Cheryl Strayed (Sugar from The Rumpus.net) has a story about a dress her mother bought for the granddaughter she would never meet. It’s a lovely story about continuity and the mysterious, unknowable ways the universe unfolds and she tells it with characteristic grace and gravity in Tiny Beautiful Things (more on this book later). My story is kind of like that. But without cute little girls in red dresses.
I almost didn’t listen to myself when I wanted to meet some of my far-flung family. I was in the right place, with just enough of the right time left to do it, but I was holding myself back with what-ifs and fears of rejection. They didn’t know me, at all. At best they would have some vague recollection of my grandmother spending time with them when she was about my age. Eons ago. I was banking on family resemblance and the intrinsic niceness of people, not something I was fond of banking on (the niceness; my family resemblance is sort of legendary).
I wouldn’t have done it at all if not for Kat who talked me into listening to my gut and doing what I obviously wanted to do and it won’t kill you to try so just go and I’ll hold your hand if you get nervous. For once my gut had someone on its side.
I didn’t expect to get anything out of meeting my family – I just wanted to know who they were and open my life up to any new experiences they could teach me. I didn’t know I would have to find somewhere to stay in May Pen eventually, but when I decided to come here for three weeks and it turned out that the school wasn’t going to put me up it was really amazing to have someone to ask. I wouldn’t have been able to ask if I hadn’t built some sort of relationship first. I put effort in with no idea what the results could be. I didn’t even know if these people would like me! Turn out they’re too much like me not to like me.
Sometimes we don’t know which road is the right one when we’re facing a fork. Sometimes there are too many options that look right and we can’t see to the end of each road to figure out if that’s where we need to end up. Sometimes we have to trust out gut to make the right steps based on what we want for ourselves and hope that all the little ‘right’ decisions will lead us to the place we ultimately want to be.