Eons and eons ago, when I was 21, I did a stupid thing. Objectively, quite possibly, the dumbest decision I’ve ever made in my life. Here’s the thing though, it actually turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. However, looking back on this dumb-as-shit moment in my life, I can’t help but wonder why nobody stopped me.
One summer day, in 2000-something, I packed up a big green suitcase and bought a one-way ticket to London Heathrow. I had no money, and even worse, absolutely no plan.
Well, actually, I probably thought I had a plan. For a 21-year-old, a plan can consist of as little as a single step. So my 21-year-old self formulated a brilliant, fool-proof plan: FOLLOW BOY.
A liberal arts education, an Ivy League degree, and decades of Tiger Mother conditioning all count for nothing when pitted against the stupidity of youth. So my green suitcase and I touched down in London, and we hopped on a bus to Cambridge, where aforementioned Boy was living at the time.
It’s all pretty hazy now, so I honestly don’t really know what I did with myself all day while Boy was in classes. I had no job, and, as I mentioned before, no plan. I think this was around the time I took up hobbies like baking and road cycling, simultaneously getting chubby and acquiring tree-trunk legs. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a particularly sexy phase of my physical development.
But… ah… the stupidity of youth. None of this mattered! I was living far, far away from Tiger Mother, I was basking in the beauty of the English countryside, and I genuinely believed that I loved Boy. That was enough for me at the time, and I technically had six months of my UK tourist visa to figure shit out.
After six months, I came up with a brilliant new plan: MOVE TO PARIS.
I packed up my green suitcase again and took my ass to Paris, where I would still have no money and no plan. I had turned 22 by then, but I was obviously still just as dumb as I was when I was 21. But in the months that followed, I did eventually figure out a few crucial things, and I ended up staying in Paris for the next five years. Those five years taught me so much about life and forced me to grow into the resilient, adaptable, multilingual, and slightly traumatized person I am today. I can’t say that it has made me any smarter though. I still make stupid decisions all the time.
But the difference is that I now understand that there are no such things as wrong decisions (except for the ones that directly endanger our physical well-being… choosing death is as close to wrong as you can get). We can only do the best we can with the limited knowledge and perspectives that we have at any given time in our lives. Even the dumbest decisions can end up being the best decisions. Moving to England for a boy was just the first in a long string of illogical decisions–all of which have forced/enabled me to live life to the absolute, most insane fullest.
I am now completely desensitized to drastic, life-toppling choices. Abandon Paris, pack suitcase and buy one-way ticket to Washington, DC with no plan? Again, not smart. But DC was where I met the love of my life, who taught me what “’til death do us part” truly meant. No idea whether I’ll be lucky enough to find that love again, but in the meantime, I might as well continue to make stupid decisions.
I expect I’ll pack everything up and move again soon. But I’ll definitely have more than one suitcase this time.