Archive for stress

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

Try A Little Tenderness

Dan,

I think we can both agree that we try to make the most of the opportunities given to us. We fight hard for our achievements but we also recognize that we are lucky to be in that position. We appreciate the beauty of pursuing passions and dreams. Our lives are not perfect, we still battle our respective windmills, but we are living a lucky existence.

This being said, something I’ve seen as a habit for myself is the growing impatience I have with the pace of those around me. I’m a fairly lighthearted person in the day to day but I also know what it is to hurt and struggle to claim your own identity. I spent years floundering, fighting upstream to get to the place I find myself at now.

I have a job I love, friends who support me, family who understands me, passions that drive me and I reside in a city that constantly inspires me. I am living the life I worked for, I am the woman I struggled to become and now I feel like I’m waiting for the world around me to catch up.

The projects I help on thrill me but do not feel completed in the way I desire them to. The financial goals I have for myself are established but nowhere near accomplished. And I see people around me focus on what goes wrong rather than embracing how lucky we are to be given the opportunities we are offered, and taking action and make our lives better.

I know I fall victim to wallowing, overthinking and depression but I am able to dig myself out. I spent so long feeling so helpless that I don’t want to waste my limited time focusing on what I can’t have. I want to create, live and grow and I want to recognize every day how lucky I am to have these options.

Despite this I become impatient, I want my life to feel more like it’s “started.” I don’t want to wait on others; I want them to be at this ready place as well. But that’s not how life works is it? Part of embracing existence and learning is recognizing you may be alone in this some days. People, projects and jobs may hinder you at times; you may even become your own obstacle. Knowing this is half the battle and allowing life to go at whatever pace it needs to is the other half.

Practicing Patience,

Adair

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