Obsessed / Blessed

I am giddy just considering my life’s events of the last 48 hours. So many women who absolutely fill me up til I’m dripping love from my fingertips and earlobes, who give me apples and Cliff Bars and necklaces from my mama for the road, who validate me in a way that is so genuine and real.

After Saturday’s bout of shaking anxiety, I landed in hand after hand that pressed me with love and You Are Okay Vibes.

First all my pseudo sisters, Sho’s family and my baby niece. One of my favorite moments was when I was washing dishes from the dinner two sisters made, their first time hosting in their new rental house. They have empathy and meditative and kindness reminders posted all over, just like my aunties do, and I looked at them as I heard laughter and voices from the living room, as as Sho put Baby to bed upstairs, and the warm soapy water and repetitive nature of washing all wrapped me up and filled my pores and I Was So Home.

They love my dog and treat her quirks as quirks and we fit all of us into a tiny perfect space. French braided and read our poetry aloud. There is such a power that comes from being with Women.

Then saw Mom’s BFF since they were so young and her daughter that I’ve known and loved since she was born and I was rendered speechless with the immediate welcoming love that greeted me. I can’t pinpoint why it was so surprising and overwhelming – maybe because I am so rarely with people who have known me my entire life? Maybe because being in my home town felt warm again, for the very first time since my mother died there eight years ago? Maybe because now is a time when I feel so vulnerable, when I have literally nothing to offer anyone, as I drive across the country again just praying the car doesn’t break, and Still People Give.

From there, I drove to Detroit. The streets on the way in were so familiar and so foreign, burned out two story homes and new bars with murals – the city feels mine and Never Mine At All, the grit and dirt and streets and houses are so… they’re comforting. Never mind that the woman i was meeting, a close friend in undergrad that I haven’t seen since, was exactly as I expected and remembered: immediately radiating acceptance and warmth and joy, also showering me with grace and generosity, as we gave each other abridged versions of the last almost-decade of life.

And from her, and the night, I quickly realized that I think the time between now and Mexico City, when I need to save enough to pay off a credit card and sustain a few months without work in a foreign country and wait for my new passport… that I think it’s pretty clear I need to spend those months In Detroit, an I’m really fucking excited about it.

Yeah IDK

I woke up shocked that it’s possible to have this much anxiety with my life as free as it is. Legit confused, and angry at myself for having anxiety when I have nothing that can give me anxiety.

And what’s sillier is that it took me until now, four pm, to write it out and chuckle to myself. Remember how I don’t have a job? And my dog is getting stranger and stranger with all the transition and new people; her erratic behavior has me on edge. And I have no income. And I am starting a creative project that I am fighting embarrassment of –

I didn’t really process how much of myself I critique through some Hypothetical Other who thinks I’m an idiot.

I went to a baby shower for a friend from undergrad today. She has always been excessively kind and wonderful and warm to me, and yet I spent a full hour trying to settle my breathing, talking to myself as I showered, found clothes that were nowhere near feminine or nice enough to fit in, and gathered the gift. I ended up 20 minutes late, which made absolutely no difference for the event but had me clenching my teeth on the way in regardless.

Today’s reminder from the universe that I Am Okay was going to the coffee shop a mile from auntie’s for a cold brew before the drive to Traverse City and seeing another friend from undergrad behind the counter. She remembered me by name and we chatted about life and artistic endeavors and she radiated a warmth and safety I desperately needed in that moment (thanks, girl!)

I am expecting my 30s to be easier. This first two months has felt like someone picked me up by my feet and hasn’t turned me right side up yet. I am being stubborn as fuck about finding work: I’m Not Even Looking. I’m both paralyzed by the fact that I have no income AND heels in the ground determined to not do something just because it’s there, just because it’s reasonable. I am at some mental crossroads that right now is a mix between a dust storm and a hurricane.

Caroline, the fuck you doing?

Okay Everything

I Studied Art for four years in undergrad, starting with still lives drawn in pen that I loved and ending with design work I literally fought with my professors to get credit for. I chose graphic design because it was the most practical art degree and I finished graphic design, after numerous attempts at dropping out, with a lot of resentment, and shitty portfolio, zero desire to ever do graphic design ever again for thee rest of my god given life, and my dead mother's voice of reason repeating endlessly in my head: Just get your degree, Caroline, and get out.

I guess she knew that, given the opportunity, I would have stayed in undergrad forever.

Now the residue from that "Education" lingers as a desperate craving to create with a paranoid nagging to Edit, to Focus on Craftsmanship, to Obsess Endlessly. I am perpetually torn between freely creating, allowing the process to be the product, living by the words my 9 year old cousin said while we were painting together this weekend, "the mistakes make it authentic" AND/OR putting compulsive detail and attention into everything I do. Fine tuning and hoarding the test runs until something glorious and worthwhile pops out, like a perfect Art Baby everyone wants to cradle in their ams.

It's bullshit. Art is bullshit. I somehow have landed in the perfect artistic cliche: I quit my job and was immediately compelled to paint, to put my poetry into hand crafted books, to create a website, to Create and at the same time I have my 12 year old cousin reminding me I Am Living In My Aunt's Basement (though this truth definitely makes me laugh hysterically every time he says it).

I get that it's a balance, that everything is a balance.

Right now this okay everything bullshit is – well every time I start tearing myself down I legitimately just look at the title. It's everything meaning I can stop hating myself every time my poetry pages aren't totally aligned, can stop beating myself up for painting canvas after canvas in faded pastels with the same word over and over, and I can be fine with the fact that the work I'm doing (crochet, poetry, painting) doesn't feel like a cohesive body. It's just everything. It just is. And all of that is okay. Living in my aunt's basement is okay.

What's ridiculous is that Deep In My Heart Of Hearts I feel good about what I'm doing. Trying to be extra cognizant of the resources I'm mooching from others… but is it that terrible to take a few months off after being utterly obsessed with work? After losing while chunks of my identity to –

Whatever. I don't need to justify this! That's the point! It's not an either/or and it's not a I did this so now I get to do this. No. It just is. Everything is okay. Okay everything.

Leaving / Arriving

My car is packed, again. It took four beers and a few hours to move all my shit from the Denver apartment to the Volvo S60. The gratitude I have for the fact that nothing busted or popped or went awry on the 16 hour drive here, to Michigan, is enormous.

At 6am, I met Katie for coffee and a croissant at a shop in Denver. It was like any other morning – our habit has been to meet up sporadically through the day: a morning breakfast; a work day coffee break; after work tv show and dinner; a vodka-something at night. Often I would meet her multiple times a day, in intervals. My heart is aching thinking about it, wondering if in another three years we will magically arrive in the same city, at the same time, with the same deep rooted friendship. I miss her.

I drove 16 hours with Blue (now half-the-time-called-Azul) through new parts of the country: Nebraska, Iowa, the same Illinois, the little bit of Indiana, then I-94 and the Oakland exit to Kalamazoo. I'm here.

Blue/Azul and I walked in the back door, made it halfway down the basement steps before both of aunties dogs were up and barking. A quick hug and I popped downstairs so she can sleep and I can try to calm my mind.

I love these long drives during transition. The first was Michigan to Mississippi, and since its been a long list of day long drives between major phases of life. Today the hours skipped ahead – by the time I was two hours from Auntie's I was nervous for it to end. I was unprepared. I was already nostalgic for the wide highways a orange full moon.

Recently I said to a friend, I like the weight of you, and he said I like the double meaning in that, and I can't get it out of my head. It's how I feel about Michigan: the weight of it.

I feel warm and familiar and wrapped up and loved. I feel secure and confident and like I know my way around emotionally and physically and geographically. I grew up in this city as much as my hometown; I lived here for five years. The weight of it a thick, cocooning blanket. A humid cloud hovering.

And yet, the weight of it has me immediately crying. I feel my mother here. She is all over this house, in photos and in footsteps and in the backyard. She's in the driveway and on the couch and in the bed beside Auntie. She has a glass of pink wine in the kitchen and she's sitting in front of a Christmas tree. Shes vibrating with anticipation for the drive and ferry to Beaver Island (where Auntie and I are going in a few days). She's walking the dog down the street; she'll be back in a minute, or an hour, or never.

I wish my mom was here, to celebrate her birthday. To meet my dog. To yell at me for not having a job. To help me figure out money. To hug me and try to get me to talk. I wish I had gotten more advice from her when I could, I wish I –

The weight of it, with family and familiarity and history comes expectations, and pressure, and a person looking at you remembering your birth and your adolescence and your emerging adulthood all at once. Being with an Auntie who knows me probably better than I know me. It's important, and I'm grateful, and it's heavy.

I can't wait to wake up in the morning and see the garden with a cup of coffee. To go running with my dog through the woods down the street, to apply for a few part time jobs and for my passport to be renewed. This is healthy and happy and love. I didn't know any of this was in my system until I started writing. I am so grateful to be here.

New Life

I woke up incredibly disoriented. Where am I? Where was I? What am I doing, what am I late for, what am I supposed to be doing?

I've been sleeping on a twin air mattress in Em's living room for two nights, my dog joins me every few hours, sometimes curled under the blankets, other times stretched across the carpet. I love her. I miss her already and she's right in front of me. I feel guilty and nostalgic for months when she lived in the same place, with the same walk, and the same food. Three days in a row I've given her Dog Xanax and watched her become a muted version of herself, to stop the shaking, to calm her down. I wonder if I'm fit to take care of a dog. I wonder if I should be searching for a long term foster, if I should Give Her Away.

Today I finished a scarf and almost finished another. I created two prototype books of poetry for the Magic Surprise that is on its way. I spent money at a thrift store and more money at a craft store and wondered if anyone will ever buy My Art. Is that a thing I have?

In the evening we got horrible news and I watched it come out through thumbs pushing, through labored breathing, through tears and tears. We had a bonfire and put it out. We sat together and laughed. We were human.

I am stuck in a place – incredibly free and terribly lost.

And I wanted to say something about men, the patterns I have, how much I love art pouring through fingers and souls; how much I'm drawn to the Not Quite Traditional, how I love the people that make me ask questions, how good I am at listening to lectures, or pretending to listen. How Good Kissers are the end all be all for my mental clarity.

…and if I stopped that? And if I looked at what's in front of me and realized He never asked questions and remembered He isn't really interested and owned up to the fact that I was just there; I just showed up; I could have been anyone and he would have behaved the same. Why does everything feel repeated? Why does no one feel like they are uniquely responding to Me?

I talked to a man about children and realized how much disbelief I hold that I will ever find someone to co-parent with. He asked me if a move would need to be to a place where I could Find Someone and all I could repeat is I lived in Arkansas for six years. No, I am not trying to Find Someone. There is no one to find. I am fickle, I am demanding, I am adventurous, I am eager, I am always racing against myself in an exhausting race. No one knows why I'm running. No one asks questions. I think they're scared of me. I think I'm not attractive? I think that I am one charge of magnet and everyone else is the other, forever some satisfying bubble between us, forever no potential to stick.

An interesting thing is what happened when I shaved my head: less interest, less attention, less conversation. I think people are afraid of me; I think people are intimidated by me; I think I am breaking some expectation and no one knows how to cross the glass. Maybe no one wants to?

I am here. I will shave it again. I still like your fingers on my neck, I still like your voice swimming through thunderstorms, I still listen. I believe that most of the time I could be replaced by anyone else and it wouldn't make a difference.

I'm 30, is what I said sobbing to Sally in the airport, I'm supposed to have my life together – something I didn't even know I believed, something I didn't even realize I was worried about. I'm living off of other peoples' kindness. I have no interest in Finding A Job. I do not think – I just don't know what's coming.

I'm content here, just Learning A New Existence. Just hanging with myself.

Okay

I have been in the states for two full days, and I feel whole.

On the long way home, on two or three hours of sleep, convinced I had a mild fever and a cough reminiscent of my old chronic bronchitis, I called Sally. She said, "Caroline, are you okay?" "I'm sick." "Yes, but are you okay? Your voice sounds strained…" and I burst into tears, they poured off and on through the entire next flight, journaling page after page.

The flight attendant on my second flight, who's name I don't know: I ordered a vodka ginger ale and held up my card.

I got you girl, he smiled

I burst into tears again. A minute later I heard a man's voice behind me asking if there were cough drops available, not for him, for me. It wasn't a nice kind of question.

I have a little bit of money and a lot of energy. Having no job, no home, no strings except the most beautiful dog who takes me running and curls into me at night – I expected it to be more scary than this, but no. There are so many people to take care of me.

First Katie, picking me up from the airport and putting me into bed, surrounding me with dogs, driving 15 minutes out of the way so I can have an egg mcmuffin at midnight, going to our favorite diner in the morning.

In a fit of financial terror, and because I know I want to move far and pack lightly (again), I sold my library on Facebook. In 12 hours I made a sizeable lump and felt my heart warm with the loves I get to distribute my favorite possessions to. I posted a whole ton of shit on Poshmark; I put my furniture on Facebook. This is real.

Then Em, my heart swelling being in her presence. The creative energy palpable. I came here yesterday and already have such a sadness to go. Her most perfect house, her calm kindness, her excited crafts, her plans on plans. In her home my dog and I are safe and loved. In her home I can have no job, can paint and paint, can study Spanish for two hours in the morning, can go for a three-and-a-half-mile run around the park nearby.

I am savoring, savoring. I am so blessed. I am so loved.

There is magic coming. I am inspired and energetic and for the first time in so long I'm Not Tired. Last night I felt like a child on Christmas Eve, down to sleep by 11:15 but a racing mind under after three: I journaled, I read, I brainstormed, I redownloaded duolingo.

I have goals and ideas and energy.
Something is going to happen.

(PS Logistics: started Celexa more regularly again, started a face routine to get rid of the acne I acquired in Mexico, am extremely serious about moving to Mexico City. Yes.)

My Summer Vacation

It's 4:24am and I can't sleep despite all efforts. I'm drinking gin and listening to east coast rap waiting for an appropriate time to get off this IKEA couch and find some coffee.

This trip is everything.

I am and have been struggling to determine What Happens When Caroline Is 30. We know she quits her job, she shaves her head, she gets a handful of new tattoos, she pierces her nose, she goes to Central America. She brags.

I cannot understand or believe how my life worked out so that I got invited on a backpacking trip as a fourth wheel to three best friends, my only connection being One Day In LA with one of them. Why have I been blessed so? Why did Martin determine I was a person worth inviting? It's a pretty serious What The Fuck situation, like the time I moved to rural Arkansas and the time I quit Graphic Design cold turkey.

I've been told this is liberating and it is. I feel no commitments to anyone. I feel largely lethargic and ambiguous about most of my life. I feel vaguely interested in determining what to do aside from outstay my welcome on couches I can't sleep on. I feel vaguely compelled to start Doing Art (the fuck is Doing Art? Also how long have I talked about that same compulsion? idk, 10 years. Shrug.)

I don't understand how, but I've fallen in love with all these people I've been traveling with. We've cried together so much the past few days, reminiscing and fearing Deaths of all these People We Love. Here comes August (the birthday of the dead mother) and then follows September (the deathday of the dead mother) and that means that starting about two weeks ago I go into a bit of a frenzy, remembering and not remembering and talking and not talking.

I'm in a blissful haze of my body refusing to sleep and savoring these last few hours. I loved Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica. But y'all, Cuidad de Fucking Mexico: I'm moving here.

I decided. Might take a hot minute to actually happen, but real talk: Caroline will be living in Mexico shortly. ✌🏻