Learning to Fly

The hubby and I are in the back yard having a moment alone when we notice Michael and Blake coming out the door. Their faces look purposeful. Michael’s looks gleeful.

“Mom, Dad – We’re moving!”

We’re not suprised by the announcement. The two have already been talking for over a week about driving across country, getting an apartment for a few months, and creating a small social bubble with a couple of friends Michael went to college with. It’s been an uncertain time for two young adults living in a pandemic. Job opportunities have been sparse for Michael (a recent college grad). What he can find he is way over-qualified for. They’ve both felt isolated. Fears have abounded: Will we ever find work? Maybe we’ll never have relationships or families of our own. What is our future?

Michael has also been worried about his brother. He sees him frequently stuck at home, sleeping way too much, struggling with a view of the world that lacks joy. He thinks time away is just what his brother needs. And one more thing: he adores Blake.

“There is no one else in the world I can better imagine doing this with,” he tells his brother.

Blake is uncertain. He worries about the money it will cost. He worries he won’t finish the book he’s about thirty pages from completing. He worries he won’t like living nearly two thousand miles from home. Nevertheless, he agrees to go – and he almost instantly regrets the decision. But OCD has made him a man of his word. If he makes a commitment, there is no gray. There’s no re-evaluation, no backing out.

“Please? I want to come with you.”

On a Sunday morning, almost two weeks ago, they leave our driveway in a car their grandmother has lent them. One of our dogs repeatedly tries to stow away with them, but he doesn’t succeed. Two pieces of my heart drive away. I’m happy and I’m sad.

The photographs from the road tell an adventurous story. Two brothers on the road together. The phone call when they arrive at their new apartment reveals that Blake has been nauseated since he left. Anxiety has taken over. He immediately is offered a job at a book store, which he takes. It’s his first “real” job. His nausea does not abate. His mind is a storm of unwanted thoughts.

Michael, awash in pride over having single-handedly installing wifi in their new place, is an incredible source of support for his brother, even as he deals with the reality that moving across the country is not as romantic in reality as it is in fantasy (friends aren’t as available as they promised they’d be; many hours are spent pacing the apartment floor, jobs are still difficult to come by). He drives his brother to and from his new job. He buys him ice cream to settle his stomach.

Blake wonders if he’ll last the three months he committed to. So does Michael. The hubby and I remind them that doing new things is hard, and to stay focused on the moment. One moment at a time. One hard thing at a time.

4 thoughts on “Learning to Fly

  1. My wife and I each did some solo exploring in our past. I took a 100 day bike trip and she went to France for a semester in college. Comparing notes, we both found it to be one of the hardest things we’ve done with lots of self-doubt and loneliness, but neither of us would undo it if we could. These are the times you find out the most about yourself. I hope Blake’s bookstore job works out. A bookstore job is a retirement dream of mine.

    1. Yes, these are the times that we learn about ourselves and what we are capable of. Thank you for sharing your (and your wife’s) experience. It’s validating to hear our common human experiences. A 100 day bike trip? Wow!

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