Archive for fear

Happy Trails

Dear Adair,

I find myself lacking the ability to begin a paragraph today. I’ve done this enough times in my life. I do this daily. Tens or hundreds of thousand of paragraphs later and I am stalled. I can’t think where to begin this end. How do you start a goodbye?

When we (unsurprisingly) unanimously brought up the end date for this project, the date seemed symmetrical and convenient. September makes sense since that is when we began. But as the month has come and gone, it has been remarkably challenging to write these final pieces. The deed seems so much more weighted, even though we are beyond practiced at it at this point. But still the end seemed to add stakes to a very low risk idea. These letters between friends became final thoughts in a conversation that has lasted all night but you still cannot end even as the sun begins to rise.

But end it must. The limits to the format and the range of topics we are willing to explore here is becoming clear. New projects have hijacked the creativity this project began to stoke. And like so many productions and rituals from our lives, this too must end.

I’m proud of this blog. It made me write every week, it made me more practiced and made me work at something only for its own sake. I’m pleased that the outcome could be consistent and as polished as we could get it. And I’m glad that the works created were of great enough impact and interest to us to start a second writing endeavor and began plans for others still. The spark it fanned will not be dying in the near future.

But real gain from Tales from Two Cities was not the habitual writing, but the exploration of a friendship. Through all the new discoveries, forgotten connections, hurt feelings, and perceived digital pressure, we know each other better for having embarked on this together. We have shared family history, hidden passions, cursed our shortcomings, and rallied behind our creative strives. Working together on this made the apathy of long distance friendship impossible. We had to talk, and share, and grow. With new works coming together, I know we can be sure of this continued growth as writers and people.

I’d like to say thank you for suggesting we do this. I feel more involved in your life and more connected as an artist because of this. In fact, the community I’ve felt from working with you has rippled out to every corner of my creative life. For your impact, your editing and your friendship, I thank you.

For the last time, but not the last time,

-Danimg_5123

Life Is A Carnival

Dan,

It’s been four short years since I moved to the city I now happily call home, and I find it a struggle to recall how it felt to not live in this place. The years here haven’t always felt smooth but being a resident of Seattle has almost always felt “right” to me, as if I found the magical place where I belong. But no place is perfect, no matter how besotted you are with it.

In the last four years I have had one moment of doubt regarding my choice to pack up my life and drive to Washington. So here’s the story of how on day three of living here I nearly came crawling back to Montana.

I moved to Seattle with no job, no home and very few acquaintances. I left my family and the comfort of a place I had known for twenty-three years in the hopes that this city would become my new home. Three days into this adventure I came outside to find the windows of my car shattered and part of the car’s steering taken apart (not to mention a fair amount of blood on the interior).

At the time that I came across my vehicle I was on my way to meet my friend Megan, we had solidified our friendship less than 24 hours prior but she handled the situation like a champ. As we waited for the police to come file a report she helped me remove the belongings that remained in my vehicle and take them into my friend’s apartment. We then made phone calls to find a mechanic open on a Sunday and when my car was safely towed away she drove me to a job interview I had scheduled for later that day.

After the interview, she dropped me off downtown where I was staying, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I felt like a part of me had been violated, knowing that a stranger had sifted through my photos and books (which was pretty much all I had in the car).

I came into my friend’s apartment and found it empty so I sat on his couch, looked out the window and wondered what the hell I was thinking when I made the decision to leave my home. I called my mother and cried, I told her I missed her and felt so alone and didn’t know if I made the right choice. I wanted some encouraging sign but I felt as if the city itself was rejecting me.

After I got off the phone, my friend walked in and took in the whole scene of me sitting in a dark living room and crying. Uncharacteristically, he hugged me and told me that it was just a bad day and offered to make popcorn and put on a movie for us. As soon as he went into the kitchen, my phone rang with a job offer and moments later Megan texted me with words of encouragement and it felt as if the puzzle pieces were coming into place.

My life didn’t come into immediate focus that night but as I sat on the couch next to an old friend, watching the ferries glide across the dark water, and texting my new friend, I felt like I could handle it. I had a support unit, a job and a roof over my head. And for the first time I really saw that there was potential of something great in this city, something I couldn’t yet verbalize but now recognize as finding your place.

Navigating choppy water,

Adair

 

 

Home from Home

Hi Lexi,

You touch on a great point regarding identity. I, too, had people asking me months before I came back to the States what I was going to do once I returned. I found it hard to answer because I didn’t have an answer. I know I want to live, and live passionately. I’m searching for my next opportunity to do that and I’m thankful I have a degree that will allow me to lead life with my heart. And I can only hope that I can be as happy as the Scottish grocery clerk you speak of.

In my transition back to living in Montana I’m realizing more and more that we are minorities. Especially in our big, low population, state. We’ve spent continuous months traveling the world and having cultural experiences. While I consider us lucky to be a minority in this situation I also find it difficult at times. We can turn to few friends to reminisce about long train journeys, flight delays in foreign countries, or trying to order a meal in a city where the only words you can say in their language are ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’

In my twelve months of living in Switzerland I averaged more than one country every month. I’ve walked many historic streets and had much time to wander. I’ve developed into the type of traveler who would rather walk the streets of a new place to find cities best-kept secrets instead of riding the metro from point A to B. I have put in countless steps in some of the most beautiful places in the World. I once stumbled upon a park in Brussels that a local had never heard about. I sat in a restaurant in Rome over the Christmas holiday for three hours talking to the owners while drinking house wine. And I’ve walked the streets of Istanbul where suicide bombs went off just weeks before.

I’m overwhelmed. When I see people I haven’t seen or talked to in a year and they ask questions like “How was it?” How do I answer that? It was great! It was humbling. It was the best year of my life. Travel, experience it yourself! I want to share, but not too much. These memories are intimate and sharing too much feels like I’m giving my heart away. And then there are people’s reactions to what I share. Fear, awe, amazement, shock. To me, my adventures seem so normal so I’m finding it hard to grasp when people have such exaggerated responses.

The things I’ve learned are really important to me. I’ve learned to not take convenience for granted. Grocery stores being open all night, shopping on Sundays, and owning a car. These are things considered normal in our country and when I first moved to Switzerland I found it odd to not have these things. Now I find it weird to be able to shop on Sundays, grocery stores being open 24/7, and I miss my nine-minute train into Zürich. My thought-process is different now, I think differently. How do I take my newly wired mind and adapt to what used to be my normal?

I was telling my mom and her friend the story of terrorism causing me to have to cancel my flight from Prague to Zürich because of a layover in Brussels just five days after the airport bombing. While speaking about this I was reminded of something. These journeys and experiences made us brave, courageous, strong, fearless, and strong-willed. And whatever obstacles we face in our hometown, state, or country we can take on. I know we can because we’ve conquered other things with more barriers than I could speak to. We’ve got this.

I hope you enjoy those long talks with your dogs and I wish you luck in answering the “what’s next” question. Enjoy these moments.

All my best,

~Vanessa

Live and Learn

Dan,

It fascinates me how much the people of this country differ as you travel across it. The world feels simpler in a city filled with so many like minded individuals, but it wasn’t so long ago that we both lived in a state that varied so extremely with each road trip you took through it. Even the people we know from childhood differ so completely; contrasting career paths, life choices and beliefs.

You talked of the memories of our country, how they hold us together when it seems like so much is able to fall apart. I look at what our generation has gone through alone and I have to agree. For as much crap as “millennials” receive for our flakiness and dependency on social media I would say we have also suffered some serious blows in our short lifetime.

When we were in middle school the world felt simple, our lives were planned out for several years and most of us weren’t wanting for much. The idea of adulthood was a distant threat and the biggest fear was often which color backpack to get for the first day of school. Then we were hit with a harsh reality, the world was not as safe as we previously imagined. People could be shot, buildings could fall and bombs could go off.

In our current reality, chaos feels like the new normal but in the days of our childhood the world seemed to be filled with fewer jagged edges. For years after it felt like our generation was playing catch-up, like an excelled learning course for why the world wasn’t fair. And then we found ourselves becoming adults, and we were all unified by being so suddenly on our own.

Politics aside, when Obama was elected President I feel a lot of our generation felt hope again. We needed something to believe in and something about that election felt like things were getting better, the country was becoming whole again. The future felt less exhausting even if it was all in our heads.

Our generation is so different but often so passionate, we don’t always agree on what the best path to take is but we don’t wish to repeat some of the history we all lived through. We want something better, something stronger. What makes us a tribe is our need to prove that we can learn from our mistakes and be part of something we can feel proud of.

Hopeful,

Adair