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Maybe This Time

Adair,

It’s odd how January never seems like the new year to me. I’ve mentioned how my birthday is usually my marker for the beginning of a new year, both because July is a more optimistic time than the dead of winter, and it’s in line with my inflated ego to reorient the calendar around me. But there are other moments, my anniversary, the beginning of the school year, and Christmas that also make me pause and think about the year past and the year ahead.

If I had to look ahead right now, I’d be thinking about another year in New York. Another fall that just makes me feel like I’m in When Harry Met Sally, a winter that snows us in just once, a spring that begs for pictures in parks, and another summer sweating in the subway and longing for relief.

The next year is going to see a lot of new projects, and a push like never before to create things on my terms. Working with you has opened me up to working with other partners, and those relationships are beginning to blossom into new ventures that may well be “the project.”

Another year will bring another year of marriage and the wonderful joys and inevitable hurts of a life long partnership. We are also striving to create together, which brings us back to the army days of our friendship working together. This summer’s production of The Last Five Years reminded me of the importance of our creative connection and what beautiful richness that adds to our lives.

My apartment is changing layout and design, I’m changing my diet, having a car is changing our transportation, and the relationships in my life keep changing the creative means I have at my disposal. The next year is going to be one for the record books, no matter how it all turns out.

But why am I looking ahead in the middle of September? What marks this as a moment of reflection and resolve? I’m giving pause right now because in a year we won’t be writing these letters. At the end of this month, we will be finished with this project and moving on to another. I won’t begin to tackle what that means in this letter, but I know that whatever comes next, we’ll still be bothering each other about it every week.

Same time next year?

-Dan

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

 

 

New York’s Not My Home

Adair,

Much of my time in New York has been spent in the service of others. Not in the “feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless” way but more in the “on the rocks or up?” sort of way.  And while I don’t want to bartend forever, I must admit that I do like my job the majority of the time. It’s not a vast majority, certainly not enough to amend the constitution, but over 50% of the time, I like it.

I have an interest in alcohol, I enjoy the social experiment of watching people interact while drinking, but most of all, I love stories. And it’s the stories of my patrons that I will remember long after the stink of beer is washed out of my clothes and my tips have all been spent.

One such story belongs to Grace.

Grace is who I think of when I think of a New Yorker. She’s tough, opinionated, and not afraid of anyone. She has her standards and she knows what she likes. She doesn’t like how the city is changing, but she loves all the new places to eat. Grace is all of us after a few decades in Manhattan.

Grace is a firecracker. And I mean that how a 1930’s newspaper editor would have used it. She has so much spunk and moxie that while in her seventies, I have no doubt that she could match wits with anyone who dared to challenge her. Having written and published two novels that are still in print, she was already a hero of mine, but in one night she become someone who I know I will never forget.

One night back in April, Grace and I were doing our usual routine. She came in from her apartment which is on the same block as the bar, and I greeted her with a rhetorical “would you like a Prosecco?” I poured her drink and, as a writer, Grace extended her routine but earnest inquiry into my creative life. “How’s it going? What are you working on?” Without fail, she would ask about my writing. And this night, I was honest about my struggles.

I said, “Grace, I can’t wait until I can wake up somewhere quiet, make coffee, take the dog on a walk, come back, sit down at a desk of my own, and just write.” Grace looked away and considered my words for a moment. “Well, would you like to come and stay at my house in Maine?”

In that moment, I could have cried. I took it as a joke, but she was serious. She offered to let us stay in the off season, September-April rent free so I could have a writing retreat. “Now you would have to pay for the heat,” she added as a qualifier. But the wood to burn in the stove of the 1860 built Victorian getaway for a whole winter would have cost less than our Metro cards for the month.

The kindness of an established writer who genuinely wanted to help another artist was remarkable. Never in my life had I been so flattered and thankful for a gift. And in my mind, that will always be how I remember New York. Busting my ass at my job and trying to make real relationships, and seeing those relationships blossom into something truly special.

As you know, for a couple different reasons, this offer didn’t work out. However, it was and will remain a real benchmark in human kindness that I have experienced in New York and beyond. And one day, I hope I can do the same for another writer.

Thankful,

-Dan

The Artist

Dan,

I grew up in a house filled with music and voices discussing said music. I grew up in a house filled with laughter and doors opening and closing as my family wandered in and out of our vast backyard. I grew up in a house that smelled like coffee percolating and vegetables being sautéed. And I grew up in a house where the walls were never bare, a house filled with art that remains vibrant in my memory

I can play piano (not particularly well anymore but still), I can write a story or a poem with some ease and I can even break into song on occasion. But I have zero skill when it comes to the visual arts. This fact bothers me because I love art; I have a decent collection of original pieces for a 28 year old even.

I would love to draw the images I see in my head, capturing the essence of how a view inspires me or leaves me with my jaw dropped. Unfortunately I can only admire the work of others or attempt to capture the image with my words. Perhaps this is why I’m drawn to poetry, it allows me to paint a picture of a moment using the most beautiful words my vocabulary has to offer. This doesn’t quench the thirst I have some days to sketch a face though.

I’m lucky to have artists in my life, people who make my photos into oil paintings or take instruction so I’m able to have a unique image on wall. People who don’t see sketching as complicated and messy, but as second nature. I cling to those people in the hopes to have the pictures in my head eventually put down on paper so I can share them with the world.

Yes I could probably take classes to develop a basic skill, but I would never capture things as beautifully as I see them in my head. I would end up disappointed. So instead I will leave the visual arts to the skilled people who can make simple things beautiful and I will do my best to create a masterpiece with my words.

Typing along,

Adair