So why a blog? And why now?
Some answers I have, but not all just yet.
Second, there has been a definite, clearly identifiable, chain of wonderful and not so wonderful events which have hinted, nudged, and then finally, hurled me over the ledge in deciding to do this. See, I’ve not only decided to write a blog, but I’ve also given up my job and I’m in the process of leaving my lovely little cottage by the sea as well. In this new life I will travel, explore, and write full-time as a nomadic blogger. Yes, I’ve decided to be jobless AND homeless.
I could honestly say that it was always in the cards. I spent many years raising my children and working, while remaining the flexible parent in my marriage, the one who could get people places, deal with crisis, etc. I always had big plans for travel to faraway places, but I got married young and had children immediately, which tends to dampen one’s travel budget and ability a bit. Their father, however, rather begrudgingly joined the military to help our cause and then was immediately set on his own course for seeing the world. He wasn’t thrilled about this at first, but at about the five year mark things took a drastic turn and he has since moved forth with dedication that rivals Jiro the Sushi Chef.
So yes, there has been a very long steady lead up to this and I could go on and on about the past 32 years or so (heck…46 for that matter), but the more recent events have made the time Now.
Let’s just start with summer of 2015. I attended an amazing writer’s salon in Patmos, Greece which was hosted by GoodWorld Journeys and featured Cheryl Strayed along with three other writers. In our daily sessions, we were given writing prompts and then, after an incredibly short time, we shared what we had written out loud.
It was terrifyingly fabulous. It was the first time I had ever shared my writing or much of my story, with another soul, let alone the boldly honest, emotionally-in-tune goddess of a human and writer that is Cheryl Strayed. The first day I thought I might puke, and I may have a little, in my coffee cup, but no one noticed. By complete surprise, even more inspirational than the writers themselves were the other attendees. Through sharing our personal stories each day, we formed a bond that I literally cannot explain, other than to say that we are now a tribe, all sixty five of us. We communicate frequently and have pop up reunions all over the globe.
The next event was an opportunity at the high school where I was teaching, to start a pure passion-based project learning program. As a long time fan of Dennis Littky and his successful programs, it was a dream come true. I jumped at the chance, as high as I could and with both feet, without a moment’s hesitation. It was pure work yourself fucking crazy from dawn until dusk and spend every dime you have in your bank account, bliss. I had twenty outstanding young people and a verbal promise that we could work together with administrative support for four years…but no money to start off with and nothing in writing. After seven months of ridiculously hard work and many fabulous successes, I went on a much needed summer break. Then, after being away for several weeks hiking in Japan and Thailand, I returned to find that the little bit of support we had from our school administration had been completely squelched by our Complex Area Superintendent. My principal’s hands were tied, he was also devastated and there was nothing he could do to help. In the end, my heart was shattered, as were the hearts of twenty other people, whom I love fiercely.
The next thing that happened was just pure silliness. I’ll admit that I panicked after the program ended, and my head was reeling. The thought of not having a job scared me, so rather than take the time to recover and rejuvenate, I took another job quickly. The new position was at an elementary school near my house where a principal I knew had recently taken over. I loved the school and the kids, but it was a struggle to keep my feet underneath me. Not even two months after beginning, a serious family issue caused me to take a leave of absence and head to Washington.
While I was there, we had the election. Words still escape me, and the sick feeling rises up in my stomach even now. It was a blow, that like many, I still haven’t been able to deal with and I assume I never will, but I was there to help a family member. I didn’t have the luxury of hiding from the world and dealing with my grief the way I wanted to. It honestly may have been a blessing that I couldn’t or I’d likely still be hiding in my bed now.
In Seattle, I also had an opportunity to reunite with several Patmos tribe members. It was magic all over again and they were all leading such brave lives of inspiration and creativity. They each fed my haggard soul and I started to feel it repairing a bit. One night I went into the city to stay with a tribee. She wanted to see a band that she loves which was playing at a Ballard concert venue. I told her that I really wasn’t one to go out, especially to loud crowded places. I am much more a homebody, but I thought that it would be something different and might be fun.
I changed out of my “Nasty Woman” t-shirt just to be sure there were no issues, and we laughed as she said people would actually love it because Seattle was so blue. We went to a sleek Seattle bar for nibbles beforehand. Everyone was dressed in black. It felt like Paris. I was in a vintage T-shirt, jeans, boots and wearing my fuchsia North Face Jacket. We had wine. Her friend came to meet us. We had more wine. After a while, we all went next door to the concert.
We checked our coats and bags at the door and went to the bar to get drinks. I got wine. The opening band was playing but my friend wanted to be in the prime location when her band came on so we moved through the crowd to the front, right by the stage. After a while our drinks were empty and the band hadn’t started yet, but I knew how important it was for my friend to stay in the spot she had worked so hard for. I decided I would work my way through the crowd to go and get drinks for us. My purse was at the coat check with my wallet inside, so I walked over and stood waiting in the line. Two twenty something girls were trying to get in. We were all waiting patiently while the bouncer had them spin around so he could look them up and down. He was considering their right to enter based upon his pleasure in their physical appearance, and they were fully playing into it. This went on for a while. Several people made comments like, “Geesh, this guy” but after a while I heard myself say rather loudly, “Really? Are you kidding me? And look at you two laughing and playing into this…I bet he voted for Trump.” I know it was partly the wine, the liquid courage, but it was crass and uncouth, I take full responsibility for saying something I shouldn’t. The second it left my mouth I knew there would be repercussions.
In one motion he literally flew the four feet over to where I was standing, and grabbed me firmly. Then he drug me over to the door and threw me a surprisingly long distance down the sidewalk. I’d like to say that I took it like a trouper and bounced back up on my feet in my best Rocky stance, but that’s not at all the way it went. I was literally sprawled across the sidewalk. Halfway soaking in a large mud puddle, my palms, elbows and knees were scuffed up and bloody. My phone, which hand been in my hand, shattered into several pieces and people started gathering the bits to return to me. Many people were concerned. A couple of men were genuinely angry, but their wives or girlfriends pulled them away and told them to, “Just leave it alone.”
So, there I was outside a Seattle bar in November with no coat, no purse, nothing. Quite a predicament, as my friend by that time, was happily listening to her band front and center and had no idea what had just happened. While I have a certain knack for saying things out loud that really shouldn’t be said in the exact moment I choose to say them, being physically tossed out of a bar was completely new territory.
The next morning I woke battered and bruised, slightly hung over, and painfully sad. When I made my way downstairs, I looked at my oldest daughter, who only two months before had had her first baby, and I said, “Sweetie I’m so sorry you had to come in the middle of the night.” She gave me a slight smile and said, “Hey, how about we just take it easy and watch the new Gilmore Girls?” and I caught myself thinking, “Just like old times, except for the part where I got sauced and tossed out of a bar at 46 years old and my 27 year old daughter is now the rescuer.” At that moment my daughter said to me, “Mom, don’t feel bad. I figure we owe you for all the times you saved us from various things.”
It was then, as we were watching Gilmore Girls with thoughts of everything swimming round in my head, Lorelai said, “It’s never or now” to Luke about her decision to “Do Wild” and hike a portion of the PCT. It was honestly at that moment that I realized that Lorelai’s Now was my Now too. I’ve taken off and traveled in fits and spurts over the years as I could, but now my children are out living their own lives, raising their own children and leading their own careers. Now, I have nothing keeping me from exploring the far reaches of this world, not even a really good excuse. And I decided then, in that moment, while cuddled up on the couch with both my daughters, that I would not go back to work. That instead, I would take a huge leap of faith, pare my life down to the bare minimum, put what’s left in storage, and start living the kind of adventurous, creative life I’ve always dreamed of, Now. (With occasional trips back to Washington to see my two grandloves of course.)