I've learned a lot about risk-taking in the last year.
It's all true, you know. All those things they say. Life is short. Take risks. Follow your heart. Dream big. Go on adventures. Do the thing that scares you.
Every inspirational cliché in the book led me to Bend, Oregon, six months ago. And thank goodness for that. I spent 33 years living safely. Never straying too far outside my comfort zone. Afraid to be too far out of the reach of everyone who loves me.
I needed to know I could go away and be okay. So I went. And I'm okay.
Yes, I miss my friends. God, I miss them. And my family. It took a while to get used to that. And really, I never did. I simply became accustomed to a new normal. It sure doesn't hurt that I'm in one of the most beautiful places in the country.
I like my apartment. I like the weather. I like the mountains. I like my new friends. I like my life, in general. But I always have.
What I didn't expect is what I'd end up loving. Or where I'd find it.
I met someone once, briefly, a year ago. Well before Bend, Oregon, was a blip on my radar. We were on a beach in Chicago surrounded by sunshine and mutual friends.
That was a good day. That was it.
In the time since we met, as brief as it was, we loosely stayed in touch through all the social media networks that keep me connected to everyone I know. That, of course, was all we had. Just an introduction on a beach one day, and a handful of quips on Twitter and "likes" on Facebook in the months afterward.
And because life is life, it moves fast and away and apart and suddenly I'm maneuvering my way through a brand new life on the other side of the country.
But I never really forgot that one time. That one guy in that one place that one time.
However, we reconnected earlier this spring before I returned to Wisconsin for a visit. Schedules aligned, everything aligned, and we made plans. A friendly lunch. A "how are you?" A day to catch up on all the life before, all the life now, and all the life to come before I flew back to life in Bend.
Obviously, if you've been paying attention, that's never how anything works out.
Lunch turned into intrigue. Intrigue turned into more plans. And more plans turned into the better part of an entire fantastic weekend. One weekend turned into letters in the mail. Hours spent on the phone. Plane tickets. Planned trips. Plans.
In one short trip we lit a spark that caught a flame and now my world is on fire.
It turns out, as life and unpredictability will have it, I moved 2,000 miles from home and fell in love there anyway.
Except I regret nothing.
Once again, i's like they say, right? One day one person walks into your life...
And because life is short, risks should be taken, hearts should be followed, dreams should be big, adventures should be had, and fear shouldn't stand in the way, I am coming home.
Home to my one person. Back to my family, my friends, my home.
That is where my heart actually is, waiting for me. The countdown is on.