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?

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.

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. ✌🏻

My Future Job

I didn't mean to, but I made a huge mistake yesterday: I started thinking about real life while on vacation.

Right now I'm in what feels like a life hiatus, or some kind of sabbatical from reality, or an adolescent dragging of the feet, or anxiety paralysis, or a YOLO complex, or a standard American millennial work crisis.

When I return to the states in six days I have no job, no place to live, and a dog to take care of.

I thought that institute might open doors and present my future openly to me. I applied for one job as a result but have heard zero back, a text to the Executive Director unanswered, and the lack of response having me wonder if I even want to be on that team.

I've thought about spending a semester getting fancy English-teacher certified and applying to work abroad. Issues: don't have the funding for the program and don't have a huge desire to teach abroad (live abroad, yes; yeah abroad, meh).

I've thought about applying to PhD or other additional degree programs. Issues: struggling to articulate the research I want to do, feeling inadequate in general, no desire to study for or take the GRE…

I had a fleeting thought to go to cosmetology school, something I've wanted to do since I was really little. But where would I go? How would I fund it? And do I want to be part of that scene in general…?

There's also the more beautiful thoughts, like Is now a time to focus on crafting and art, after abandoning it for so long? And Do I have any skill or ability I can market and capitalize on independently? And How can I be creative now before getting trapped in another job? And What do I love? What do I WANT?

It's a millennial problem, right? To know I have skills and two degrees and family and friends and professional networks to lean on, but still feel utterly professionally lost. My life until last summer had such an even path, my finances are mediocre at least, I know I have an Extremely Privileged Life. I want to be careful to own the feelings an uncertainty and worry I have while recognizing the ridiculous about of privilege I have in my hands.

So right now… if anyone has

  1. ideas for simple work that I could do, especially temp and/or art based, ideally in a city
  2. An inexpensive place where I and my pooch can live
  3. A really great life plan or a desire to life coach me for free (😜)
  4. A personal story of a similar time/ situation you've had in life and how you got through it

…it would be greatly appreciated.

For now, enjoying a home cooked dinner in our hostel in San Jose, refusing to worry. ❤️

HealĀ 

I hold / my palm against the sun and don’t see / palm or sun, don’t hold anything / in either hand.

Reginald Shepherd, Hesitation Theory

Today on my flight from Memphis to Denver I tried a thing where I’m actually honest with myself in my journal. In my journal. I will be 30 in something like three weeks and there are many, many things that I will not even write to myself in a stack of paper that will do nothing but sit on a shelf for years, or go to a dumpster, or if particularly fiesty will be mailed to an ex or a best friend with a geographic distance far enough away to excuse the intimacy. 

Why is this?

I have had off and on nausea for months. Brittany, in our week together, has gotten into the habit of praising me for eating because (surprise!) it’s still hard for me to do. I’ve learned I eat best in social circumstances; I sometimes wake up ravenously hungry; if I drink coffee first thing I feel sicker through the day. 

Last week I fainted for the first time, while my friend’s daughter got ready to take our photo. I stayed at the house an hour longer than I intended because I could not get off the floor. This is after I ate a full, social meal with her. Body, what in the fuck are you doing?

I remember once, in high school or undergrad, when a close friend was struggling with the connection between her mental and physical health. She fainted in my bathroom and I was scared to touch her, I yelled for my mother who sat with her while I stayed in my parents’ room, counting my breaths. I felt immediately that her faint was contagious and had to leave to prevent myself from doing the same. Fainting, I’ve decided, is terrifying and uncomfortable. It seems I’ve acquired a new thing to have empathy for. I am grateful I woke up to my friend grasping me tightly, rubbing my back and saying my name, telling me I was okay. I’m glad she caught me as I fell. 

I spent a week in Arkansas and Tennessee and North Carolina with women who have known me for sever years. It was like being with sisters, I felt wholly myself, I cried uncontrollably only once, I walked away feeling loved and still lost. 

Brittany talked a lot of seasons. The season she is in. The season I am in. I will be 30 soon and I am about to go work a job in which I will make twelve dollars an hour and I am being honest about that because How In The Fuck Does TFA Think That’s Okay. Then I’ll backpack Central America with basic strangers and then, surprise, I have ZERO AMOUNT OF A LIFE PLAN. 

Stress, what is stress?

Anxiety, who has that?

You think I shaved my head because I fear I have no control of my life and I needed a physical symbol of the limited locus of control I actually do hold over my life? You’ve got to be kidding. All of this is totally fine. I look edgy, and lipstick looks better on me now. 

I’m exhausted. I am looking forward to being in one city, in one state, for six solid weeks. I am looking forward to removing certain opportunities from my reach, and for bringing the love and energy of my peers in TFA into my every day. 

I saw my dad for a long breakfast. I watched The Bachelorette and want to write a 25 page essay about how much I Fucking Hate That It Exists. 

I need you to know I’m happy and calm and safe and fine and that transitions are not easy for any human being, no matter how adaptable and normal and healthy and adventurous you are. I want to sleep for weeks. I want to find a magic human who I feel I can be more honest with than my sham of a journal. I want someone to rub my hedgehog haircut incessantly without calling me a skinhead or asking if I’m a lesbian. I want to know what it is I am going to be and do and produce and feel without the messy process of getting there. 

It has been hard to write. As I read Jessi Klein’s book today her words resonated that when it is hard to write, it is because You Are Scared. Well, universe, I will tell you only if you promise to leave zero comments about how Brave and Strong and Other Bullshit Things that haayyyy yes I Am Scared of what in the hell a blank page of September is and has and will be. You’re welcome. I’ll keep ya posted. Happy Wednesday.