How To Go Back Without Going Backwards

blog 10.2
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.

blog 10.3
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.

blog 10.1
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.

Take Your Shoes Off, Stay a While

 

blog-7-1
The front entryway in the little house that couldn’t

Home. The word is filled with so many connotations and expectations, many contradictory. For me, the idea of home conjure up feelings of security and belonging, which march hand in hand across my internal landscape with feelings of desperation and isolation.

 

 

blog-7-5
In my hammock at the Frog’s Chillhouse Hostel, Huanchaco, Trujillo, Peru

Looking back over my life I can see the times I’ve built a home, most notably with my former husband. We bought an adorable 1900’s era Craftsman about a mile from a developing downtown neighborhood. I loved that house, and for a while, I loved the life I lived in it. Dinner parties, two adorable cats, a husband I’d pledged my life to.

 

Not long after we moved in, however, the cracks around the seams began to show. They’d always been there, of course. The enormity of owning a house just made them a lot more visible.

 

blog-7-2
Next to the Ganges River, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

I have a nomadic spirit. I have a troubled and deepening relationship with that spirit. For a long time, I told myself I needed a solid, stable life. Once I got that, happiness and peace would blossom. What happened, instead, was that my need for travel, newness, and adventure got wind of my plans for living in one place for the foreseeable future and started throwing fits.

 

At first, this manifested as a sense of diffuse heaviness. I would walk around the house, touching the walls, looking at the art we’d so lovingly hung, and wonder why I felt out of place. Then came the depression, sneaky for a while, until I found myself sobbing underneath my desk at work, frantically dialing a hotline for help.

I went to therapy after that. That morning had shown me, without a doubt, that something was seriously off. I couldn’t fix it by myself. My husband was opposed to the idea. He took the mindset that we could figure out any problem, with either of us or the relationship, together. I persisted. Unfortunately, my therapist decided the cure for all that ailed me was for me to return to school.

 

blog-7-3
In the kitchen at the MWH community, Taray, Cusco, Peru

I stopped going after four appointments.

 

Eventually, my marriage ended, in large part to that pesky nomadic spirit. I crave not just new destinations, but new people, new relationships, new experiences. My former husband craves security, guarantees. It’s not wrong, I think, just different. We needed different things.

Going back further than the marriage, the house, I can look at my childhood. I never felt at home there, either. As the youngest child, sister to a pair of twins, I didn’t feel like I had a solid place in my family. I grew up in a city I never loved, never really wanted to be in. Colorado Springs was too cold, too dry, too narrow-minded, too full of big box stores and four lane streets for me to feel at home.

So, what does home mean to me, now? It’s hard to say with any certainty. As I travel, people ask me where I’m from. Outside Seattle is my default answer. If they probe further, which they sometimes do, and start on the subject of home my answer is always—given quickly—India. It is the place I felt most at peace in, most myself.

 

blog-7-4
Dirty, dirty feet in my apartment behind Goody Goody’s Cafe, Arambol Beach, Goa, India

This afternoon I stopped in San Blas plaza after I ate lunch to smoke a cigarette. I sat on the wall in front of the fountain and slipped off my hiking boots. When I was in Arambol, I hardly ever wore shoes, preferring to dart around town and hop on motorcycles with my feet exposed to the earth. I felt a glimmer of this connection as I sat there, enjoying the sun as it faded behind a threatening rain cloud. When I finished my cigarette, I picked up my boots and walked to my hostel, the soles of my feet eating up the cobblestone roads. During those few minutes, I felt taller, more confident, more connected than I have since I got to Peru.

 

So maybe that has something to do with home, for me: it’s where I feel comfortable taking my shoes off.

Two Months of Transitions, Chaos, Loss and Love

Author’s note: My other blog, Courage at the a crossroad, appears to have been eaten. Perhaps by my host, the gator. Who knows? I’ll take what the universe gives me, and use what I can. Which means the new blog is the current blog! Until further notice, at least. I’ll work on moving old posts over here when I’m not quite so annoyed with the whole thing.

Photo used under CC license from Paul Noble
Photo used under CC license from Paul Noble

It’s been over two months since my last entry. A lot, as is often the case, has happened. To sum things up a bit:

• I was ‘replaced’ at my place of employment. Which, honestly, was the best thing for both me and my employer. I hated it there, and while my boss was no cupcake either, there are certain types of people who will enjoy working for him. So, more power to them.

sarah me• Due to my newfound lack of employment, I moved out of my cute—if distressingly concrete bound—apartment, and in with Ina, in a great big house on some of the most beautiful land I’ve seen out here. Living together has been challenging, and incredibly rewarding, as we learn to communicate with each other, navigate space together, and recognize and establish personal boundaries necessary for our individual health and well being. (It’s very difficult not to just spend all our free time hanging out, despite knowing we need alone time and work time, as well. I know, terrible problem to have, eh?)

IMG_0490-0• My sweet Pi baby is missing, presumed eaten. Tomorrow marks the third week of her being gone. Moving out here, I made the decision to let both her and Pumpkin become indoor/outdoor cats, like Ina’s cat, Shadow. I knew the risks. I grew up with cats, some of which frolicked in the great outdoors. A number of which didn’t come back. I didn’t think I would have to face that risk so soon, but I console myself with the fact that she was fucking ecstatic to have had the time outside. That little girl brought down shrews, moles, mice, rabbits and at least one bird. I’m holding hope she’ll stumble home soon (any day, love, would be great), and I know that if she doesn’t at least she got a chance to live. I’d rather have that than wrapped-up safety, any day.

3563297783_1b5368fb35_z• Which segues nicely, if a bit morbidly, to my next bullet point: yesterday morning, still bleary eyed and needing coffee, I opened up an email from Hipmunk and found myself facing the lowest fares from Seattle to New Delhi I’d seen in weeks of scouring the internet. Twenty minutes later, I was booked on an Emirates flight to the Capital of India, arriving ten short days before my thirtieth birthday. Whoosh. I keep waiting for it to feel real. The closest thing I’m getting is a million tiny freak outs, every single day.

 

Dear reader,
I am terrified.

Not of India, necessarily, though pickpockets, inscrutable train systems, food poisoning and dodgy toilets aren’t exactly comforting thoughts. No, what I’m most scared of is myself. More specifically: can I do this? Without, you know, going crazy or buying an early return ticket or holing up in an ashram until it’s time for my flight home. Can I, physically and emotionally, keep up with the demands of my yoga teacher training course? Can I navigate through four months of culture shock, essentially alone? Most importantly, can I fit enough souvenirs in a 40L pack? Ha, yeah…

Look, I know this is something I want to do. In the deepest part of my heart I want to travel. See the world, experience as much as humanly possible of this insane, beautiful, out of control place we’ve been blessed with.

None of which makes me any less scared.

But it does make it possible.

Lovelovelove,

Sarah