Friday, 19 September 2014

In search of Alchemy

It's been a year now since I decided to leave my hard earned home of five years and go out into the wide world once more.

Once more with nothing. With no furniture, not even a bed. With my books packed up and left behind, boxes of colour and memory dusting in a barn. My piano gone, pictures locked up, papers destroyed.

I left with no job and limited savings to make my way alone in a place I had never lived. To move back into a city from deep rolling hills, back into all the languages of the world and the engine of city traffic from the kayikiki call of fox outside my window and coyote and bear in the woods. To make friends in a city of strangers after leaving those who would come by with homemade butternut soup and thermometers when I was sick or hunt christmastrees with me, swim in lakes and pools, and explore the surroundings of a whole wide state.

It was just this idea of where I wanted to be next, who I wanted to enable myself to become (again?) and what I wanted to surround myself with. An image of the lifestyle I wanted to experience next and opportunities to find.

How has it nearly been a year since I was packing all my things away to set out across the country?
And what has been done or found or left in that year?

    "To live without roads seemed one way
 not to get lost. To make maps
of stone and grass, to rub stars together,
find a spark."
~from "Spark," a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

I have travelled through and explored
New York, New Hampshire, Massachusets, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina
as well as
New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Guatemala

I have depleted my yatch savings fund to nearly the last dollar, but starting saving over again.

I slept on a floor and then an airmattress for three months.

I worked as a canvasser on the street, a cashier and hospitality hostess in a pizza place, and am in my second position doing development and marketing work in an awesome arts organization now.

I completed two residencies, two terms of grad school, a critical thesis, and am preparing to graduate with my first Masters degree.  (There is always room for another MA...)

I've missed my friends, people who have poured into my life over the five years who feel like family, who may themselves have moved, too, but many of whom still keep in touch, find ways to say hello and an "I'm thinking of you" and some of whom have even managed to visit.

I've made new friends and reconnected with friends from my past--discovering one college friend and I can see each other's bedroom windows from our rooms here in all the expanse and building jungle of this city.

There have been organizations to discover, to join and participate in. Women's groups, political groups, arts groups, writing groups, UN groups, groups from my life's many homelands, embassies, music, bellydancing, martial arts, concerts, all my favourite food groups, rake-leaves-at-the-monuments--so many different experiences to explore and wonder at. So many fascinating new people with complex backgrounds and stories far crazier than my own. Giving strangers in the metro or at a restaurant my name, my number, my smile.

I've made it to a movie theater five times. (LOTR the Hobbit II, Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Maleficent, and How to Train Your Dragon 2, again--if you were wondering...)

I sold my car.

My belongings are still in storage and I miss my books and my piano every single day.

I've acquired more books and learned how to use a library at last (though I still don't like them much!)

I've seen 2 ballets, 3 operas, 3 theater productions, 1 dance show, 1 musical, 1 concert (and I think more that I cannot recall offhand).

I have visited and been visited by my siblings more this year than perhaps the last two years combined.

I've run away to a nearby beach twice, and made it back to NY briefly twice, too.

It's been a scary year. A year of wondering, Am I going to make it? Can this work out?  A year of signing onto leases before having employment, believing that the job was around the corner. Believing what I was earnestly looking for would come.

On the hard days, I would draw up this wonderful quote in my head from Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

It has been a year of letting go of everything and finding a path through the sky.

And, in fact, doing not zero, not one, but TWO high ropes courses, despite vertigo and hating feeling out of control. And losing a friend to an accident, who two years earlier helped me first conquer those things, climb a 70something ft tree and jump off a 50 something ft pole.

This year has felt a lot like skydiving did last summer. At the beginning being excited, then going through the paperwork that lists in horrid detail every possible way you might die or worse, injure yourself and recieve nothing but a miserable life without any assistance. And then you see the little backpack that is supposed to let you soar and you think, no way. That will never work.

Yet still you get into a rinky-dink plane and you climb up two miles into the sky and you open that door and jump anyways and somewhere in that crazy freefall you discover what it is to fly, and you land on your feet ready to go up again, to fly some more, to see the world in a whole new way outside of itself and so far beyond your tiny little being.

It's one of the most beautiful things imaginable.
And it is my life.
And I am deeply grateful.

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