so i ate a taco and drove away

~ by kate steele ~

when i last wrote for the ugly kitchen, i was in a ditch, lumbering through an ill fitted career and dreaming, nay, pining, for something different. my mouth was lousy with bravado about the changes i wanted: to quit my job, to live somewhere with better weather, no flying roaches!, radical change, and a complete do-over.

then, like magic, my husband was approached with an opportunity to move to canada for a new project at work. he called from denver, where he'd been working remotely all year. i skulked around the lobby of my office building and barely let him finish the sentence before urgently whispering "i'm in, let's do it."

with renewed vigor, i turned in my notice at work, made moving arrangements, sold our cars, packed up our house, snapped some pictures of our "old life," said a few hasty goodbyes and crafted a ridiculously pastoral mental picture of what lie ahead of us.

on moving day, the cat nearly scratched our eyes out as she hissed and spat and fought against getting into her carrier. later, she discovered her litterbox in the car and literally lay in her own waste rather than face the jumble of suitcases and boxes we took with us. apparently, she had a more clear understanding of what 2100 miles from the life we'd known would feel like.

i was oblivious, so i ate a taco and drove away.

a few months later, i'm coming to terms with the reality that it was sort of the weather, the roaches and the job i had become weary of, but not really. i'm weary of myself. i'm weary of the ease with which i run and hide when i'm frustrated, of feeling victimized by my own choices, of choosing distraction rather than embracing challenges...the list is long here. i'm weary because i've realized that, much like the cat, i'm languishing in my own waste rather than welcoming the adventure and the change i deeply desired.

it was recently said here that, in middle age, we reach a sort of second adolescence. we are presented with an opportunity to address the hangers on from our first adolescence. brilliant.

my first adolescence was characterized by fear and insecurity. i long believed that i am not special, that i don’t have that intangible thing that makes me valuable – not TO others, rather,  simply: of worth. in response, i lowered my eyes and quietly worked hard and tried to do the right things to become a productive adult. the problem is, i don’t really like the life i’ve created. the product of that sterile metered life no longer resonates with me. it doesn’t have the creativity and artistry and humor i now believe are my thumbprints.

i've sufficiently scoured the ends of the internet and have slaked my netflix thirst; now, I’d like to shake off the proverbial cat litter and try again. but i don’t know how or what that looks like.

i watched “the secret life of walter mitty” twice this week. i’m a sucker for the glossy graphics, the sweeping vistas, the anthemic retro rock, the unlikely hero of his own life…yep, I love every bit of it. one of my favorite scenes is at the end when sean penn’s character is preparing to take a photo of an elusive snow leopard. he chooses not to take the shot and explains “sometimes i don’t. if i like a moment, for me, personally, i don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. i just want to stay in it.”

at the risk of sounding cheesy, i think that’s how to start. find moments i like, personally, for me and stay in them. it’s easy to step outside of a moment and analyze it, articulate what makes it great, draw a three point lesson, etc. but as soon as those seemingly helpful distractions become a part of the moment, the actual moment vanishes. i’d like to stop peering in on my life, like an objective observer and just be in my life for a little while and see what happens.


  1. Your sister-in-law shared this with me this morning and was in love with it. Absolutely brilliant. You write with such elegance and I love your nonchalant way of no capitals. This piece is beautiful on so many levels. I pray you will find what you're looking for. I, too, have felt many of the ways you described in this piece and still do to this day. So, know you're not alone. Great piece and even greater realization. Thank you for sharing!!


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