30 June 2015

manic panic.


today was one of those days where i woke up completely manic. 5am, wanting to continue purging belongings and i could barely decide on an outfit to wear to work. at some point last night i'd woken up and started writing a list of things to get done: projects to finish, stuff to clean up. i had done a lot of this kind of thing a few years ago when i was transitioning out of my relationship as a coping mechanism, trying to learn how to function alone, i got obsessed with cleaning and organizing. in the back of my mind i knew that i was leaving. 

the thing thats interesting is that despite being anxious on a "normal" level these days, and being happier than i think i have actually ever been in my life overall, i still feel unsettled. its not because i am feeling like i have too much stuff (what if i need to pack up my car and go again?! its not all going to fit! --- thats a byproduct of moving from spot to spot for four months before getting an actual place to live, which is not really a place of my own). its not because every time Matt Nathanson's "kiss quick" comes on my ipod i'm all kinds of sexually frustrated and missing that handsome face for the summer. these are things that are both easily soothed with a glass of wine or a good thunderstorm. 

talks with two lady friends and a not-quite-close-enough-in-proximity good guy friend today while totally caffeinated brought me to the following conclusions: its all relative and not everyone is going to actually "get it". you can feel like the ceiling is falling down on you but some people are going to think its because the sky is blue. i'm getting better at letting things happen as they will. i'm getting to a better place, emotionally. no matter how much someone cares about you, everyone's lives are different and we're not all going to see things the same way. "normal" cannot handle me. some of us settle, some of us take forever to settle in. i need that passion to explore and do whats important to me, and i need my partner to have that too. sometimes i need a nudge to remind me of that. talking about hard stuff is hard but important and worth it. i need to blog more. sometimes life feels like a series of distractions just one after the other to band-aid situations and emotions, instead of actually facing things head on - i'm getting better at admitting to myself when i'm actually enjoying something for the pure fun of it, and when i'm enjoying it simply because its taken me out of some other feeling. i will likely never outgrow the feeling like i need to downsize, but lately i've definitely felt like i've traded up. i'm not feeling connected to this little town but i've got to give it a lot more time and a hefty fighting chance before i decide whats next. i kind of don't care about fireworks.

i've been writing a letter in a notebook for weeks and the handwriting is awful and i'll need to rewrite it more neatly before i send it off, but this chunk sort of screamed at me today. "life is such a culmination of experiences (good and bad) and its not always about instant gratification (though isn't it awesome when you don't have to try so damn hard?!). i've really learned that i am not necessarily what people (guys) expect. sometimes i love to be independent and strong-willed, i don't want help, and i'll climb that fucking mountain by myself thanks. sometimes i love to be pampered and want flowers and to feel pretty. i can take care of myself but sometimes i just want someone to tell me its going to be okay."

part of waking up ready to run a marathon for a week means that i'll get a ton of projects finished in the next few days. i'll make a to-do list and i'll work on it and cross stuff off because i love that feeling of accomplishment and productivity. i'll crash when its all over, exhausted from overwhelming myself. i'll rest for a few days and then i'll do it all over again. this is not anything new. its just how anxiety flushes itself out of me, especially when i don't feel like its coming from any one place. how frustrating to not be able to explain why you are feeling uncomfortable. how frustrating when on the outside you look calm and collected but on the inside you're scrambling to pull together some kind of explanation. scattered. stop putting expectations on your friends. stop putting expectations on yourself. 

the things i have learned this year: what i want. what i don't want. what i never want again. 

i've gone from feeling completely unwanted and misunderstood to completely desired and ample. completely unattractive and introverted to risque and unreserved. thankyou to both types of men in my life who showed me the difference. good ridance to the former. the latter, the type that could pull anything from me in the best way. i felt like i'd waited my entire life to be myself in those moments. all i needed was a safe enough place. all i ever wanted was someone to give that to me. 

sometimes i struggle with the fact that i don't feel lonely. shouldn't i feel lonely after having spent so much time alone? shouldn't constantly waking up alone, constantly going to bed alone, constantly traveling alone, constantly having to text,... shouldn't that all make it feel worse? but i've done all of those things with people who didn't appreciate what it meant, and that felt lonlier. but still, i struggle with it - i want someone to be with me the way i've now learned i need, shouldn't that hole feel empty? have i really gotten so good at taking care of and hiding myself that i can turn my head to that? when you've felt so messed up for so long that anything good seems like its too good to be true. relationships are damn hard. but being alone is harder. you can't blame anyone else. 

but right now.

right now.

despite all of the things i can't help but feel like I NEED TO DO, i am content. even in a place i'm not sure i want to stay, i'm happy. even in a house where i can't walk around naked in my kitchen, i'm staying put. i've gotten myself this far. freak-outs or empty spots are to be expected. every single day for almost ten months i have had a moment where something has made me cry, made me question what i'm doing, made me confused or angry. but every single day for almost ten months i have found resolution somehow. i've held on to things for too long, the queen of not letting go, and i've let myself sit in things that were pulling me apart piece by piece. 

but now. right now. even feeling like i know i'm not going to be able to fall asleep tonight. i'm good. i'm brave enough to face all of this shit thats constantly bubbling up inside of me, because i'm determined to make a better life for myself. i'm determined to let good people in. i'm determined to stay happy. and this manicness is just pushing me towards that nextt thing. a reminder that i can't get lazy. i have to stay present. that all of the wrongs i've put myself through will bring me to all of the rights. that someday i can have that tiny little house. i can have that dreamboat boyfriend. i can take all of the drives i want to. 

but i've got miles to go.

so here's to progress. and to-do lists. and to still loving the people who don't understand.

29 June 2015

to the one who's traveling:

dear ____,

i feel like theres a lost art to letter writing. everyone (including me) is all about facebook and instagram and texting but we hardly put pen to paper. i guess thats why i always loved blogging, it feels a little bit like talking to someone - a letter never sent, i guess. i have a real handwritten letter waiting to go in the mail to you when you get a quick address to me in your travels, but i guess in a way this is to you, too. i always write better and more honestly when i have someone in mind. i haven't done in it quite a while, this writing to someone thing. i've just been putting it all out there for anyone.


its thundering and pouring outside tonight, like last night, and it reminds me of home. well, i guess arizona is my home now (or at least this is where i get my mail and where i sleep). but it reminds me of maine evenings as a kid watching lightening in the sky through the screen door, of weekend afternoons in my tiny little apartment with the curtains open and something mellow playing on my stereo. i knew that i would miss the rain once i moved to the desert. everyone told me i would. mostly i just miss the way it smells. i think i'll be a big fan of these monsoon seasons.

i feel like there are so many things i didn't get a chance to tell you yet, like how sometimes i feel colors or about how i've really picked up on some seriously positive energy lately. its starting to get too hot to do some of the drives i want to do, i might have to save them for fall, but i'm addicted to that feeling of getting in the car to just go. i'm more interested in that than spending time in this little town, and i can't tell if thats just because i'm still really excited about the possibilities around me or if i'm not happy here. i drove through Flagstaff a few weekends ago and got such a "home" feeling from the mountains and the trees and those tiny little patches of snow still hanging on even though it was in the 80's. i know that this is where my stuff is, but i'm not sure this is it. 


i've started working on my five year plan. i wish you were around so i could talk to you about it. i think you'd be psyched... i've been in touch with my loan officer at my bank back in maine and we've been talking about condensing all of the rest of my debt (something i did before, about six years ago). if i can condense down all the debt i still have remaining (including some i racked up while being unemployed for four months and then only working part time, and you know, living), i can have it all paid off in five years. one of my student loans will be fully paid off in four years (the other i'll be paying foreverrrr). once i have these payments put into place i will actually be able to save a little bit of money monthly again, something i haven't been able to do since i moved. ...i left home with $3,000 in the bank and that took a year to save - it only took six months to spend most of it.

my five year plan means i can be relatively debt free by then (2020! - doesn't that seem like an unreal year?), and i can work on plans for a tiny little house. five years gives me time to think about where i'd want to be. do i want to stay here? do i want to be in joshua tree? do i want to be in portland oregon? do i want to go back to portland maine? when i think about what i've accomplished in the past nine months, i know how much can and will change in five years. but i'm putting myself on that path. i'm asking the universe for signs, i'm staying open to ideas, and i'm reading all the tiny house books i can get my hands on.

i went to tucson this past weekend to see friends i hadn't seen since i was a teenager. we used to live next door in maine as kids, and now we live three hours away in arizona. she has little kids of her own. i thought about how when i was in my six year relationship, i thought that getting married and having kids weren't all that important to me (because they weren't important to him). as i got older i realized that wasn't so much the case for me. i don't need a bunch of kids or a fancy wedding - i've gotten simple in my old age, but in all of this searching and traveling and doing i have left out so many things that i do want to do eventually. and i love that i still have time. 


and the best part is that when i finally settle in, i'll be ready. i will have done all of this other stuff and have amazing stories to tell my kid about how their mom was a rockstar in her mid-thirties. battling nasty mean boys and driving cross country. about how i finally learned about honesty, and fear, and trust. about how i learned to let go even when it hurt. about how i finally let the good things in and never took them for granted. (thankyou for being a good thing. i have appreciated you, even every day that you have been gone with so many more ahead.) i'll tell them also that when you take a tumble on a desert hike and go ass over tea kettle, you might get a big bruise right on your ass and a cactus needle stuck in your finger; but you can brush that shit off like its nothing. (yeah, i did that the other day. ouch.)

for such a long time i only looked ahead as far as my move - i planned a year before and everything i did worked towards it and revolved around it. when i got to LA everything i did was about whether or not i could stay there, and when i knew i couldn't everything became about getting comfortable here in arizona. since i've been here its all been about working at my dayjob, sewing projects, and long drives. i think what excites me most is that further on down the road there will be more. different. it keeps me going, it keeps me from getting too comfortable. i love my bed and my blankets and curling up with a good book, i love knowing how to get from point A to point B with no problem, i love getting takeout from the taco place down the street - i fit into little towns really easily. but theres more. i know there is.

but i'm reminding myself that this summer its okay to rest, too.  i have to remember to rest.


remember that book project i was telling you about? i managed to get some good quilt photos for it this past weekend. a little bit at a time. 

part of me still wants to have a little boutique someday. part of me wants to have a vintage trailer that i can set up a studio in and just sew. part of me wants chickens. part of me wants to take vacations to big cities with lots of lights and tall buildings and champagne (with a handsome man) so that i can go home to my quiet little place and remember what home feels like. part of me wants to hike and camp and not shower for a week and only wear bikinis and hoodies. part of me still misses all of the books i had to give away a year ago. part of me never wants to buy anything new again (like, stay out of Target forever, girl!!!). part of me wishes i could sew faster more longer better and finally use all of that fabric i have on my shelves so i can start over. 

(i miss you. there aren't enough familiar faces here. i've gotten used to this being alone business and i've gotten damn good at it. my housemate will share a bottle of wine with me any time, but you know, thats different. i love that if i wanted to talk seriously, you would; if i wanted to talk about silly stuff, you would. thankyou for always letting me put conversation first before anything else.)

i took two trashbags of clothes to goodwill and one to a consignment shop, my closet feels a little lighter. my goal is to do it again in the fall. the rest of my goals for fall: trips! & travels!, finish at least three for-fun quilt projects, enjoy my quick visit back to maine, and save up enough to buy one of those fancy memory foam things for my mattress - i may not want to buy much lately but the stuff i do want is pimpin'. if there's anything i've learned its that a good night's sleep is totally worth it (and hard to come by).

theres still three months of stories and photos and projects i want to collect before i see you again - and i know this time is good. i've got so much to do. i just wish you were here to do some of it with me. be good to yourself, and i promise to do the same. 


xx

20 June 2015

softening.

in the six years that i've kept this blog, i've written almost 850 posts. just about one a month. sometimes far more frequently, sometimes there were months i didn't post at all. but one thing i know, math estimations aside, is that each has been so different - and if you go back to 2009, completely different. six years ago i never in my wildest dreams thought i would be writing from 3,000 miles away, tucked in the desert. (i know i've said that before, but i swear it never really sinks in, and bears over-repeating.) 

its hardly 6am right now, i watched the sun come up from my bed/window as i always do. i'm tucked under my summer-weight duvet, eating yogurt that the handsome man i was spending time with got me hooked on (all natural from colorado). i had a restless night, one of many recently, where sleep came easy but did not stay; too many dreams knocking at my door. i've been scribbling them down in the middle of the night after they happen so i can go back to them later on. but, i think for the most part, they're pretty easy to figure out.

the desert/west is softening me. 


i used to think the world was way out at arm's length, just beyond my reach. recently it has felt like its become so much smaller.

i am trying to appreciate everyone that has come into my life, and those who have been there all along. everything. i'm trying to appreciate where they are in their lives and who they are - but lets be honest, not everyone deserves that appreciation. not all of the time. and i'm trying to understand that also... even when it seems that i appreciate someone too much, perhaps, just know that it is because i am processing something, learning something, taking in something that they are giving me. i have friends in my life who fulfill very situated and specific roles in my life - those who provide comfort and stability, those who are always around for girl talk, those who check in from time to time, those who are always up for an adventure, those who know just what i'm saying when i'm not saying anything. but we're all doing our own things - and there are days that i find it difficult to focus on what everyone else is doing (and appreciate it!) because i simply am feeling too much of my own experience. its a balance. 

The Thinking Quilt, in progress 2015

i have connected most lately with those who have a similar sense of wanderlust - which is not a thing i ever really thought i would possess. now, the thought of getting in my car to drive four hours out of the way just because is something i can't live without. if i could magically get out of debt and pick up in a refurbed vintage trailer/camper and just drive, i'd do it in a heartbeat. (i'd like to add that into my five year plan, but i don't know if five years could see me being debt free on the paychecks i bring in these days.) the people i've been staying up late talking to in the past few months are those who have picked up and moved, just as i have, from various places - some far, some not as far. they are those who travel over the summers, and in between work shifts. they are those who understand what it means to find yourself on a mountain top in the middle of nowhere, or overlooking a canyon into an open abyss - and just how small it makes you seem. but how very large you are simply to be there.

Horseshoe Bend, Page AZ
from Horseshoe Bend this week, i sent one "WISH YOU WERE HERE" text to a friend doing his own traveling, who will prob not get it until cell reception shows up again wherever he is somewhere between here and the pacific ocean, and a photo to a couple more friends who appreciate that kind of thing. the average temp was 100°, upwards to 104°. like a new englander with something to prove i hardly ever use the a/c in my car, even in that heat - all the windows down and music up. i had not been that far north yet, and the last time i was even in flagstaff (only about 1/3 of the way to HB) was last fall very briefly - again on my way to somewhere else. driving back down through flagstaff on the way home, i looked around, surrounded by trees and green, and realized i need to make an effort to spend some time there this year. it is a spot, that in the two quick pass-thru's i've done, that has had a home feeling to it. maybe it was because it was ninety degrees outside of the car, but there was still snow on the tallest mountain peaks in view. snow! (the heat the past two weeks has been unseasonable - this is august weather. steamy and sweaty and i'm loving it. its taking some getting used to, but i'm trying not to let it slow me down. but... snow. something i know i will forever be nostalgic for, in the kind of way that the past lies to you and tells you something was incredible when really it was miserable.)


there is one thing about the desert and the heat that i'm embracing - i've got to be okay with my body. i generally don't struggle with this. but the other day i had to go out and buy a bunch of shorts, because i didn't own enough for a summer like this. shorts are not my favorite thing, i have never liked wearing them. back in maine i could struggle through the hottest part of summer in jeans with holes in the knees. a few weeks ago i was hiking back to the parked car on the side of the highway from a creek in my bikini (and sneakers), and i got honked at - and laughed it off. i'm wearing little dresses, crop tops, unpadded bras, and pretty much when i'm not at my dayjob i'm wearing as little as possible. the desert is forcing me to be okay in my skin. the skin that i've tattooed and covered in pretty little permanent reminders of things that are important to me, the skin that i always nurture with sunblock and spf, the skin that is much tanner than it has ever been. but still my gut reaction is to hide it. not because i am ashamed but because as soon as its out there: you're known.

i have been fortunate to start knowing people here, very slowly, one by one. i am thankful for the few that have taken the time to listen to what i'm about, despite my particular appearance (which i admit feels fairly "normal" right now, brown hair and all). there have been a couple that haven't worked out and disappeared as quickly as they came around, and honestly its no loss. not everyone "gets it". but yes, those that have stayed and embraced me, i appreciate. coworkers, acquaintances, housemates, partners in crime, lovers. there are not many, but they are good people. there is spirit here.


colors have been abound. 

not just the orange and red of the rocks, which are visually overwhelming; a color i'm not used to in landscapes and am in a love/hate relationship with. 

but i have been experiencing so much of the way i feel things through color. the eye-opening royal purple of the man i trusted myself with. the soft yellow flash i see when good memories of joshua tree come into view. the way that even when i'm driving through the most desolate and colorless tan sand for miles type desert, everything feels green. 

its harder to explain this experience and feeling than i wish - i wish i could put into written words what it feels like for you be able to feel to feel it and see it too... but i suppose thats where my quilts come into play. for along time i was pretty sure i was just taking what i kind of felt and finding somewhat appropriate fabrics and making a project with a witty title. but recently i've realized that infact what i have started doing is showing what i see. no, the desert doesn't look green. it doesn't feel green. to me it IS green. i found out that only 5% of people with synesthesia (0.024% of the world) see/associate personalities with color and only 1% see/associate emotions with color. i have both - i'm a freak ya'll... it isn't all the time. i don't have it all the time with everyone i meet or everywhere i go. for me, its mostly with extremes - when i'm extremely happy, or extremely the opposite. which works out well, considering that its when i have the most desire to create. but i don't really have the means to control it, it just happens when it happens. sometimes i'm laying on the side of a mountain in a shady spot in good company and all of a sudden i get a wash of turquoise. like a blink of an eye.


i've been overwhelmed in some of the best and worst ways these days, but sleep will catch up and theres never fewer than five projects (two commissions right now) on my table at any one time. i have been seeing and feeling some beautiful things, eating too much take-out, and thinking of all the places i want to go when the weather cools back down. i still contemplate getting a second job. i still wish some things were different. but i am trying to get out there and do everything i can. 

"you've got too much soul to be handled by someone who has never been passionate."

13 June 2015

solo.

a friend recently shared an article with me about 15 women's perspectives on solo travel and what it has taught them. in all of my blog posts i think i touch a little bit on things like that, but so much of what i've written about has been about personal interactions with other people. yes, that has been a big part of it. but there's a lot more. 


i've been gone from maine since september. thats nine months - some people have children, grow and birth babies in the amount of time that i have been gone. moving and starting a new life has been my baby, but it hasn't always been like starting a new life -  a lot of times it has felt just exactly like the old life i came from, and more like correcting a lot of the choices i had already made. before eric left recently on his four month trip for the summer, he told me he'd see me, "if you're still around in the fall when i get back."  i said something to the effect of, "where else would i go?" - because honestly, i know this is where i have to be for right now. i may have moved here knowing only one family, having very little idea of what i really wanted to do here, and a lot of remorse over not staying in california - but for now this is where i live. i've decided that i need to give myself a couple of years to settle in before i make any changes. patience. travel is always there for me, i can pick up and go every weekend if i want to. but be patient and figure out what i need to do make a life. i'm 35 years old - what kind of goals do i need to set for myself? moving across the country was kind of a big one, but what comes next?


when i made the decision to move, it was december of 2013. it took me months to tell my parents of my plan... but i will never forget the moment i made that decision, almost randomly, while standing on the second floor of the hospital i worked at, filling a bucket with supplies to bring to one of the nurses. i had sent a text to my dude-bff here in AZ about the winter weather and how much i was ready to get away from it. how depressed i had been. i half jokingly said that if he could help me find a job, i'd move in a heartbeat. i had yet to visit LA, i had not met luke or angela in person. i had only spent time with tim during the wedding where we met. i had only visited AZ twice, and neither time with the intention of moving here. but once i spent time with all of them, in these places, it started to evolve fast. even when i started planning and figuring out logistics for real, i relied heavily on all of their inputs. a lot of it was "you can't figure that out until you get here," and i hated that - my nature didn't allow me to wing it. i wanted to know that if i was picking up to travel 3,000 miles from home after quitting my job and leaving my friends and family with only what would fit in my car, that it would be solid.


although i have done a lot on my own through all of this, i am still very reliant on keeping in touch with my closest friends - daily texts about the most mundane things. a couple of friends from back home have humored my continual need to share things, and my CA soul sister has been my biggest lifeline. i have lost and gained other partners in daily or weekly texts, swapping stories and photos - that and social media are what have kept me connected while being otherwise mostly alone. i am not the life of any party, and have never been one to seek out a lot of friends in my life, always having just a few really close relationships to count on. that kind of (lack of) social life has helped, mostly because i don't always feel that urge to be around people. infact, a lot of the experiences i have had with people while out on the west coast/midwest have been disappointing. when its just me, i have very few expectations to uphold. i've had no choice but to be independent. even with the help i had in finding a job and friends who were willing to give me a place to sleep while i was looking for an apartment - i have never been more thankful for help in my life, and i know that i would not have moved without them to fall back on. i'm not sure if i would have ever left maine without a place to land.


part of me knows that a lot of the things i went through with my time in LA were necessary, a way to clean up all of the fantasy plans i had spent so much time thinking about. i had to see what would happen in reality, how people really were, and how i would actually react. i owed it to myself to try - and true to how i am most times, i over-tried long after i should have let it go. a major thing i have learned is that moving 3,000 miles does not change your core - you are still you and you will still react the way you always would, until you just can't anymore. everyone has their limits, and i reached mine. i've learned that i hold on too tight, i have high standards, and neither of those things are wrong - its just that most people can't live up to that. i've had days where i have done nothing but sob and cry, but those days have been very few. in nine months, i think i can count the amount of times i've done that on one hand. at the same time, i can also count on one hand the number of times i have spent travels out and about with someone else. thats almost one every two months. thats a lot of solo time.


as someone who only learned to drive six years ago, driving has become my biggest ally - its one of the only ways for me to clear my head now and the only way i have been able to experience anything out here. taking a roadtrip alone doesn't phase me in the slightest. i don't have to worry about anyone but myself, i only have to stop for gas or when i need to pee (or photograph something). but, just because i'm used to being alone and experiencing things alone, doesn't mean i don't get lonely - and very often the first thing i do on these solo trips is send photos to friends. so many times i have wished that i had someone there to share the moment with. a few years ago i never imagined myself driving a hundred miles out on a desert dirt road with no destination in mind just because i had nothing better to do. i can't count how many times i've pulled over on the side of the road to snap a photo in the middle of nowhere, or stopped to watch the sunset - two things i hardly ever cared about doing when i was home. i catch myself looking at things so differently - every time i get in my car to go somewhere, even if its just to work on the same road i take every day, i see something i haven't seen before. i don't take the views for granted ever. i've driven the same road to california and back a dozen times and each time i stop to photograph something i had wanted to the time before. each trip has had me slow down just a tiny bit more.


i went from being someone who relied on a partner to do everything with me - in my six year relationship i relied on my ex to drive me everywhere, to be with me everywhere, and to do everything with me. when we started to work opposite shifts and started to drift apart, i took the bus or i walked or i did things with friends when it was convenient. and for a while, i stopped doing most things altogether except for going to work. i had taken pride in organizing our lives to a T, whether we were doing it together or not. we had everything figured out except for how to coexist peacefully. i was worried how i'd figure it all out if we broke up, it had been so long since i'd had to do it all alone, and before we were together i was so much younger and priorities were so different. after i left him, i lived alone for two years in my tiny little apartment and i had gotten good at taking care of myself. i had made budgets and was just finally paying all of my bills on time. i was selling quilts and enjoying taking vacations to the west coast. i distinctly remember asking myself in the beginning if it would all lose its luster once i picked up and moved - and i was very scared of the unknown (things had been so routine for so long). i think the biggest thing picking up and moving and traveling solo has taught me is not to be so afraid. i still have situations and times when i can't help but worry about whats down the road for me, but i am less lead by fear. i've learned that i am indeed responsible - i know how to feed myself appropriately (unless i am nervous or carsick), i know that i need 8 hours of sleep at night to be pleasant (good luck with that, i still toss and turn most nights), and i know that money can be stretched when it needs to be but i still rely on credit cards in a pinch more often than i should. but, i know that so far i have not encountered anything that i could not handle - mostly because i know how to make good choices for myself based on the information i am given. 


i trust myself so much more now that i used to, but that doesn't mean that i don't still get hung up on things. i'm trying harder to just own my decisions, even when they turn out to be mistakes. even when i know better but do it anyway. i've learned to trust that everything happens for a reason. (but i still never head out on the road without a full tank of gas and knowing exactly where the nearest gas station is along the way - because i don't trust myself to not break down in the middle of nowhere - note: this hasn't happened even a tiny bit. my gas light never even comes on.) i've learned that my gut is usually right and my heart is usually overindulgent. but i've learned to be patient with myself. that things take time. i suppose that doesn't have much to do with travel but more to do with the people i've come in contact with along the way.. but so many of these roads i've traveled have been long, and i think they've been metaphors in a way.


i'm not sure how all of this solo travel and time has changed my personality but i do definitely feel different than the woman that left maine. i'm stronger for it and have purposefully (and accidentally) put myself through a lot of personal stuff that i probably could have done without. but navigating from state to state and hiking alone has given me a confidence i didn't have before. its given me a reason to connect with people when i can. its not only given me a crazy story to tell and write about and photograph and share, but it has also given me a way to relate to other transplants, of which i have met a couple. all of our stories have been different, everyone has a different reason for what they do and somehow we're all here in each other's lives. sometimes the world seems so small. i've grown thankful of this journey, even when i was pretty sure i wanted to turn around and go back early on, for the way it has let me nurture a spirit in me that i wasn't even sure i had. when i woke up in the back of eric's truck to watch the sun rise over the hills in chino valley a few weekends ago, it was like i'd never seen the sun rise before (and i see it most every day on my way into work) - despite any misgivings or misfortunes i have been through, i have not lost touch with being thankful for something as gorgeous as a sunrise next to someone who understands. that is one thing i have wished for more of. 


the things i love have not changed: paramore, white sheets and comforters, cheesy motel signs, my green thumb, quilting, and long baths. but the list seems so much more infinite now: palm trees. views of the desert from atop a mountain. joshua tree. quiet. empty highways. drinking water. cell phone reception. gps. a freezing creek on a 90degree day. margaritas. the way my housemate bakes cupcakes at 5am. 


some things that have bothered me have been purely situational, and i have learned that sometimes i need to step back. the bigger picture isn't always so big. sometimes its not about you. sometimes its not your fault. but i'm getting better at forgiving myself. i'm getting better at knowing when its okay to be selfless and when i should be guarded. i've learned that when i'm feeling like shit because of something that someone said, its better to just get in the car and drive for four hours instead of laying in bed feeling sorry for myself. karma comes. and i've learned that if i hold out long enough, something better always comes along to make up for it. 


other than the visit i have planned for this coming september back to maine, i'm not sure when i'll get back there again in the future. could i just give up one day and decide to move back? that i've had enough of the novelty of being away? i don't know.. i'd like to think that if AZ doesn't keep me amused the way i want to be, that there are an infinite amount of other places i could go in this country and make it work for a while. i don't necessarily want to be a nomad, i like to put down roots. i still have a pipedream of finding my partner in crime and settling down. my five year plan secretly involves moving to a cabin joshua tree and quilting for a living or owning a tiny shop or whatever i can do to get by, but the responsible five year plan tells me i should think about having a kid and someone to spend holidays with as a happy family. those are things i've always wanted and have not been able to have yet. whatever road this journey is taking me on, i'm just along for the ride. i get to drive, but i'm not entirely sure that i'm at the wheel anymore. 

05 June 2015

save part of yourself.

i have never been afraid of my emotions. i have always been self-aware. i've never been worried about sharing what i've been feeling or doing or what kind of experiences i'm going through.

but i recently realized it had been nearly a month since i had blogged. i'd been telling my girl (and guy) friends all of my stories, all of the personal things that i normally write about using vague words. and it has taken me some time to fully process (and lets be honest, i'm still processing and moving and feeling) things that have been going on. and i think i'm finally ready to put it out there. maybe less vaguely than i'm used to. or maybe less vaguely than you, the reader, are used to.

this post will be long, but i promise it will be important. the photos will be pretty and well composed and tell a good story, but for once it goes far beyond photos and the way things look on the outside. and there is a lot to catch up on. i have taken hundreds (like upwards of 300) photos in the last month, but instead of dumping them all here i've picked the best ones to help narrate along the way.


when i last wrote, i was getting ready to head to joshua tree & LA again. a trip that was so important to me for so many reasons.

regardless of what i'm heading into or away from, the drive is always my favorite. as i pulled into my little joshua tree cabin, which was in an area of town that i was not familiar with, i reveled in a landscape that always brings me peace in the best way. i unpacked my overnight bag and settled in for a quick night, sent photos to friends, and climbed into a nice big bed by myself with my paper journal. i wrote about uncertainty mixed with familiarity. "the vintage decor makes me miss some of my antique belongings i had to part with when i moved. but its quiet and adorable and i wish i could spend more than one day here. this place reminds me why i love j tree so much. sometimes i wonder if i'll ever get to share this town with someone the way i want to, or if its always going to just be me alone here... maybe its better that way. i can never really explain it to anyone properly anyway." 


i had spent the previous few weeks cultivating a connection i wasn't sure i fully understood but pushed through anyway. this trip couldn't have come at a more appropriate time, because there is no place on earth that i think and feel better than j tree. when its just myself and no explanations.

"the sun has gone down and i can see the little city lights in the distance. i want to stay up all night so i don't spare a single minute, but i'll get up with the sun and go to my favorite spots and off in search of adventure/photo ops. i'm excited to wake up and see it all over again. someday i'll figure out how to live here- but until then i am content and lucky to be able to visit. a 5 hour drive feels like nothing once you're here. its the 7 hours home from LA that i'm not looking forward to. and it will feel/be so different this time..."


i spent the next morning excitedly texting my soul-sister in LA that i was off to see later in the day, and found some of the places i'd always wanted to visit: Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Desert Museum, a cafe, the far end of the national park. with the sunrise it was chilly enough for a down jacket, by lunchtime it was an air-conditioned drive.

i drove around sharing photos with and thinking about this new sometimes lover, sometimes friend, sometimes total stranger i'd let into my life. we had just passed like ships in the night as he was headed back from j tree the day before i got there. each of us love that place for different reasons, but enough to understand each other.


heading in to LA was just as i remembered, and i made a stop to see LUKE along the way. it felt strange to not be staying with him as i have most other times i've been in that city, but a quick visit to check out new projects, talk about all the goings'on, and pet the cats was good. i had a soul sister to see. it had been almost six months of texting and phone calls from a state away. 

she and i met two years ago via instagram, using the same hashtag, loving the same band, sharing stories. lately we'd been able to open up in a whole new way and get personal on a whole other level, and i was pretty sure she was the only person i'd ever drive back into that city for. "no trip into silver lake, no trying to work around everyone's schedules. just girl time and paramore. nothing better." for all that has been new and unknown, i was overjoyed to be moving towards things that were totally solid.


we shared a lot of mimosas and honest talks - a walk through the neighborhood where we could just be ourselves. and the thing that i love the most: we have spent so much time talking that a lot of it can go unsaid and still be understood. we had haircuts and hikes and breakfasts and cat snuggles. and of course, we went to the paramore concert smack dab in the middle of hollywood. third row seats that got us so close we spent the whole time side by side singing and screaming and jumping and dancing and not once had to wonder if the other was having fun. as someone who always goes to these shows alone, i was so pumped to have someone to overanalyze it all with on the car ride home. can you believe they didn't play that song? remember that song where she actually sang to you? that hair!


i could go on for hours about how nice it was to be with her, finally, on a trip that didn't include drama or decisions or that feeling of not knowing what to expect... but i'm not sure i could really do it justice. having to leave to come back home to AZ was hard, but this time unlike all of the others, i was leaving with a full heart and knowing we had done everything we could to enjoy our time together. we got drunk and shared secrets and did everything that soul sisters do to support each other.


heading back was bittersweet, because for as much as i didn't want to leave, i was equally looking forward to getting back home. in the past couple of months, this has felt more like home than i'm used to. more than i expected. more than i wanted to admit.


i'd been feeling selfish in a way i'd never experienced before. sometimes in meeting someone and learning about them, you open yourself up in ways you don't even realize. fresh off the heels of feeling hurt and abandoned and misunderstood, i was suddenly feeling accepted and nurtured, almost accidentally. easily. maybe its because he was willing to take the time, or maybe it was because i was willing to allow it in. 

living in the moment, being present, is something i'm trying to get better at. welcoming in what life is going to give me, knowing somewhere there's something to learn. maybe because i had been feeling so hurt before meant that i was able to see the good so much more clearly. maybe it meant that i was able to empathize in another's life a little better. pulling myself out of feeling hurt let me experience the highs so much more intensely. and maybe it doesn't have as much to do with him being handsome and smart and strong and interesting and easy to be around. maybe for me it has just been about not being self conscious. about being genuine. about appreciating. i took a chance on something completely unfamiliar, and that has to be worth something. its worth a lot, actually.


we spent a day swimming in a freezing creek in 90deg weather, having lunch up on the side of a mountain, enjoying a wooded mountain view for miles and miles, camping in the middle of nowhere (in the middle of a cactus field), watching the sun set in a gorgeous state so far away from our east coast home towns. drinking beers and talking about what the future holds. even when your lives are on totally different paths, its nice when they can cross for a while. sometimes you get just what you need just when you need it. 

for now our paths have gone away from each other, just as quickly as they met. i am still here in AZ while he travels the west coast doing what is important to him as a person. i'm feeling lucky and unlucky at the same time. when friends who always have, still tell you i told you so, it can feel a bit like you never make the right choices. despite the most fun nights you've had in years, despite having felt wanted and a bit like the woman you've always wanted to be; its hard to step back and recognize that not everything is permanent. sometimes, yes, people will do whats right for themselves, even if that means it has nothing to do with you. i've been there - done that. in fact, so much about my life right now feels temporary. i'm still getting settled, after nine months. i have mornings where i wake up and wonder if i'll ever feel truly settled. maybe its better that i don't - if you get too comfortable how are you supposed to keep your eyes open for what's next?


it can be difficult to not blame people for someone else's mistakes and sins. its hard to trust when all of your experiences have told you not to. but i'm left wondering what the last couple of months would have been filled with instead? had i not gone out on that limb and let myself be naked and excited. this was the first time in these nine months that i'd felt like i was making a real and true adjustment to being away from home. that i was making home here. that i was understanding home is really anywhere i feel comfortable.

and yet, its hard to feel my boundaries. knowing that i always give a little bit too much away, that being able to be alone is one of my best qualities. and its hard to accept that missing something means you had something worth having. 

these experiences i've been giving myself in being out here have not been lost on me - i've done a lot of growing and growing up. sometimes i catch myself wondering if anyone would recognize me when i visit back home this coming fall. i am not the same person that left with all of my belongings in my car and the wide open road ahead of me. 


i cried for a while last night, feeling a disappointment i wasn't ready for. i've been through worse, more hurtful, mean things from people i'd known for longer and loved harder. i was surprised at my own tears, feeling like i'd come full circle yet again. and i guess thats what life is all about, and its what i put into my quilts when i am designing these things with fabrics and colors and feelings - how boring it would be to not love. how quiet it would be to not get loud sometimes. how unfortunate it would be to be alone all of the time. there have been very few chances so far to see and enjoy things side by side with someone else while i've been here, and i'm at least thankful to have experienced that.

when fall rolls around i will have traveled back home to new england with this whole big bag of things, i will have hugged my friends and family again for the first time in a year. and when i get back, i hope to see that face again with stories to tell and new perspectives. and, if that isn't the case, i'll know that at least this little part of my world and my story was better for it - even when it can't be categorized, even when it can't be perfect. 


so, this summer i've got a big quilting project i've started to for myself. i've started entertaining the idea of attending quiltcon in the winter. i've talked with friends near and far and made plans to maybe visit a couple of states nearby that i haven't yet had the chance to. i'll be working a lot so that i can save my time off for later in the year. my housemate left today for a couple weeks, a trip of her own, and i am home to dogsit and hold down the fort. i've already taken myself for a desert drive and reconnected with that feeling of being out here alone. i've admitted things and called my mother. and even though it hurts sometimes, i don't take anything for granted. 

social media makes it a little easier to stay in touch, and even when i think i'm just about ready to quit it (facebook, blogging, the whole bit), i know that i need it. my photos need to be seen, my story needs to be told, and just when i think no one is paying attention someone tells me they are. no matter who turns their backs on you, there will always be something better to take their place. just don't blink, or you might miss it.

17 May 2015

redux;

i was laying in the bathtub earlier this afternoon - after having cleaned the entire apartment (which isn't as hard as i make it sound, its only two rooms after all), including the bathroom. nothing calls to me louder than a sparkling clean bathtub - and i started to cry. not big dramatic sobs, just a few quiet tears down my cheeks. 

this is what it feels like to start over. this is the feeling i'd been waiting to feel, searching for, since i left home.


my housemate planted all of our vegetables in our garden today, and made a giant pot of soup from scratch. we mopped floors, cleaned rugs, washed bedding and clothes and draped it all over the upstairs porch railings to dry in the sun. i watered my little desert houseplants and succulents and cacti, and i ran to the grocery store for donuts and orange juice. 

earlier in the weekend i had cleaned out my car, restocked my snacks and filled the backseat with cases of water. i filled up on gas. its seven+ hours from here to LA, with an overnight in J Tree about five hours in, on thursday.

i caught myself wishing for a film camera and photo prints; to toss one of my face out the window driving through that dusty little town, hoping it will travel through and float down into the lap of a lover i've just started getting to know - we'll be in the same place for a night but in such different contexts and for such a small amount of time. maybe we'll run into each other; but we'll regroup and reunite back here at home in another week or so, talk of our trips and all of the things we did and felt. that place means something different to each of us, but is nostalgic just the same.


this trip to LA will be full of familiarity - my soul sister and our favorite band. but it will be so void of everything else i've known there. the other faces, the other homes, the little breakfast spots, that rooftop view, that balcony sunset. this is what it feels like to start over. no longer craving those old things but instead wondering what it will be like without them. no late night lets get together texts in that city i hate to drive in, no lazy (maybe too lazy) mornings spent arguing over instagram feeds and who gets all the pillows.

my times in LA have been jaded by things i never got to have, and i am looking forward to making completely different memories there over a few days. to be arm and arm with a woman i can tell anything to. to remember that its okay to be far away because that means you can always visit. to give myself a real reason to always go back there, not just a one-sided daydream. 

starting over means getting yourself into situations that sometimes give you more questions than answers, but i don't doubt the things that have been given to me are mine to keep. they've been tangible and i've felt them with my own two hands. they aren't hearsay stories with expectations nobody would ever live up to. they're moments, in the moment, that haven't meant more than they are supposed to. they're starting from the bottom up. i reminded myself of the biggest lesson (though not mine to learn) of months past - if you don't want anyone to know about it, don't do it. these are not secrets. they're just things i'm not ready to fully talk about yet. when i'm ready, you'll know.

starting over means treading carefully and keeping things for yourself.

normally this is where i'd run off to the tattoo parlor or dye my hair. maybe i'll do both soon.


i made a new playlist for this drive, a measly 3 1/2 hours of songs for a trip twice as long (plus the way back), but i can't listen to all of those old songs anymore. they've lost all of their magic, sounds of days long gone. 

starting over means that the amount of people i want to to talk to about personal things is fluctuating. i'm all over social media like a tornado, but i'm talking around everything and posting generic photos of flowers and sunny skies. i'm not sharing the details with more than my close circle, and even some of them aren't quite understanding. this is how i felt when i had first decided to move - there were the select few who were excited for me and wanted to help in any way they could, and there were the rest: the ones who knew it didn't fit into their lives and brushed it off. there were the handful who were disappointed, so much so that they never came around. the cast of characters has changed a bit, but the core is still there. and they remind me often how full of a life i'm leading - even when it doesn't feel like it.

i can tell this is the point where i'm starting over, because i don't have a single thing planned into my calendar for summer. i've left it open in hopes that there will be things that will come along and take me with them. the list of who i text WISH YOU WERE HERE photos to is small, so much smaller than it first was. it gets smaller by the day. ...but, i wish you were here.

16 May 2015

In The Moment quilt;

i got rip-roaring drunk with a handsome near-stranger a few weeks ago, and vaguely remember asking him two questions: 1. "are you parents still married?" and 2. "do you ever get lonely?" i swear there was context that made them seem less random at the time, but i guess they're logical questions at this age.

this seems arbitrary, but i promise its not.

i spent ten hours in my studio this past friday on my day off, starting at 6:30am, on this project. from fabric choice to cutting pieces to sewing the entire thing. i listened to old playlists and made a new one. i texted friends and thought ahead to my trip coming up this week. i gathered all of the moments and emotions and experiences and words and conversations and feelings i've had in the past month or so - excluding as much as possible the negative stuff - and i put them into this project. because not all of my projects can be reminders of heartbreak.


sometimes i see colors when i spend time with people. their voice feels like a color, their body feels like a color, their smell feels like a color. i've experienced this before, but i don't experience it all of the time. not with everyone. not with every situation. my senses cross most usually when whatever it is thats going on is intense. intense doesn't always mean bad. just fast, and solid and exciting (though yes, sometimes, bad.... but not in this case).

recently, things have been purple. purple is a positive color, sensual, intuitive, romantic, thrilling, expressive. this makes sense to me, with whats been going on in my life lately. purple isn't always a very masculine color (i'd usually think blue or maybe red or some kind of green or brown), but for some reason it fits perfectly. not a soft light pale lavender, but a royal purple - maybe even a darker dusty purple. but definitely a strong purple. and it feels so weird to be trying to explain this. (sometimes songs are colors for me, too.) its not an aura, its not the actual person that looks flat out purple, they look normal. its just the feelings around them that feel purple. can you feel a color? ...i can. i know, that seems so crazy.

when i started making the In The Moment quilt, i was trying to plan out something that would commemorate a time in this moving process where i'd started letting go of familiar and welcoming in unfamiliar. eight months from home. where i'd been suddenly feeling really grounded but by no choice of my own - it was time. and it hit me like a ton of bricks. to be stronger and move ahead and open up to whatever was coming my way. to reflect what it meant to get to know someone, to spend time with them. to be okay with yourself. to live in the moment without thinking too far ahead. to still wear all black everything but toss on an aqua hair scarf. to really love my AZ surroundings and be thankful for the amazing scenery around me. to be grateful for that feeling of not feeling quite so alone for right now. for not needing all the answers.

i was already starting to feel the purple early on, and constructed the giant purple & black HSTs first. i improv pieced the rest of it around them, with fabrics given to me by my housemate (she had collected them from a friend who had received them on trips around the world) and some fun fabrics from my own stash. i loved this large free feeling layout, the ampersand fabric was thrown in there as an "and" - that is to say, me AND ____. me and anything - someone else, the road... if its me and something, that means i'm not alone.

it all ended up being brighter than i expected when i started pulling fabrics. but i think in a way, in the end, the brighter the better.



i really liked this whole improv thing, but i knew as soon as i stitched it together that it wasn't going to be the front of the quilt. it likely would end up the back. it didn't feel cohesive enough - it didn't quite feel like what i was trying to convey. the colors were right. the fact that it wasn't made up entirely of HSTs felt right. some of the fabrics were right.. but the design felt too big. i needed something smaller, more intimate, more compact and delicate. it needed to feel closer.

for a minute i thought about doing HSTs. but i knew in my heart that they weren't right for this project, as much as i wanted them to be. i was trying to portray a feeling of stepping out, not reverting in. a newness. i decided on a postage stamp design, one i'd made before in another quilt (which strangely enough was portraying a just be yourself kind of attitude via hayley williams inspiriation circa 2009) and had said i'd never ever make again. i said to hell with it, never is a promise i don't like keeping. there's a lot of things i've said i'd never do, and honestly recently i've done some of them... so, i pieced the fabrics randomly. there are actually a couple of same patterns next to each other accidentally. i didn't change them around, the little mistakes made it feel that much more authentic. go with it.


maybe it seems obvious... but the purples are in there. the golden yellow and the rusty orange are so AZ. the black & dark blue, thats me (hello!). there's some aqua and coral and light green for all the strange desert things around me here - the things i see on my hikes, the way the west coast is so different from the east. and theres a pale pale peach in there, a vintage fabric made long before i was even born, and thats for some things i can't write about yet.



the pieced border along the bottom is really just for size and not as much for interest, but i loved those fabrics - they mimic a lot of the fabrics that are shared on the back, bringing it together. but i also chose them specifically to represent a piece of what has been going on. the large red & blue tie dye given to me by my roommate represents my new home i've made for myself and the center of where i'm at. the little blue & white X's are for the things i've had to say no/goodbye to. the black & white batik circles are me (hello again! all black everything! coming all the way around, start to finish!). the purple (dusty as it is) is for all that purple i spoke of earlier. and that little black stripe on the end - thats for all the stuff i don't know about yet, that little sliver unknown creeping around the corner.

i love that purple was my focus in making this project, and yet its not the color that stands out the most to me when i look at it...

and the fun thing about having made the backing before the front is that now i don't have to even think one tiny thought about what to use on the back! its already ready! but honestly i'm not in a hurry to get this basted and quilted.

so, since i'm getting ready to travel again for the holiday weekend in a few days, this will get folded up nicely in the stack of TO DO/FINISH projects, until next month. but i'm looking forward to sleeping under it soon. maybe take it camping. doesn't it seem like the world's most perfect camping quilt? just incase it doesn't make it camping, it'll at least make it to my bed with the six other blankets/quilts piled up there. i know desert summer is coming but do i have to give up my blankets?!