Thursday, April 19, 2007

On Monday, I start the job I've been trying to get for a year and a half. Okay, it's not exactly the job I was trying to get, but it's close enough. I'm beginning at the very bottom-most rung of the IT department of the most desirable employer in Memphis, a highly respectable nonprofit organization that does compelling work and does it extremely well. It's a good working environment, and it's populated by more intelligent, educated, diverse people than perhaps any other place in the city. And while I'm starting at the bottom, it's clear that it wouldn't take long -- likely no more than a matter of months -- for me to move up, and from there I could go as high as I wanted.

The irony is killing me.

It's ironic, you see, because I've gotten this job after so much trying, at exactly the point when I've decided to move to a new city. Now that I've given up on what I wanted and found something new to want, I've gotten what I wanted before. I mean, it's fucking typical. Not that it's a bad thing -- getting this job now makes it easier to make the move, and hopefully having it on my resume will be a help in the new city. It's not the line of work I would choose if I could have any job at all, but it's not bad, it's in demand everywhere, and it could eventually support me in a modestly comfortable way. There are plenty of worse things I could end up doing. Even if I don't take the ultimate opportunity this job represents, it's good to have it for now. It's just... it's weird, is all. It creates a lot of tension that I wasn't expecting to feel.

The move I'm planning isn't the most obvious one. I've never been to this new city before, and at the moment it doesn't much look like I'll be going before I actually make the move. I know only a couple of people there, and even those relationships are something of an unknown quantity. I know it looks like a good place -- hell, it looks like the right place -- but I won't really know until I get there. My knowledge of the city is rudimentary and abstract. I have no idea what I'll end up doing there, or what my life will be like, or whom I'll be living it with. For me, this new city is raw potential -- anything could happen, and that means bad things as well as good things. It's risky. I'm doing as much as I can to make sure I can at least begin with a small degree of independence and security, but as excited as I am about, I can't deny that I'm also a little afraid.

Compare that, then, to the situation in which I find myself in the meantime: it's like a big promise of security and comfort. A career in a good and worthy organization, upon which I could forge the life I thought I'd be taking up when I initially returned to Memphis. Back when I first got the idea of moving (or more accurately, back when I was given the idea) the stakes were very low -- I had nothing to lose. Now, following through with my decision means turning down something that many people in this city would consider a major victory in its own right. My mom hasn't minded pointing that out to me once or twice.

But as you know, I have problems with Memphis. And as much as I complain about this town, I do understand that my biggest problem with Memphis is myself. I've been attached to this place since I was 17 years old, and living here for so many years means that I've got habits and patterns firmly established. They're habits and patterns that I don't seem to have anywhere else, but when I'm here I can barely help but fall back into them. I have my little group of friends, and they're plenty for me, so I don't go looking for new people. I have my places and my routines here. It's easy, it's safe, it's comfortable. It doesn't challenge me much. I know who I am here; I've defined myself as I exist in Memphis. And while nobody can know the future, I've got a pretty good idea of what it would be like if I stayed here. It wouldn't be bad -- it would be easy, safe, comfortable, and unchallenging. I could stay with my friends. I could get a place of my own in midtown. I could work my way up the IT ladder, and keep working on my own little projects on the side. I know how to live that life.

Or, I could turn my back on safety, on comfort, on security and familiarity, even on my current definition of myself. I could go somewhere else, somewhere that might bring me loneliness and struggle and dismal failure, but might also bring me an entirely different kind of life -- something entirely more interesting than what I've found here. At the very least, there'll be new people, new places, and (at least for a while) no comfortable habits and patterns to act out day after day.

If you understand me at all, you already know which I'm going to choose. The promise of something new on the horizon is all that's gotten me through some of this dead time over the last year or so; I'm committed to going through with it. It's possible, of course, that leaving this opportunity behind and starting over (yet again) is a horrible, fatal mistake. But setting off for a new place, especially when doing so constitutes a leap of faith, has always worked out well for me, while sticking to Memphis has always left me dissatisfied. I think that if I chose safety and comfort this time, I'd end up regretting not having taken the more exciting chance. I can't imagine ever really regretting leaving Memphis.

I think there comes a point where comfort itself becomes uncomfortable, and when safety and security constitute a real threat. I think I'm at that point.
9:42 PM ::
Amy :: permalink