Yin and Yang

Life, as I realize more and more everyday, is about balance. It is a constant ebb and flow, a give and take, about giving one thing up in the hopes that you will gain something even greater.

Right now, I'm learning to balance the things I want out of life. to change the image of myself I've created without leaving behind the passion I had for the image I used to have. It's something I've been learning to do ever since I left Alabama: there, I was a snobby, elitist princess in a prestigious Old Row sorority who filled nearly every night of the week with binge drinking, indiscriminant flirting, grinding on some random fraternity boy with too much of daddy's money at his disposal to the sounds of middle-aged rockers singing in a giant concrete garage of a fraternity house while wearing a dress that cost far too much money to have beer haphazardly spilled across it and shoes that would, by the end of the night, be covered in some unknown gooey black substance which seems to only reside on Bourbon Street and in fraternity band rooms. It was all incredibly excessive and unnecessary. But you know what? It was a shitload of fun. And even when I knew I had had enough of it, it was so hard to give up the carefree University of Alabama Greek life in which I was so comfortable, despite knowing that it was absolutely, 100% not for me, not who I was anymore. I felt like I was stagnating- even though there was a new boy every night, a new dress, a new hangover remedy, a new horror story of a date gone horribly wrong or a drunken encounter with a hobo, essentially I was just repeating the same day over and over, and it was no longer fun or exciting, it was exhausting. And expensive. And finally, by my sophomore year, it all just seemed completely stupid. So I gave it up, and took a giant leap of faith and moved to the Middle East.

In so many ways, it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I landed right in the middle of a giant city, with a new culture and a new language and a thousand sights and sounds to stimulate me out of my Natty Light haze of the previous two years. But even the greatest feat of balance has a few instabilities, a few unexpected this and thats which swing the scale back out of equilibrium and dangerously toward the mistakes of the past. Somehow, in a conservative Muslim country, after five months in Egypt, I found myself back in the same pattern I had fled halfway across the globe to escape, only this time the fraternity house was an upscale Cairo club, the open bar became hundreds of pounds worth of Stellas, and none of the many boys I filled my days and nights with spoke with a Southern drawl. And as happy as I was with my location geographically, I was not happy with where I was personally. I had gotten one piece of the puzzle right, but there were other scales that needed to be tipped, other sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of happiness.

Just as I gave up the football-imbued glory of Tuscaloosa for the grimey, smoggy cacophony of Cairo, I need to give up the thrill of the chase of a momentary conquest for the stability and enduring comfort of monogamy. This is a transition which both excites me to no end, but also makes me break out into a cold sweat. Monogamy takes work. It takes work when you are sleeping in the same bed with your partner every night. It takes even more work when you live 5,000 miles apart. Panic sequence initiated. Wandering eyes, booze-soaked inhibitions, instinct to run before anything can go wrong? Fully operational.

But this is where another balancing act comes into play.

I want adventure. I thrive on it- which probably explains why I moved to a new continent and began a new life in a place known for its unpredictability and dubious safety. But being adventurous is lonely. At the end of the day, I'm a woman. I'm a twenty-something woman whose heart is positively screaming for domesticity, whose bioilogical clock has been electrified into overdrive, whose body aches to have someone -not just any someone, the same someone, day in and day out- hold it as sleep laps around the periphery of my mind each night. I had always thought adventure and monogamy were mutually exclusive; to have one I would have to forsake the other. To satisfy my wanderlust, I would have to be alone with no deep-rooted love digging into the earth somewhere, tying me down and chaining me to another person, to a home, to a job, to a place I knew I could not belong because I don't belong anywhere...I don't belong to one place or house or country, I belong to the journey and the thrill of going somewhere...everywhere. Balancing my need to go with my need to be deeply loved and appreciated was something I aspired to ultimately, but never thought feasible.

The funny thing about life is that when you stop looking for something, it usually shows up on your doorstep. The great equalizing force of my balancing act showed up in my dorm room on the arm of my roommate when I was barely 18. I will gladly give up the unfulfilling pipedream that has been the Tuscaloosa/Cairo dating scene, the procession of men who fail to move my soul, to share my dreams, to chase that elusive I'm finally here feeling of my journey with me for the one who doesn't want to end my adventures, but rather to join me on them- to be a teammate, a partner, a co-pilot in my obsessive wandering. And somehow, in him, I have found the weight that counterbalances my journey to be loved with my love of the journey.

And balance is restored to the universe.

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