All my life, I’ve had the tendency to make great, elaborate plans for the future. These plans will be deeply researched, thought about, talked about with great excitement; but they never come to be, or they’re traded in for greater dreams. After visiting New Orleans when I was 15, it was decided that I and my best friend would move down there upon graduation from college. A few years later I visited and fell in love with Chicago, and decided that would be the place I’d attend grad school. At one time my father reffered to these grand plans as “flights of fancy”. So it was that my plan to move to Hawaii was met with some skepticism by my family, even into the last week before I left.
There seems to be a pattern in my life that anytime I become excited and tell a multitude of people about something, it inevitably falls through. In my junior year of high school, I signed up for an exchange student program in which I would be spending a summer in Quebec. I went through the entire application and interview process, orientation, even going so far as to solicit donations from friends and family, but for reasons unknown to me even to this day, the organization just stopped contacting me. Back then I think I blamed my mother, because my parents were going through a phase where they would prevent me from doing things in order to spite each other, and I pictured her calling up the company and canceling the trip so that my father would be out the money he’d contributed. I’ve since asked her about it and she denies responsibility.
So although I’d mentioned to many people that I would be moving to Hawaii, I conveniently forgot to mention when that would be happening, even (or perhaps especially) my father’s side of the family. My father’s family are completely opposite my mother’s family. My father is the middle of three brothers; the other siblings are married with families, living successfully and well off; my fathers parents are retired, keeping a summer home in Ohio and a winter home in Florida. And while I know they love me and want the best out of me, I can’t help feeling a high degree of expectations and perhaps even disappointment from them, to the fact that I will lie or hide things from them rather than having to go through “the talk”. Actually, that’s only true for my grandparents– with my father it’s less a worry about being lectured, as he doesn’t really lecture me, but he has a way of being silently disappointed, and all my life that disappointment has been the worst punishment I could ever get from him.
I actually managed to keep the move from them for a long time after I’d made the decision, even hiding the fact that I’d left college by explaining that there had been some problems with scheduling, and many seniors were going to have to attend school for an added semester in order to meet all of their requirements. I’d recently acquired a cell phone, so didn’t have to worry about them suddenly discovering that my phone had been disconnected, and since my grandparents were in Florida for the winter, no worries about sudden unexpected visits.
Unfortunately I’m a horrible liar, at least when face to face with someone. Throughout high school and college, I’d spent the two weeks surrounding Christmas in Florida with my grandparents, which is usually pretty miserable as I’m expected to spend the entire time socializing with family. They go out of their way to try to make my visit fun, but what they don’t seem to realize is that fun to me is curling up on the couch with a good book. They also insist on taking me clothes shopping, which I’m grateful for because I wouldn’t own clothing otherwise, but it’s the most exhausting thing in the world.
I got away with hiding in my bedroom for a few days on the excuse that my rats had died, but eventually came the time when I had to emerge and be questioned. “How is school doing? Isn’t there any way to expedite your graduation? What are your plans for the future? How are you going to pay back your loans?”
And really, I hate lying.
And so the truth comes out, and the lecture starts, and in the back of my mind is the thought, “I lied because I knew you’d react like this.” Although I half suspect they know, and I wonder how that must feel.
I’m not a good liar. I don’t enjoy it. But I have lied so much about school, telling people I took the semester off, trying to paint it as a good thing, because it’s just easier. It’s just easier than explaining to people, “I was breaking down, I was falling apart, so I ran away because I couldn’t handle it.” And I realize that people ask “How is school?” because they think it’s a safe question, a way of showing they care and want to know how I’m doing. They don’t realize it’s a very loaded question, and one I’m definitely not going to answer truthfully in what is supposed to be casual conversation. So I smile and I lie, pretty much the story of my life, smiling and lying, and you think everyone must see right through you, but they don’t want to go into it either, so you smile and nod and go on your way.
The ironic bit of it was that, once I had finally told my family and gotten that out of the way, that was when things started to fall through. Auntie T called me one night to inform me that they might have to leave their house, and didn’t think I could live with them anymore. And nevermind the entire stress of having your plans suddenly derailed, the voice in my head was screaming “They were right, right again, stupid flights of fancy, and nothing ever goes through.” And it didn’t matter what I wanted, what had gone wrong, I had to move to Hawaii, because I’d told them I was, I’d argued the point, I’d demanded that I had to. And I wasn’t about to let them be right. Even though it wasn’t my fault, was completely out of control, I knew that if I didn’t go they would never take me seriously.
Even if I had doubts, even if I had a last-minute change of mind, I would never let myself give it up. And I would never, ever let them see me fail, even if I had to lie every step of the way.