Moving, Shifting, Changing: Welcoming 2018

huanchaco burger
One of my last days in Peru, at a burger joint in Huanchaco.

Welcome, 2018! I know this post is a bit late to the party since we’ve all been living this shiny new year for over a week now, but I’ve never been hugely punctual. It’s part of my dubious charm.


We all went through some crap in 2017. Our first year having a reality TV show celebrity known for his crassness and shady business dealings as the President of the US. Natural disasters that have made it seem, in the States at least, that the Apocalypse truly is nigh. Political and social unrest across the world, white supremacists coming out of the woodwork, threats to medical coverage and incomprehensible political machinations that seem to be systematically stripping the common people of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

cat collage
Cats of 2017, from Peru to Colorado to Washington.

That’s just on the big scale. I’ve talked to so many people who have gone through some wild and challenging events this last year, and I can include myself in that category. I came back from Peru and immediately started having symptoms analogous to PTSD. (I still can’t quite bring myself to say “I’ve experienced PTSD”, which is another exploration altogether.) I spent months crying in my teenage bedroom, completely unsure about myself, my direction, my life, my purpose, my existence. I spent months reconnecting with my mother. I traveled up and down the west coast volunteering at festivals and living out of the back of a truck with my partner. I lost myself for a while in my old life in rural Marysville, doing things and behaving like someone I used to be until a number of face-to-face confrontations with abuse, addiction, dishonesty, and disrespect made my eyes snap back into the open position.


Finally, at the end of 2017, I moved. Finally. FINALLY.

sushi bunk
Our bunk at a community house in Bellingham. If it looks chaotic, that’s because it is.


It’s a move I’d been needing for months, years even. A move out of separation and solitariness into connection and community. A move that has meant shedding layers, relationships, and situations that were keeping me heavy and blocked. It a shedding that is still very much in process, and which has brought up all sorts of feelings of being unworthy and unlovable. After all, even if my relationship with certain people was unhealthy, they were still my relationships. And, by virtue of having so few of these friendships, the ones I had seemed intractable and of enormous importance, even as they were deeply problematic.

You can never really tell what cards people are playing with, until they lay them down.

(I’m not saying friendship is unimportant. I’m saying that when you only have four or five people in your life, they take on more weight than any one person should ever have to carry. A situation which becomes especially detrimental when those relationships themselves are riddled with rust.)


Country living has its charm. Quiet nights, incredible views of the stars, daily visits by deer and hummingbirds. It can also be extremely isolating. When the nearest town is a twenty-minute drive and seems terminally devoid of all but the most struggling signs of community, it can be hard to maintain a sense of connection.

My new city is the opposite. (Except for the visits from the deer; they love downtown!) Full of vibrant people who bring themselves into the world through communion, through workshops, through discussion and communal living and art and poetry and D&D games and silliness and conflict resolution. There is part of me that asks myself to temper my response to this place, but there is a bigger part of me that says dig in, this is the good stuff.

travel collage
Oh yeah, we bought a motorhome. For one dollar.


I read a blog post recently from a woman who writes about her own experiences in community living. She expressed this feeling of bonelessness that comes from offering yourself to the world in the form of creative expression, allowing yourself to be vulnerable in a deep and very real way. On the other side of this jellied feeling there lays the possibility for breakthroughs. This feeling is a signpost that Big Magic is in the works.

I am not boneless, not now. But I feel the potentiality there, within my grasp. Here, I have access to people, structures, and thought patterns that make space for my own innovations and offerings—should I choose to do so. That part’s up to me.

May we all say yes to healthy vulnerability, discomfort, and breakthroughs a little (or a lot) more often in the coming year.


How To Go Back Without Going Backwards

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Me. 18. Mere minutes after getting my lower lip pierced.

I write this sitting in the bed I slept in when I was 16. Sitting in the room I lived in when I was 16. Staring out the window at the same view I saw when I was 16. I’m 31, now, but coming back to my parent’s house has forced me to look at many, many aspects of myself that I’d just as soon forget.


I just finished watching the first season of “No Tomorrow” (which I highly recommend, cheesy romance bits and all), and there’s a scene where the main female lead breaks things off with the main male lead because he won’t talk to his father. “I can’t be with someone who isn’t their whole self.” That struck a chord with me. I can’t BE someone who isn’t their whole self. I’m not willing to live a life unexamined, just because some of the really painful bits I’ve glossed over happened ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.

When I was considering coming here, instead of going to Seattle or South Carolina or wherever the hell else, I experienced a lot of anxiety. Was I admitting defeat? Was I returning to comfort for the sake of comfort? Would I fall back into those dark, angry patterns I grew so familiar with when I was a teenager?

Upon arrival, and for a couple weeks following, these thoughts plagued me. This room is even organized more or less the same way, with the dresser next to the window, the desk on the far wall. There are different things in the closet, different art on the walls. But the most important difference has nothing to do with the window dressing.

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Dug up from my ancient DeviantArt account

It’s me.


Yesterday, in search of collage material, I went through some files of old paperwork, school assignments, etc., that my mom had kept over the years. I found some startling things. A missing poster, that my mother made the second time I ran away from home. A letter, begging my parents to let me quit high school, written the day after my best friend came to me in the hallway and said, “You’ll never believe how many people don’t like you!” A scrapbook I made, half finished, with the last bit of paraphernalia a postcard that said I HATE EVERYONE.

Memories of my formative years, marked by pain. Feeling ostracized. Feeling unworthy. Feelings that have followed me, even as I’ve worked so hard to gloss over those years, put them in the past, let sleeping dogs lie. All that bullshit.

Because those sleeping dogs wake up. And sometimes they bite.

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Standing in my room. The flowers on the dresser are still on the dresser.


I also found, in those scraps of writing, a girl I recognize wholeheartedly. A biting wit that takes shit from no one. A strong sense of moral ground. A desire to be better, do better, share with the world. She wanted the same things I do, now, in many ways. “Inside you,” she (I) wrote, “is all the talent and ability you will ever need.” Which comes down to saying, “I am enough.

And I am. So are you.

And you.

And you.

I came back to my parent’s home for many reasons. To help my mom with the house. To gain wisdom, guidance, and companionship from my parents, my brothers, a few old friends. But mostly, I came back to put myself back together. To reunite with the girl I, too, set out in the cold.

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard as hell. But going back is the only way I’ve found that will allow me to move forward.

Here’s to you Caiti. Sara. Zandila. Eliza. Spiro. The girl with too many names.

You have a home here.

I’ve Gotta Work On My Timing

Flying over Colorado, looking at the snowdrifts on the empty plain.

I’m making myself a promise, here and now: the next time I return to the United States from a trip, I will not do it in January.

I repeat: I will not come back in January.

You’d think I might have learned the first time around, returning to the gray, wet winter of the Pacific Northwest after five months in India, the last month of which was spent on the steamy beaches of Goa. But, no, some lessons bear repeating.

I am back on United States soil, in Colorado, for the snowiest time of the year. Not the coldest, thank goodness, but when you’re comparing -6 Fahrenheit to 16 Fahrenheit, cold becomes varying degrees of oh-my-god-my-face-hurts.

There seems to be a purpose to the timing, though. I’ve been running away from home for years, as my mother pointed out to me recently. It started as a kid, 11, 12 years old, I think, when I first packed my bags and wandered into the wild blue yonder. I embarked on that expedition with three other girls my age whom, as I look back, I realize were integral in my development. We all had our troubles, which at that age we thought we could fix by completely avoiding. Something I think we all fall prey to, sometimes more often than not.

Sunsets. The one way in which Colorado has never disappointed me is the sunsets.

Needless to say, that foray ended quickly, and I was back home before the end of the day. I have this vision of me being let out of the cop car (sorry mom; sorry, papa) and crying as I ran to my parents. It wasn’t a comfortable, relieved kind of cry. More a panicked, what-the-fuck-have-I-done kind of cry. Regardless, I was home, and that was that for a few years.

Then came my turn to run away with the older boy. Also integral to my development, in different ways. Not nearly as short lived, and a whole lot more interesting.

You know, I sit here thinking about all the times I really have run away from home, and it makes me not want to think about it anymore. Or, at least not admit all those times to you. To myself. I kept leaving, over and over, trying to escape…what? Colorado, certainly. The dry air, the cold winters, the restrictive politics. The memories. The connections. The complications.

One can only run for so long, before they find themselves exhausted and, often, lost.

A lot has happened since I left Colorado for what I swore would be the last time. Marriage. Polyamory. Divorce. Mushrooms. God. Love. India. Love. Peru. Love. It’s a lot to process.

The one way in which Colorado never fails to disappoint me in is diving in the winter. Or, more accurately, not being able to drive in the winter.

So, I return to Colorado. To the house, and the room, and the family I have spent so much time away from. Now, in the middle of winter, that time of inwardness and reflection. I have practical reasons for being here, but they aren’t the reason I’m here.

Maybe it’s time for me to figure out how to leave, without running away.

And until then, I’ll just figure out how to stay warm.

Lovelovelove, lovelies.