What we want, what we get

That’s a favourite song of mine, by Dave Barnes. It’s an oddity to me because it’s a breakup song, but the lyrics call to me in a way that not many songs do. (I highly recommend searching out the song and listening to it sometime) The gist of it is that what we want is not always what we get – in case you didn’t figure that out by the song title. I think we all have those things that we want, that we know we’ll never have, but which doesn’t stop us from wanting them regardless. Sometimes even selfishly.

When I moved back to San Diego in July 2008, I told myself that it was a temporary thing while I sorted out several life altering things that had turned my world upside down. My goal was always to get back to the place I loved. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is back in South Carolina. Well, here I am 7 years later, and I still haven’t made it back “home.” I’ve gotten to the point mentally where I question myself as to whether I love South Carolina because that is where I truly was at my happiest (barring a couple really bad months) or if I’m fondly remembering a place that my mind has altered to seem better than it really is, simply because I despise San Diego so much. And I do despise San Diego that much. The only things I love about this place are a few people who have made my life richer by being here.

Everything happens for a reason, and right now, I’m extremely torn. It looks like I will be given the opportunity to relocate back to my beloved Carolinas as soon as my knee is completely healed, and that is screwing me up mentally. I loved the Carolinas very deeply. Maybe because it was my first taste of true independence. I basically threw a dart at a map and ended up there by chance when I had the opportunity to escape San Diego back in 2004. I drove for three days with a two year old and two crying cats, arriving in the middle of a hurricane. Ivan, if you care. From the very first day, I was in love. I’d never seen a place so lush and green, with water everywhere and gorgeous old buildings.

The longer I stayed, the more I loved it. I met some incredible people and found my way to a job that I actually really enjoyed, and at the end of the day, I could dip my feet into a lake or stream and mentally escape. It wasn’t all wine and roses though. Towards the end, some things happened that caused me to move back to San Diego. I started regretting that decision almost as soon as I started driving west, and by the time I reached the California border, I had to pull over because I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see. I hated myself for moving back and swore that as soon as I could afford to, I’d head east again.

Then, the doubts crept in. Do I love the Carolinas or do I just despise San Diego and anywhere else would be better? I flew back to Charlotte for my birthday the following February, and said that the only gift I wanted was to see snow. It almost never snows in the Piedmont, so I knew it was a long shot, but minutes after I collected my rental car and started driving to my friend’s house where I would be staying, the flurries started. It felt like the Carolinas were welcoming me back with open arms and begging me to return. Getting on the plane to return to California hurt even worse than driving away. I told myself then that I couldn’t return unless I was returning for good. It was like running into an old love from whom you parted amicably. Best not to spend too much time or mental energy chasing down all the what ifs. And there are a lot of what ifs.

So, what’s next for me? If everything falls into place, do I return to my true love knowing that time changes things and that the enchantment may no longer be there? Heraclitus once said “You cannot step twice into the same river” and that is true. By your second step, both you and the river have changed. I just don’t know how the changes I’ve undergone over the past seven years will affect my love of a place that once filled me with happiness. Perhaps I should consider a new place to call home, so I’d be out of my hated San Diego, and can keep my fond memories of the Carolinas as fond memories. Maybe I should stay in San Diego and remember that the people I love here outweigh the hatred I have for the city. I’m lost. I’m confused. I’m even a little bit scared. This is something I’ve wanted so badly for so long that I no longer know if I actually want it or if the wanting of it is just a mental twist. Sometimes, having mental illness really sucks. I can’t trust my brain to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. A niggling thought in the back of my mind is yelling to GO FOR IT! Even if it’s no longer the perfect oasis that I remember, I still have a support system there, and it would be better than living somewhere I hate.

A story of Munchie

When I was 19 years old, I was dating a guy named David who lived in North Park. There was a pet store in the shopping center by his house, and I went in one day to see the kittens. There were kittens in two cages; little kittens that were between six and eight weeks old, and another cage of kittens that were over 4 months old. I was playing with a cute little brown tabby in the “older kitten” cage when the clerk asked me, “Do you want to take him?” I said that I was just playing and that I wasn’t really looking for a cat. She said that the three kittens that were in the older kitten cage were going to be sent back to the breeder and euthanized or used as breeders if they didn’t get sold, so if I wanted the kitten that I was playing with, I could just take him, because she’d rather write him off as a loss than have him put down or have to live in a breeding facility. She came open and opened the cage and handed him to me and said, “If you want him, just go, and give him a good life.” So I took him.

I brought him home to mom’s house and explained what happened and asked if we could keep him (as every child has done to their parent(s) at one time or another). I told her what the pet store lady had said to me about him being euthanized or forced to breed. She agreed that we’d keep him. Since I wasn’t planning on getting a cat, I didn’t have any cat stuff for him, he just came home with a paper collar that said “Kitten #49” on it. So, his name ended up being Mr Joe Montana Cat, less formally as either Montana or Munchie. I don’t remember how it morphed to Munchie, but I think it probably had to do with his eating habits. He liked to eat, and ended up as a healthy 19 pounder at the height of his life.

I ended up moving out and moving on, and Munchie stayed with mom. He had a calm and sweet disposition and loved to cuddle with his buddy Mumbles (whom I had also brought home as a stray, a year or so later). He and Mumbles were so close as to be considered brothers; they were inseparable until Mumbles came down with kidney disease and eventually had to be put down in 2010. Munchie mourned the loss of his brother and never quite got over it. In the past couple years,  he’s been fighting his own health battles, and today we’re taking him to be put down. He’s tired of fighting and it’s time to let go.

I like to think that I provided him with the good life that the pet store woman asked of me. He had a home, a brother, a sister, a caretaker who loved him dearly, plenty of food and water, and lots of love. He was a good cat.