Yesterday I decided I would not move to Alaska.
Today (tonight) I decided I will (probably) move to Alaska.
Can I be human for a minute?
This summer hasn’t been easy. Panic attacks at a severity I’ve never experienced. Writing at a snail’s pace. Sadness. A stupid, overwhelming sadness. The what the fuck am I doing where am I going how am I going to pay for bed sheets and oatmeal and why am I going and why am I not writing and I don’t even like close reading so who the hell am I going deal. More than anything: I am sick. Sick. Sick. Sick. Pretending not to be sick. Denial. I won’t go into details, it’s nothing crazy or life threatening, but something that makes me weak every day, gives me the spins, makes me nervous about students and colleagues relying on me.
If you’d told me a year ago, I would move to Alaska, I’d be shocked and confused and very happy. And I think Past Me would tell Current Me to buck the fuck up and get on the plane.
But does past me know the whole story?
Two weeks from tonight, I’m maybe in Alaska. I may (definitely) need some wine.
So July is relentless.
I visited Mexico and got sunburned for the first time in 10 years. Grad school started early with a hybrid pedagogy course. Writing is hard. The heat makes me wonky. A summer flu knocked me out for a week. August kicks off on Friday and I’m on eBay bidding on parkas suitable for the arctic and soon I’ll be twenty-three.
It’s summer solstice. 8:04 pm and the sun is still beaming. If I were already up in Fairbanks, up in Alaska, the sun wouldn’t set until tomorrow–until past one am–and would only remain down for about an hour.
But I’m in California. In the house I grew up in. In the office where I wrote Harry Potter fan-fiction for Quizilla.com and threw hours into Neopets. Difference is that at thirteen, I used the desk. Now, almost twenty-three, I prefer the floor. Thank you, please. Not much has changed since winter 2010, before Colorado Colorado and Humboldt County. Saturdays nights spent in this office on the moss colored carpeting wanting to write but not wanting to write and kind of feeling like I should cry or maybe eat chocolate.
It’s been over a month since I left Colorado. Over a month since I graduated. I miss it and I don’t miss it and I’m angry that Colorado Springs is experiencing its rainiest summer in the last three years. I miss people. Friends. And I miss people I didn’t expect to miss. The dude at the grocery store who always worked the self checkout lines, who always nodded goodbye. The baristas at the Starbucks I went to when I was trying to hide from my college life. The baristas I didn’t want to be on talking terms with but somehow was coerced by endearing smiles. And then the lanky barista with short curly hair at my college, who I somehow often saw at the most random places, far away from campus, like the Barnes and Noble up on Academy and Briargate.
I swear I don’t have a thing for baristas. Those baristas were just rather nice.
I miss the people I can’t find online, that I can’t talk to from here, can’t even stalk. I miss the I-25 and the drive from 19th street to Mesa Rd to Garden of the Gods and then further north, always north, drive until Centennial curves and I then barrel east on Woodmen to suburbia. To the strip malls that are inexplicably relentlessly comforting.
You know, I’ve been either in a state of missing Colorado and headed to Colorado soon or in Colorado, blessedly in Colorado, since 2006. But now I’m only missing the place, with no plans to return, no idea when I’ll land in El Paso County again.
Corporate life is unexpectedly soothing. I’m seasonly employed by a financial management company that is owned by a big time bank and I thought I would hate it, that I’d grit my teeth in my attempt to pad my savings, attempt to throw some money at my loans, but I’m not gritting my teeth. Not at all. In fact, it’s calming. It’s the most calming job I’ve had and somehow my copy writing and copy editing and web design and all that jazz experience has already been of unexpected use. My primary task is database clean up–that’s why I was hired, that’s my real deal task. So the surprise of playing with words and images paired with the surprise of how freaking nice everyone is, how the soft hum of the 11th floor calms my nerves, how the escape from my frazzled writing space is a welcome moment of my day–I didn’t expect any of this. I didn’t expect my summer to be this way.
Maybe academia and creatives lend a more chaotic workspace. Maybe I’ll feel differently about the lure and clickty clackty and foreign language of finances by August. Maybe the calm will turn into a dull. I’m not even saying I prefer it to my usual gig. I’m in no way saying I’d want to remain in the long-open-shared-whatever cubicle desk forever and ever and ever. Hell no. I’m only surprised. Relieved. The paychecks are exceptionally nice.
I also didn’t expect to take a knife to my manuscript and cut the last 10,000 words and start out to wholly rewrite the end. But so it goes. I am. I knew I was doing a revision and revisions seem to typically turn into rewrites for me. So why am I even surprised?
The sky is white and warm and thick. I feel like I should do something to celebrate the solstice, but summer has never been my season. Never inspired me. Not the least bit invigorating. Summer makes me sluggish and weepy. Winter solstice is what sets my fire. When I take deep breaths and light candles and write lists and bake crazy chocolate cakes and don’t even mind when I wake to floods the next day. I never know what to do with summer. How to consider summer, but I’ve stopped hiding my legs. I miss ballet. This limbo zone is weird. Alaska. Is that even happening? I don’t think I’ll think of it as a real thing until I’m there. I don’t think I’ll realize I’m actually not returning to Colorado until I drop myself into Cold Country, scavenging a new life up there, so far removed.
This little blog has been back up and running now for over a year. Woohoo?
Summer solstice. I suppose I’ll touch my toes.
It’s June, and it’s warm and, for the first time since I was thirteen, I’m allowing myself to leave the house with bare legs. No tights. Just my skin. Me. A friend I’ve known for years acknowledged his seeing my legs for the first time. It’s funny how we, how I, get stuck in habits. Stuck in rules. Trying to embrace the heat, six months and I’m in the morning of Alaska’s freeze.
I’m in revisions again, like last summer. And the summer before that. If you’d told me last June that I’d scrape the last three month’s work and start over again in December, I would have laughed. Laughed and cried and, let’s be real, ultimately have believed you. This is how it goes. This is my life. My summers. Endless cycles of revisions. I don’t think I mind it. I’m behind. Always behind. But I’m trying to not force it. I’m trying to allow some personal kindness. I ran and ran for the last two years and it’s time to take it easy. It’s summer, right?
It’s June and I have a part time office job at a very corporate corporation because my TA stipend is far from comfortable living. I might also have a part time gig serving sushi. I like sushi. The free sushi would be swell. But working means less time for writing, less time for taking it easy, and I am employed and I do have an annual salary type deal waiting, so is serving sushi necessary?
Maybe not. Probably not.
It’s Saturday, but it feels like Sunday. Lately every day feels like Sunday, even the days I go into the glossy tall office. In this house, my parents’ house, music always plays. Someone is always in the pool. Spiked drinks in sweaty mason jars with neon straws. Everyone home. Visitors from New York and New Jersey and Australia. Me, inside, reading a book a day, claiming I’m writing, revising, but really in one of those slumpy periods where I’m at a loss as to attempt to make the book better, so I talk to my dog and stretch and read instead. I’ll figure it out eventually. I hope so at least.
It’s June and it’s kind of summertime, and somedays it feels like I never went to Colorado at all, that I’ve been sprawled out on my parents’ living room floor all along. Almost 23. Where did the decade go? In August, I’ll go incognito, transition 100% to myhaecceitywhatever. My solution to feeling over exposed. My solution to having students and not wanting to be so terribly accessible online via Google.
I should speedwrite or freewrite or do something. Try to find my ending. The end. Do you have an ending I can borrow? Or, no, that’s not true. I know my ending. I know it, but not well enough to make the final jump, not well enough to understand how the logistics play out.
It’s June. I think I’ll make a Pimm’s cup.
I am no longer in Colorado.
Tuesday + Wednesday + Thursday = 3 tanks of gas.
I am no longer in Colorado.
From brightbrightbright Colorado Springs down into the brick of Trinidad, where just outside on the 25 I supposedly raced with a military boy in a Mustang but I didn’t know we were racing until after the fact in the parking lot of a Safeway and he said thanks for the entertainment during the dull stretch.
DULL STRETCH? Dull stretch? What a fool. The pastel mesas and cracked land and burnt ridges, the suddenly changing slopes. Cross the border into New Mexico and the black skeleton trees and charcoal flats of burnt Raton Pass. The caramel plains evening out only to curve into the bends and endless pinon trees. Sunset. Blinded by my dirty windshield. A night in Santa Fe. A day sweeping across the quiet desert. Hot and numb, a cocoon, until we found the smoke of the Slide Fire. Poor northern Arizona. Flagstaff choked by fiery hot clouds.
And then, the final leg, the white Mojave. My sister complained because I didn’t let her drive once the entire 22 hour drive. And even on that last day, sick with a cold of doom, eyes tired from days of road staring, the empty desert so pale, I wanted to drive. I needed to drive. My way of saying goodbye. Of leaving Colorado. And it’s like I blinked and I was driving through an afternoon rain storm into the Angels National Forest, almost home. Home. This home. Colorado was home. Is home. This has always been home. Soon Alaska will be a home too. I hope so at least.
I’m no longer in Colorado. It kind of hurts.