it drew inner conflict on a huge white board in my head. You know, like football plays with different colored markers. Thankfully and unfortunately, I had a nine hour drive back home to think about it. Yet, I came to no conclusion. In fact, I might have ended up more twisted than before.
Wednesday night, I spent the night with my friend Michael in Minneapolis. He has this condo that is gorgeous with cement floors and a fireplace. Best of all, he has a veranda that over looks the Minneapolis skyline. It was beautiful and I thought to myself, “I could live this way.” I love going out in the cities and find that I’m more social and outgoing. I talk to everyone and meet so many interesting stories. I was sad when I left, as if I were leaving behind a dream that seems so far out of reach.
Thursday, I headed back to South Dakota and ran to jump on the float for the small town parade. Everyone (well, nearly everyone) in town comes out for the parade flying their American flags and dancing to the music pumping from our speakers. The float was an 80’s theme and I got my groove on creeping down Main Street. I also got a really wicked tan on my back from the netted shirt I was wearing. I drove a friend home after his car broke down and watched the small town fireworks shows from the Interstate, little bursts of colors as dusk. I spent the rest of the weekend being a small town girl. Drinking beer by a huge bonfire in the middle of no where. The sky was so black that you could see every star for miles. We sat on an old couch and talked until the sun came up over the horizon. I spent four hours at the lake with my friend Kari catching up while light sprinkles cooled our skin. No one cared about the rain because we knew it would pass. And it did. The sun came out and we pulled our chairs to the edge of the lake and cooled by the lapping waves. I sang karaoke in a country bar. I stirred another fire. As I drove away, I felt a longing for what I was leaving behind.
Enter conflict. Because I love the city. The rush of people from all walks of life. Open discussions with complete strangers about politics. Beautiful skylines. Interesting foods. Dressing up and looking good. But I love the country too. There’s a part of me that’s such a redneck. Fires that burn all night. Open skies blanketed in stars. Cheap beer. Hours at the lake.
And the truth is…I don’t know what I want because I love them both.
And…F. Scott nailed it on the head. A whole lot of people trying to be one. As I drove back from South Dakota, starting with tedious stretches of flat plains, save the occasional herd of red cows gnawing on the grass, to the rolling hills and curving roads lined by cliffs and trees in Wisconsin, I made the whiteboard in my head and tried to connect the plays. But the connections always broke because I don’t get my cake and to eat it too.
I envy people who know where they belong and what they want. Who have a clear path in front of them with directions laid out with plays connecting just right. Don’t get me wrong. I know that even they have obstacles, but I often wonder what it would be like to just know! Instead, I’ll jump from life to life and keep searching for the right combination of everything I love, even if it doesn’t exist. Dorothy Thompson and I have come to the same conclusion when she said, ““Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict.” Finding a way to have little parts of each existence within my life. Perhaps that’s what I do when I write. Perhaps I grab all the little parts of me and put them on paper so that I can live all the experiences I long for.