This is nothing like it was in my room, in my best clothes

Magellan!

Happy November (tomorrow). I don’t know how I missed yesterday, considering I spent hours daydreaming in a coffee shop pretending to work. The Chocolati on Greenwood is across from a karate studio and yesterday the kids were in costumes and practicing with nunchucks and it was THE CUTEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN!

*Ovaries crying a little*

How’s Europe? Are you finding joy in your new experiences? Seattle is well, Seattling right now. A little wet in the morning and nights, almost sunny for an hour here or there. I can dig it. I’ve decided to enact #BudgetNovemberWhile I did my best to get out of the house in October, I neglected to really watch my finances. I never live beyond my means but I definitely took more ubers than I should have. I’m going to try and be more mindful of eating the food I have and not letting produce go bad. I suppose I should try and purchase anything that doesn’t fit into my #BudgetNovember today (I’m looking at you, super-soft 90$ sweater and 20$ ream of cardstock).

I picked up a design job from my last full-time employment- need to start it today but obviously not before I write you this letter. Did I ever tell you about Joy. (Ok, I know I didn’t because of our whole situation). So, when I decided to move to Seattle I combed Craigslist for any possible apartment to land in. I was moving out here with no job and 2 cats, and since it was holiday season there was no way I could afford last minute plane tickets. I eventually resigned to myself that I was going to have to spend more money on myself than I had ever allowed before. I found this amazing sublet at the top of Queen Anne- it was a cute, 2 bedroom house that was available for three months (and the cats were allowed!) while the owner, a little old 80+ year old woman went to Mexico for the winter.

It took some finagling. I had participated in this art show earlier that year and one of the artists in the show had moved back to Seattle. I had only met her 2 times, but I reached out via FB to see if I could mail her a check and have her get a receipt. I mean, I have faith in people but I’m smarter than mailing a $3500 check to a stranger. But it all worked out and I got the sublet. (I still owe someone the ultimate pay-it-forward for that kindness that artist showed me). Joy is the name of the woman who’s house I rented. It was absolutely perfect. Moved out to Seattle with 3 suitcases (one of which was full of my plants), a backpack and a carrier holding 2 cats. I was quite the spectacle, as I had on at least 2 sweaters and everything that didn’t quite fit in my suitcases.

When I got to her house she hugged me, and we drank champagne and ate a pizza. Best welcoming ever. I was in bed by 8pm and slept for 12 hours. When I woke up she had left for Mexico. I am bringing her up because today I finally called her about my security deposit… She claims it’s going in the mail today. We’ll see.

Life is in a weird spot right now. The freelance is going ok, but I am a little stressed at how unreliable it is. I have been getting some good feedback from jobs I’ve applied to, so hopefully the resume is doing the trick. I need to figure out a fall/winter exercise. I am having a lot of trouble getting out on runs and truth be told, I think my body needs a little break. Perhaps it’s time to find a hot yoga or something. Or maybe karate with the little kids? Would that be creepy? I also had the thought that perhaps I should find somewhere cheaper to live… This house is the first nice place I’ve really lived in and I love our neighborhood, but each month my money physically makes the *POOF* sound each time I write a check. I want to make Seattle work, but, ouch. I love my roommate though. What a kind and wonderful human. Also, our last move was a bit stressful and I’m not sure if we are ready to do it again.

Anywhoo…

The moral of the story is, we all need a little joy in our lives. Sometimes that comes in the form of experiences, or family. Sometimes it’s pets or a favorite sweater. Hopefully it’s lots of moments we get to share with another human. I want to remember to acknowledge the joy that is present in my life, every day. Even in #BudgetNovember. If you are lucky, you meet Joy right as you are starting your big adventure, and she is disguised as a little lady who feeds you pizza and champagne.

Yours,

N.

And you told me you wanted to eat up my sadness

Hey Lewis (and Clark, he should probably start reading this too if he isn’t already),

Can’t wait! Need to write more- now! Mostly, I don’t want to do this Twitter spreadsheet I’m supposed to be working on (wrinkly frowny face emoji).

By the time you read this you will probably be in London (and not China). But how cool! You are out in the world doing the stuffs. Me too! Last night through some strange twists of events I found myself down in Columbia City working on this project. A group of people associated with the Hillman City Collaboratory are working to restore this venue to use as a community space for performing artists. HOW COOL IS THAT? As I’ve recently committed to getting out in the world, my friend Andy invited me down and without really knowing what I was getting into (or why) I just went. I got to help knock down a wall and move a bunch of really dusty furniture. I tried to paint some conduit that was on the ceiling, but I felt like there just had to be a better way to not get all that GOLD, ON THE CEILING.

Andy and I had a magical moment as we drove home. You see, I’ve known Andy since high school and didn’t even realize he lived here until I got to Seattle. If that wasn’t enough, we lived around each other while we lived in Chicago. It’s incredibly comforting to have someone to talk to about the people and places you remember. Andy, knowing my general WTF is going on with my life sentiment asked me if I would stay in Seattle. I mean, I think so? I still feel like I just got here. And you know, the tides pulling me back being born here and all… But back to the magic moment. We started talking about how it feels to come into a place, without roots. And he’s starting to put some serious roots down. He has a lovely girlfriend and a boat and impressive friend base.

Andy transitioned out of his old job last spring, and he confessed that when that happened he was thinking about leaving. I think he was questioning if he belonged here. I certainly question that all the time, but I don’t have a clue as to where I would go if not here. Like I said, I just got here! Where was I going with this… Oh yea, magic moment. We both agreed that community is an incredibly important thing to be a part of. It’s super tough to seek that out when you are busy trying to find a job or a husband and figuring out how to pay the rent.

Community is so important, or rather a sense of belonging to one. Last night for the first time in a while I just let everything go for a few hours and got my hands, really dirty. And I want to help this team so bad. I don’t think necessarily if my aid in the destruction/rebuilding of a venue is the best way, but the storyteller in me couldn’t stop… With each of the organizers I asked “How are you documenting this, what story do you want to tell?” I mean, have you ever heard of the Hillman Collaboratry? Or any of the non-profits running out of it? Probably not. What they are doing is incredibly important, not only for the local community but Seattle as a whole.

Balance is a terribly hard thing to obtain. I want to make the monies to sustain a life in Seattle, but I want to participate in my community. When I travel, I want to say “I’m from Seattle,” and feel like I really deserve to say that. HOW DO I DO THIS? How do I participate, and activate, and find reliable enough income (that genuinely makes me giddy to go to work each day). How do I find a partner (while I’m not supposed to be looking for them). HOW DO I DO THE THINGS TO GET THE STUFFS THAT AREN’T EVEN STUFFS BUT MORE JUST REALLY FEELINGS.

I had a phone interview this morning, and I wish I could say I crushed it but I have no idea. I did that thing where I got reeeeal excited about a few things and talked real fast and then was like (in my head) “Oh shit, what did I just say?” I guess at the end of the day, if they don’t want me then it’s not the right thing. Just like partners. This needs to go both ways, and if you hesitate between me and someone else, please don’t choose me. (But I really, really hope they choose me. SERIOUSLY! I’D BE SUCH A GOOD TEAMMATE).

The waiting! I WANT IT ALL AND I WANTS IT NOW! But the best things always take so much time. I’m excited to try and see if I can’t offer to help out with some digital services with these Columbia City folks. They have an incredible story that no one is hearing. Maybe if I move down there I can buy myself a little time to figure it all out. I love Phinney, but man… rent is so much for someone who is freelancing at the moment. Perhaps it’s not my right community yet?

So while you are out there, finding rivers, lakes and mountains, meeting new peoples and having the moments, how will you answer the question, “Where are you from?” Will you answer Seattle? Do you feel like you left a community behind, or have you managed to bring them with you? Tell me your secrets. Send em’ via carrier pigeon.

Yours,

N.

 

All this running around, bearing down on my shoulders

Magellan!

I find myself counting the days until Sunday so I can tell you a new story. Whataweek it’s been. How about them Cubbies? That’s pretty exciting, and darn near impossible to believe. On Friday I pitched for this thing in front of a ton of people… Terrifying but do one thing at least once a week that scares the crap out of you, amiright?

Do you ever do that thing where you look a person. Perhaps they are a stranger on the street or at the grocery store. But you look at them and create an entire storyline in your head? I decided that instead of going around looking at people like they were strangers, or objects in my way, I was going to remind myself that they each had their own story. An exercise in human mindfulness, if you will. I’ve found I have more patience for people when I think about them in these terms. But if you thought I was weird before, you should see me walking around now with that faraway look in my eyes…

Anyways, so I love living in Phinney Ridge. Over the summer, Seattle did that neighborhood “Seattle Night Out” or whatever it was called. Since the one on our street was happening right in front of our driveway we went and actually met our neighbors and hung out in the street and drank Lillet out of Solo cups. It was quaint, and since then it’s been much easier to say hello to the lady across the street, or the neighbors next door or up the hill.

A few weeks ago at the second-to-last farmers market we ended up in this little group of all the people who live on our street and it was one of the most magical of moments I had experienced all year. The sun was doing that thing where it illuminated everything as if it were a painting. It just felt like a movie. The couple who live next door with their spirited daughter, Stella. The old lady across the street. The odd couple halfway up the hill. My roommate and myself (who I’m more than certain they all think we’re together). But we were there in this moment of solidarity, standing in a little circle and it was amazing.

Yesterday the roommate and myself attempted to do yard work. We were finishing for the day and the neighbor came over and gave us freshly caught crabs! Then he said “Why don’t I just cook those for you,” and he did and it was by far the best unplanned dinner I have had in a long time. It more than makes up for the water/sump pump/rain buckets that run all night long outside my bedroom window. But how wonderful and PNW-y was that? And having neighbors that you talk to! It’s like a thing out of TV. I walked to the market up the hill, and said hi to the lady who’s always working on the little fence in front of her yard. I waved to the hardware store guys who were closing up shop for the night.

The simplest of things are sometimes the best. There is this billboard at a church down the street that says “live everything like it’s a miracle” and for some reason I really need that right now. The fact that you had to get through every single moment to get to the one you are at right now is downright incredible. Even though everything feels so up in the air and even at times, rather fucking difficult, every single thing is most definitely a miracle in some form.

How do we remember to pay attention to the little things? Everything has it’s story to tell, if we let it. How do we put up just enough of a wall to protect ourselves, but allow the light to get through? That’s my struggle these days. I want to wear my heart on my sleeve and share 100% of everything I think and feel with the world, but I don’t want the world to turn around and use that against me. And the feelings! They just. Don’t. Stop. It feels challenging, and wonderful, and impossible yet that darn optimism is always there, so hard.

So here I am, another week wiser (or whatever), somewhere between my poker face and my over-shares. I still don’t know what to be for Halloween. The Cubs are in the World Series and that’s crazy to me. When we all lived in the Midwest, my family would meet at least once a summer and do a Red-line double hitter where we’d catch a Cub or Sox game in the morning and then the other in the evening. I remember watching the Cubs as a kid. With the exception of a few of the Sammy Sosa years, they were always kind of a meh team. It would be pretty cool to see them win.

Sorry Magellan, this letter is a little all over the place. I know you are about to head to China, so as a parting thought from one of my Polaroid film inserts: “What is beautiful, if not the Impossible” -Gustave Flaubert

Yours,

N.

 

Come with me, go places

Hey Balboa-

Just a short one, because yesterday I seemed to be in a bit of sour spirits, and I’d hate to leave it like that for a week. I got your postcard!

While I was wallowing about everything yesterday I forgot that my date had given me a book. Whatever You Think Think The Opposite, is fantastic because it’s all about taking chances and having failures and learning from mistakes. I’m proud of you for taking this chance to see what the world holds for you. I hope you find incredible things out there. I’m still recovering from uprooting my life and moving to Seattle, but maybe in a bit I can meet you somewhere out there for a spell.

Clearly, in a better mindset today. Went for a run in the rain. Sometimes all it takes to feel that equilibrium is a few miles and some fresh air.

Yours,

N.

Where would we be without wishful thinking?

Hey Magellan,

Wowza, another week has gone by. I’m slowly but surely recovering from the festivities of last weekend’s shenanigans. The rain and myself have returned to Seattle. There was supposed to be some super storm, but really it just rained a little more, and the wind blew a little harder. Not a stranger to the wind, it didn’t really seem like a big deal but rather a sense of familiarity.

I have been having an entirely too hard of a time getting work done. As I type I’m parked in a coffee shop yet composing thoughts to you instead of writing my articles. I almost got taken off a project, but I managed to persuade my way back on. It’s stressful, when your income gets threatened to be taken away from you. I won another project over an other writer, so I guess I have that going for me.

I tried to go on a date last night. I mean, I went and had a lovely time with another human but today I just feel like crying because the whole anticipation and execution of the whole thing is over and I’ll likely never see them again (though I did get a good polaroid) and I still have to just keep going out into the world with the painful optimism that someone out there is hoping to find me just as much as I them. The waiting! The waiting really is the hardest part.

A year ago I was in a relationship with someone and there were moments where I actually believed that perhaps, for once in my life it was a person who might stick around for I don’t know, ever. I had a happy companionship with a person and I started envisioning what an entire lifetime would look like beside them and it was a simple future I was actually starting to think I was capable of having. But then, something happened. It became apparent that my daydreams of ginger-haired babies and combined Chanukah-Christmas traditions  we really only just a healthy dose of wishful thinking.

We were going to be a pair of mittens for Halloween. It isn’t relevant whether I was supposed to be the right or the left but the fact of the matter is I didn’t want to be a fucking mitten. I asked the question. I did it knowing full well the outcome but I asked it anyways. “Do you think of me long term.” And he didn’t. And then like that it was over. This person whom I had developed a fondness and familiarity just vanished from my life. Without a fight, as if I meant nothing and was merely some girl he had passed on the street.

Getting over it wasn’t him, but this idea of a somewhat “normal” and partnered version of life. It just felt like oh great, another person didn’t fucking pick me. I mean, holy hell. What is the definitive choice I made that has had me on this solo adventure for one for so fucking long? I like to believe I am kind in relationships, thoughtful and even a little more gentler of a human. And this shit was over a year ago and I still just don’t know how to feel about it. If someone gets past that wall it’s like they will always stay there, these various little people-shaped holes in my heart.

I just thought I’d have so much more figured out by now. This whole career transition/development thing is so stressful compounded with the fact that if I fail I have no one in my corner. If I run out of money I’m fucked. I walked away from a perfectly mediocre position at a non-profit that most people could have coasted at for nearly a lifetime. Should I have done that?

And then the whole partner thing. Maybe it’s the absence of having a physical best friend here, or the fact that my soul sister is getting married. “Stop looking, do what you love… they’ll come a long.” It’s so fucking easy for people who aren’t worried about all the plates crashing to earth to say that but how the fuck can I not look? How can I not feel like there is some secret of the universe that everyone else has access too? Why is there no one to make me breakfast and just fucking hold me when I am fucking terrified that none of this is going to work out.

Anywhoo… Sorry for all that. I don’t want to spend so much time thinking about these things but I just do. What did you say, “peaks and cannons” or something like that? It’s this soul-crushing optimism (which I REFUSE to give up). I allow every single day a chance to be something new and amazing, and even admit that even a modest day is a good day. At least I’m getting back out in the world again. Maybe I should get a dog.

Be glad you got out before you really got to know me. I’m the hottest mess that was ever nearly fully functional. I can’t believe it’s already mid-October. I can’t believe I’ve been single for a year. I’m not sure what I’m going to be this year for Halloween but I sure as hell ain’t going to be a fucking mitten.

Yours,

N.

Come on Alex, you can do it.

Dearest Magellan,

I caved and shared this secret with you waaaay before I intended to. Hopefully it finds you in the times you need it most.

Yesterday I helped my best friend in the world celebrate the end of her single life. Alexandra is my best friend in the entire universe and I would, murder someone for her. We met in my first year of art school, but we grew close our second year in drawing II, with a Scottish instructor. She was left-handed, I right so we would sketch back-to-back and I would borrow her masking tape. At the time, I was dating someone from my high school and he didn’t want to let me make friends. She started asking me to hang out on nights, and when my relationship ended we kept hanging out. Eventually we moved in together, first sharing a bedroom for a summer and then a house for the rest of our undergraduate.

I was always worried she would decide she didn’t want to be my friend, but one day after we had shared a bedroom for a week she was like, “Girl, you’re my best friend for life.” After school I spent most of 2008-2011 and my spare money flying to Brooklyn to visit her whenever either one of us had a meltdown, crisis or need to see each other’s silly face. I helped her complete her thesis and she always gave me some much-needed affection and arepas.

So ironically, this part of me is very sad/happy/jealous that she is about to get married and thus, eliminating her need for me. She is acquiring new “sisters” (in-law) and they are all going to be spouses to the same family of brothers and bear children of the same last name and she is doing this way before I have found someone. I always assumed we’d be doing this together and I can hardly leave my house to even meet someone, let alone trick them into marrying me. I’m so jealous, and so fearful that she won’t need me because here I am just moving across the country, alone.

But I have this mantra, the grass isn’t always greener and I know that it isn’t. I know her secrets and I know the hard things and I am very happy. She is marrying my friend, who while not perfect will love/protect/provide her with an amazing life.

I cried at least 3 times today. One, on the Amtrak through Illinois to Wisconsin, because well, fuck. My best friend from high school told me she was pregnant, my best friend from undergrad is getting married and I am still wandering through life alone, and not sure if all these “normal” things are going to happen for me. The second cry was when I was driving a rental car through Wisconsin, listening to satellite radio when “Long December” (yes, that song by the Counting Crows- WTF!!!) made me cry and once in the back of my parents Ford Focus because they are just so damn cute, and I want a human that loves me like that.

I’m rambling now, but I’m (an organized) mess and I’m so happy for my loved ones but not sure what the heck I’m doing. This weekend has me feeling the feels (and I’m a feeler). I have this friend who is in a similar life boat to me, and it’s just so funny how life works. A month ago I was standing next to him in St. Louis watching LCD Soundsystem and he was in that moment, the only person I needed to be standing next to. It was perfectly random, but after 10 years we found ourselves in the same place at the same time. And it makes me think- sometimes we all feel like we are doing all this alone but sometimes all it takes is a poke into the universe to share incredible moments with people that see our real selves.

I’m gonna try to cry less and do more. I need to learn how to play the drums. That is a thought that just won’t go away and I’m not getting any younger.

I hope your travels are amazing. Send me a postcard soon.

Yours,

N .

Sometimes you have to wait, so patiently

Dear Magellan,

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I think our paths crossed, accidentally. I’m not sure if we were ever meant to be lovers, but eventually we were supposed to be friends. By some twist of fate we found each earlier, and at the wrong intersection of our lives. You asked for me to tell you about myself over a text message but how can one find the words in just a few characters? You were already halfway out the door, ready to see the world leaving the city of rain behind. I was halfway through a bottle on a downward spiral with a black hole from my past.

I told you I would write you, but without an address I figure this is the place to keep my letters to you. Maybe I’ll share this with you someday, be it a month, or years or tomorrow. Maybe never. I have terrible timing and I never wear a watch. You were curious and wanted to know everything about me and I didn’t want to fall for you so I told you nothing. I will use these letters to share my story with you, and maybe while you are finding yourself out there I too will find myself.

I don’t think I remember anything before the birth of my brother. I don’t even remember my mother being pregnant as he grew in her womb as a promise that I wouldn’t be completely alone on this rock that was hurtling through time and space. So for me, life began the day my brother emerged into the world. I remember being with my grandmother and walking though the back yard and down a path through the woods to a grocery store. I remember feeling like something was happening but my two-year-old self could not grasp the gravity of the day. I remember coloring a sign, with those foreign hieroglyphics only discernible to those who cannot yet comprehend the finer points of language.

It was a day like today, although back then it was May and in this moment it is October 2nd, some 29 years later. The sun was shining bright the air was crisp. Not quite coat weather but requiring just more than a sweater. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m currently teetering on the line of exact latitudinal coordinates as I was that day, just a few degrees west this time.

And then I met him and I realized everything had changed. My toddler-self understood that I had to protect this being with whom I shared genetic similarities and facial features. I would have to defend him from those that wanted to hurt his feelings, and his person. I would have to form a unit against the world, and our parents. We would need to be the last two people standing and be able to count on each other because we share the same eyes, and the many of the same markings on our chromosomes. The legend of our lives is that we came from the same place, and no one else would ever come from that exact beginning. My brother’s birth was the day my memories began.

I found you, mere minutes before you were to vanish from my physical life and that’s ok. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was reborn by meeting you but I was changed on some molecular level. When you asked me about myself I didn’t know where to begin, or what to share or omit so I said nothing. Something did happen, however. The tiniest kernel of feelings lodged itself somewhere I can’t yet identify, so here I am.

You asked me for my story and I’m going to give it to you. One painful (or pleasurable) recollection at a time. I can’t promise it will be ordinary, extraordinary or even the least bit interesting but it is what it is. This is day one of our journey. Yours, around the world. Mine- I’m not quite sure where it is going to go, but I’m learning to embrace the unknown. I’ll see you soon.

Yours,

N.