Saturday, May 23, 2015

I'm sitting on a couch in the walkout basement apartment of a cute little house on Denver Street in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I'm smiling because this street in the place where I used to live shares a name with the city where I was born, and my dream is for everything and everyone I love to collapse time and distance, merge into each other like a double exposure, except I would need a quintuple exposure: Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Colorado, New York City, Buenos Aires. My heart just gets spread farther and wider the older I get, and it's hard to sustain. Today I walked into a grocery story and cried because I missed it. Just a grocery store. Smith's. Which is Utah's name for its Kroger owned store. But it's the first grocery store I ever went to when I moved here in August 2010 with my then boyfriend. We talked to the deli meats guy. He told us things about Salt Lake that I forget by now. I spent so much time in that grocery store because I didn't have that much else to do here, and I was miserable, and sometimes I would just go there and call my best friend from home and walk around the aisles and talk to her, and usually she'd be at a grocery store, too, because that's what we did. We called each other from grocery stores and then never found what we wanted to buy because we weren't focused. I think I accidentally spent 30 minutes wandering the tampon aisle once because of this. I bought a bright yellow teapot at Smith's. I still have it. I bought so much terrible food at Smith's. Sugar cereal, buffalo wing flavored potato chips, candy, ice cream, 6 packs of krispy kreme donuts. This town saw the worst of me. Old me would have rolled her eyes so hard at new me today when I bought vegan wraps, spinach, yogurt, granola, berries, cold pressed juice, and veggie burgers. I embarrass myself anew every day. Like when I sobbed two days ago because I hated my new hair because I've never dyed my hair and now I let my stylist talk me into doing a balayage but now I actually like it and walk around smiling like a fool.

The dog is sleeping at my feet. We drove here yesterday. It was a gorgeous drive. Desert. Mountains. Low hanging clouds. Bursts of rain. Driving up into the Salt Lake Valley always feels the same to me, no matter when I do it. Like I'm driving up to something unknown, passing all those brightly lit LDS churches in the distance, like beacons not meant for me. 

I'm meandering. I've spent the past nearly two months since I last posted just trying to navigate life. It's not be pleasant. I mean, there have been many wonderful moments. Mostly wonderful moments, actually. Just a lot of busy, too. I spent so much time preparing for qualifying exams, which I didn't ultimately have to take this semester, but which I might have had to take and had to wait till the last second to know about. I finished teaching my desert class. I revised my entire dissertation idea, which I'll comment on briefly soon, and that resulted in my needing to do a lot more reading and research and thinking. And in the midst of all of that, my very best friend lost her sister suddenly. The day after I last posted, in fact. And I've spent this time trying to think through how to be there for someone in these circumstance and how to feel about loss [again & again] and what emotions are helpful and what emotions are harmful. I've realized recently how important who I spend my time with is to me, and I'm learning the older I get to be more careful about where I go and what I do and with whom. Because some people are toxic, and they pull you away from yourself in the worst ways. And none of that has anything to do with this particular loss at all except that sometimes loss sheds light in corners you didn't except to look because suddenly, once again, you're seeing things more clearly, more painfully, and with sharper vision. These two ideas probably shouldn't be in the same paragraph, but I'd be lying if I said that my mind didn't connect them. Death is a shift in the tectonic plates of how we know ourselves, and my plates shifted is all. So my semester finally finished in a burst of sadness, reflection, relief, and resignation. But it's ok. Everything's ok. It always is. Like my dear friend Meg says, #EverybodysGonnaMakeIt. Even when they don't. 
My students

Anyway, one of my main adventures since March was AWP in Minneapolis where I got to see all my Utah friends, my best friend from college, and some of my LA friends. Two of my very best humans met each other, and I got to see my friends read and I got to buy way too many books [like $400 worth, I swear to god], and I got to see a little bit of this strange city in the middle of the country where bridges connect all the tall buildings downtown and you never have to go outside because it's basically the tundra and the hallways smell like Subway but the Guthrie and the Walker Art Center and the Mississippi River are all amazing. 

I've mostly been hanging out with these fools and playing with my Nikon.

I've been eating A LOT of dessert. Mostly with my partner in dessert crime, but sometimes when my neighbors bake me things and other times when I'm just out and want a treat. 

They painted the Bates Motel up the street from me completely white for an art piece called "Projection."

I got a little exploring done in LA even though I have no idea when I had time to do this.

Oh and my parents came to town last week and we rented an airbnb up the coast in Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara and just west of Ojai, so we explored all those places with my puppy. We ate a lot and played a lot of gin rummy and didn't get in any fights even though I am sometimes difficult to travel with because I am so used to being alone [and prefer it].
Our little weekend airbnb in Carpinteria.

The rest of my life has just been about working with Malta on her fear stuff; reading and thinking about my new dissertation project about interfaces, cities, street art, surveillance, and the materiality of language; hanging out with my neighbors; watching a lot of excellent TV shows; doing yoga; and reflecting a lot on where I'm at and where I'm going. More and more each day, I love my apartment, I love my apartment complex, I love my neighborhood, and I love Los Angeles. I love how comfortable I am there. I love my community, especially my dog commune of a living situation. I've been traveling much less and it's given me a chance to slow down and think about what matters to me. I think the thing that most stirs up my insides into an existential storm is not knowing where I'm going to end up. Because I am so ready to buy a house and live in a place and establish a life. Except that's ridiculous because I do live in a place and I have established a life, a life I love, so why do I feel like I'm waiting for something? Graduate school isn't permanent, and something inside me knows that and longs for the stability of a job. So many of my feelings are counter intuitive. I want roots, stability, a job, but I want adventure, travel, change. But I hate change. But I want to always be on the move. I tear myself in different directions, and it always gets worse at this time of year when I get to leave LA and decide how to spend my time. I inevitably always end up back in Colorado and then wish so badly that I could be ready to just move there for good. But if I did? I would miss LA terribly. I would think maybe I should be in Salt Lake where it's like a cheaper twilight zone version of Colorado. I would think, what city, what town in the world am I missing, what life am I missing, by choosing this? I have always been this way. Capable of loving where I am deeply while simultaneously longing for something else. Fortunately this longing never diminishes my experience wherever I am. If anything, it pulls me deeper into the moment because I know the moment is temporary. 

Why are you reading this? This is boring. Every once in awhile I just need to write all this stuff down. As usual, I wrote a way better version of this in my head while driving 500 miles on I-15 from LA to SLC yesterday because driving is my meditation. When I am driving, I am in that perfect state of being nowhere and having nothing, and so being everywhere and having everything. Sometimes I wonder when all this stuff in my heart will get too heavy to carry. All the people I've loved. And the places I've lived. It's getting harder to store them all inside me. I am making new room all the time, but when will I run out of space, or the desire to put forth the effort to pull things ever inward? Hopefully never. But I'm feeling tired lately. Heavy. Maybe that's just the result of another long winter. [Yes, even LA has long winters. Winter doesn't mean snow. It means darkness.] My greatest regret in life is that I can't be a ghost, that I can't haunt anyone or anything, that I can't be everywhere at once, that I can't put some of this weight on someone else for awhile. 

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