So I live on a dining room floor. . .

6 June 2011
I am sitting in bed with Allison
Pederson ("AP"). I just got off work at "Verma" Health Hospital for my second shift. She reads a novel while I write.
Fayetteville, Arkansas is a good place. When I graduated from SBU in 2007 with a Psych/Soc. degree I certainly did not see myself working at a mental health institute in Northwest Arkansas.
But here I am.
I came here for a boy (something I swore I would never do) and about two months after the move, it didn't work out. I had just secured a job, finally had full benefits, was stuck to a lease, and knew next to no one. Mom, along with everyone else I know, automatically assumed I would move back home to St. Louis. After all, did I have a good enough reason to stay?
I certainly felt I had several very good reasons
not to stay. However, for once in my life I figured when things got hard, rather than run and hide, I would stay and tough it out.
Within my first month of working at
Verma I was kicked, spat upon, pinched, punched, vomited on, and had desks, chairs, trashcans and other miscellaneous items thrown at my head. I make $5,000 less annually than I did at my previous job and most of the time I feel entirely under appreciated by upper management.
I developed severe stomach problems due to anxiety (I attribute this entirely to the stress of my workplace, and the never ending love/hate saga between a co-worker and I). My wonderful 94' Nissan ceased to start and I bummed rides for three months before giving in and taking out a small loan in order to get it repaired. My roommate and I had a major miscommunication during which she packed up and moved out while I was in Africa. I attempted a long-distance relationship which to be completely honest was entirely disastrous. I fell asleep with a lit candle and awoke to a burning flame 4 feet
high ON MY PILLOW and proceeded to almost burn my entire apartment complex down, but successfully put the flame out with a blanket. I only lost my cot, a pair of wool socks, a pair of Adidas pants, a backpack, a memory foam pillow, and 4 square feet of carpet to the fire.
It's funny, now that I read back on the last almost 2 years I've spent in Arkansas; it really doesn't seem as devastating as it actually felt at the time. . . it's even humorous:) But let me tell you--I was
quitemiserable at the time. I have pretty much just finished throwing myself a nearly 2-year why-the-heck-did-I-freaking-move-to-Arkansas-and-why-did-I-think-ANY-of-those-relationships-were-a-good-idea!? pity party.
Party's over.
I live in
Fayetteville, Arkansas. Going on two years. And how do I know I've finally come to embrace this? I got Arkansas license plates :) True story.
This weekend as I was laying atop a cliff overlooking the blue-green Mulberry River after camping at a music festival with some of my closest friends and seeing MUMFORD AND SONS LIVE IN CONCERT. . . I realized, for the first time in a long time, that life is good.
Life. In Arkansas. Is good.
Did it take me a while to get here? Absolutely. Did it come easy? Not at all. Was it painful? Probably the worst yet.

I am here, In Fayetteville, Arkansas. I moved here for a boy. It didn't work out. I stayed here for a job. I stayed here for insurance. I stayed here because I got tired of running away from difficult situations. . . And then, I just stayed.

I recently went on a trip to what I believe is one of (if the THE) most beautiful place I have ever been. I was with some of my very favorite people in the world. And although the trip and the people and the place and the experience was greatly enjoyed, I realized something while there that up until now I was entirely unaware of.

I am not stuck in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I CHOOSE Fayetteville, Arkansas.

I choose 4001 West Sycamore, Apt. 13. I choose a 1994 Nissan Altima. I choose to spend eight plus hours a day with eleven 3rd-5th graders at an outpatient Therapeutic Day Treatment Facility. And some days, I choose to leave that facility and rather than go home, or go out, I choose to put in another 4-6 hours at an inpatient mental health hospital. I choose to write. I choose to paint, although I seriously lack talent. I choose to sing, out loud and often. I choose to play, although I own 5 instruments and am a master of none. I choose to be alone. . . rarely, and only for short amounts of time. But is my choice to be alone. I choose to hope--that one day life will make sense to me again. I choose to believe that one day I will know Hope again. I choose to love RELENTLESSLY. I choose to love with reckless abandon, regardless of my own well-being. I choose to laugh-often and heartily. I choose to smile so often the corners of my eyes swim in wrinkles at the age of 27. I choose to sleep on a palette of sleeping bags and quilts on the floor rather than purchase and move yet another bed that I may catch on fire. I choose to eat at a kitchen table made of two cardboard boxes.

I find great joy in coming to the realization that all I see before me and experience right now is not simply "the hand I was dealt," but rather, it is he life, the job, the people, the experience I have CHOSEN. Of all the places, of all the people, of all the careers, of all the possibilities. . . i am here.

And for that, I am entirely grateful.