This has been A Year.
A year ago, I had just moved out of my apartment with my two kitties and was in the early stages of separation. A couple months later, everything had fallen down around my ears, and I was kicking rocks off my chest and smearing dust across my face. If I had to pick a word to sum up the last five years of my life, it would be toil.
If you consult my horoscope (heh), it would tell you that Saturn spent the last three years in my sign and that Saturn is the taskmaster. It would tell you that those three years were meant to teach me about work. Thanks, Saturn. Have I jumped through enough of your hoops yet?
I don’t know if I believe in horoscopes or any kind of divination to find a route through this chaotic world, but in the last month or so, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d smelled a whiff of something way more kismet-y than I normally would admit to.
For the last six years since moving to Maryland, I’ve consistently worked two full time jobs. Only one of those jobs paid me for all this time, but the other was where my heart lives. I’ve spent the last three years with my nose buckled down on that grindstone even harder, feverishly working to better my craft.
This year…well. So far it’s felt like getting on a Disney World ride blindfolded. Without seeing which ride it is. Am I going to spin around enough to barf? Will I need a neck brace after this? AM I IN THE SPLASH ZONE? WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL? *please please please ears, do not pick up the It’s A Small World song, please please please*
There have been a couple themes throughout this year, though, and I think they’re important enough to share.
This has probably been the biggest one for me. From coming to a place of acceptance of my sexuality to recentering on my most deeply rooted goals, this year has been one of removing masks and trying to get used to the feeling of air on my face. It’s good. It’s hard. It’s scary.
My focal point has been my career for a long stint now, and I’m still focusing hard on that. I’ve spent the last few months trying to figure out who I want to be as a writer, and I have to say that I am overjoyed I have an agent who is behind me ten thousand percent when it comes to allowing me the freedom to write the stories I want to tell.
(Happy belated Agents Day, Sara!)
Love Should Never Be A Cage
As I approach the finalising of my divorce, it’s probably a given that romance has taken a back seat this year. I’ve dated some, but I’ve mostly been concentrating on getting my own shit figured out before introducing someone else into that mix again. And now I’m in a pretty great place, which is wonderful. Not necessarily out searching for it, but if love falls into my lap, yay.
The biggest thing I’ve been pondering, though, is that heading of this section. Love should never be a cage. I think for both me and my ex, our marriage didn’t allow us to be our whole selves. We are still friendly, and it was as amicable a split as these things can possibly be, but when I think back on our marriage, both of us I think couldn’t quite move freely through the world as we wanted to.
Love should be something that pries open the bars, that sees the truest you and helps you be it with abandon. Whether romantic or filial love. No matter who your partner is, you should get to be your whole self with them. “Just be yourself” feels like advice that gets thrown around constantly, but it leaves out a lot of steps for that to happen. It takes a lot of time to find out who that self is, and people are not immutable objects frozen in stasis. We are dynamic. We change. We move.
No one is just one thing. I think as people we tend to put ourselves in boxes because other people put us in boxes, and it’s hard to kick the walls of those boxes down. Finding people who you can be yourself with is not usually an easy thing to do, but man, that’s the dream.
If I look ahead at whatever comes next, I hope to find someone who not only sees the same me I see and challenges me to be true to myself, but someone with curiosity about the world who wants to explore the experiences of that world with me.
I’ve also been having a significant volume of thought-wattage about the structure of relationships, the different ways people define successful relationships, and questioning what I would like future relationships to look like. On that note, there’s a lot of room for thought and growth.
Grown Up Decisions ™
For most of this year, I’ve been planning to pack up and move to California in July.
Then last week everything changed in forty-eight hours, and now I’m staying in Frederick.
California would have been my ninth US state. I’ve made a lot of big big moves before, but I’ve never changed my mind before on something this huge.
There were a lot of things that spurred it: a conversation with a Scottish friend, hearing from heaps of local friends that they wished I would stay, the thought of hauling my kitties across the country. With those three things jostling around in my head, I sat down for the first time to do the maths on comparing the cost of the move with staying. I knew I could afford to move, but I hadn’t yet calculated the benefits of staying. When I realised that staying would mean I could find an apartment, furnish it fully, pay off a small credit card, and still be relatively certain of financial solubility through the New Year? It hit the final nail right on the head and hammered it into the dense bedrock that is my skull.
Because last year was so trying, I realised I couldn’t take the chance of losing this early stability I have.
I decided I would stay. Doing so felt and feels like the right decision, and it’s one firmly established in the fact that there can be more than one right decision, more than one way to be true to your heart.
And that is when shit got crazy.
First thing that happened was I felt this enormous, overwhelming sense of relief. It was like someone had stuck an elephant to my back without me knowing and I took a corner quickly enough to dislodge the tape. I could stand up straight again. My vertebrae weren’t crunching together. I took a deep breath in, and it actually filled my lungs and oxygenated my blood.
Then I got a message from one of my closest friends saying she’s moving to Gaithersburg — twenty minutes from where I’ll be living. In the past seven years, I’ve never had one of my innermost circle in “hey, let’s get together and eat arbitrary caramels” distance. Just that thought of having her close makes me feel like I could burst. My closest friends for a long time have been scattered everywhere over the earth, in Scotland and Japan and Indiana and Tennessee. Now someone will be here, and I don’t even know what to do with myself. She’s my tree climbing buddy and my scotch-sipping pal, and I absolutely cannot wait for her to move in.
Then I found an apartment complex that was gorgeous, right in Frederick, and had lots of good floor plans. Oh, and they were having a move in special. On a two bedroom. On the ground floor so I can play Kinect Fruit Ninja until my arms and legs fall off without disturbing any neighbours below me. With $500 off the first month’s rent.
I got approved.
I’ve been commuting three hours each way on the MARC train for the last month. (Well, half hour driving to the train, two hours on the train, then a half hour metro ride.) It’s a long ass day, and most of the time, I’m in such hardcore decompression mode that I can’t use that time to write or even read. One day I breezed into the Union Station Moleskine store and met one of the folks who works there, who just moved to DC in January with his girlfriend. The store is now a pretty much daily howdy stop between points A-J on my long ass day. It’s nice to get a high five before I start the final journey home. And then there was this fellow commuter on my train with the most delightful tattoos and I managed to overcome my social anxiety to say hello, and suddenly boom. New friend. AWESOME new friend. Badassery level turned up to 11.
(I say suddenly, but that whole overcoming social anxiety thing took like three weeks. So there’s that. Go me. See, 12-year-old Emmie? You can talk to people and not have it be an unmitigated disaster.)
(Even writing about talking to strangers is making me nervous right now, and it’s not even something I am doing. It’s did. Past tense. Gah. My heart is thudding. Behold my stalwart bravery. I’ma go breathe into a bag and then hide.)
I got some secret good news. My cats are purring again. DC Con is in less than a month. My chainmaille is nearing completion. I’ve got projects queued up to work on this fall and will be doing nothing but writing full time, so I can actually do them. I’m about to get my first tattoos.
I spent most of last year picking through the rubble of my life.
I don’t know where the rest of this year will go, and I’m open to just checking it out.
But I think just maybe, JUST MAYBE, I’ve laid down a few bricks.
That’s a pretty damn good feeling to have.
How’s your 2015 going? Beat any killer robots yet? Ridden any dino-saurs? Visited any cool planets?
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