It began as a convenience store – a Minit Mart or 7-Eleven maybe… I forget, but you know the building I’m talking about. For several years they were successful selling gas, cigarettes and Big Swigs before they moved closer to the interstate and abandoned this structure. After a while, a talented burger-flipper thought he could turn the empty building into a lucrative greasy spoon, but he was wrong. The concrete blocks were soon vacant again. More time passed and an up-and-coming chiropractor painted the exterior a dark shade of gray (“Rain Dance” to be specific), put a couple of topiaries by the front entrance, and opened up her practice. Eventually, however, she upgraded, leaving the building abandoned once more. For exactly 73 days, a local dude transformed it into a pool hall. A few months after the pool hall endeavor, the left side opened as a Tanning Salon, while the right side converted to the Second Church of Holiness Prayer Center. Kind of a “Body & Soul” joint venture, you might say. Eventually a hippie chick came along, painted aliens and spaceships on the ceiling-to-ground window and attempted a consignment store she called “Clothes Encounters of the Second-Hand Kind”, which again turned out to be a mistake, as almost all thrift stores are. It seems like, one summer, the place might have even been a burrito joint. Who can remember, really? The point is, in-between each ending and the subsequent beginning, the building sat empty and abandoned, looking increasingly world-weary, waiting to either collapse or find its niche.
At this point in the blog, my brain has wandered into some sort of middle-aged commencement speech, and I am thinking how much this Building of Perpetual Beginnings and Endings represents my life, each business undertaking a different phase of life – some successful, some not so much. Always doing my part to be accommodating, generous, compliant. Always doing my part to suit the needs of whatever came next. Each in-between phase leaving me hollow and lonely, looking for occupation and purpose. Waiting for things to happen. Hoping for things to work out. Waiting. Hoping. Waiting and hoping.
Wait a minute….WHAT???
DID I JUST COMPARE MYSELF TO A CONCRETE BLOCK BUILDING???? Well…that DOES appear to be the metaphor I was going for 23 minutes ago, but now there’s this alarm going off inside my head. And not one of those twinkle-ding-dong alarms that awakens you gently to a dewy sunrise. This is one of those “TAKE COVER, SHE’S GONNA BLOW!” Emergency Alert System Warnings. Exactly when did this disaster occur??? How did I get here??? When did I decide to allow people to walk all over me, take from me and not give in return, use me as a pawn in their self-esteem games? When did I become the passive voice in my own story?
Darn it, I am SO not as mundane or prosaic as a lifeless rectangle of concrete blocks. (A colorful Duplo castle, possibly. A mosaic tile window, maybe.) A gray concrete block convenience store? Not on your life.
At least, not anymore.
At some point I started settling for less than “me”. Somewhere along the line I allowed generous, helpful, patient and funny to morph into subservient, conforming, peacekeeping and sarcastic. I became someone who waits and wishes instead of someone who imagines and creates. I allowed myself to become a martyr and a victim. I can’t even put my finger on when this spiral started, but I can certainly pinpoint exactly when I knew I couldn’t survive in Kansas anymore. And while the ending of “what was” has been devastating, and this new beginning is more than a little terrifying (think “Twister” where Helen Hunt watches her life torn apart by an F4), the reality is there is a fresh start emerging from the aftermath, and – with a great sigh of relief – it is all mine.
I’m no longer passively wishing and hoping for change…the storms of the last few years have left the concrete building in ruins, and what few gray blocks were left standing I kicked over into the pile of rubble with my own two feet. This next adventure is my own. I don’t know how long it will last, but I hope the whole time.
or rather … The Beginning