It’s been a good little bit since I last sat down here and wrote. Since National Letter Writing Month I believe! This year has absolutely flown by (is this how all the years will be from here on out?). Quite a lot and nothing much happened since. Which is a pretty boilerplate description of life in general. In the interim I went on an Alaskan Cruise with my Mom which was absolutely incredible (the Alaska part more than the cruise part). I’ve had a really lovely flurry of projects to work on this summer. But most importantly, it was my first actual full-on vacation since I went full-time in 2018. Now, I know everyone has a different calibration for how long is too long to go between vacations, but when you blow up your life and try and launch and grow a little baby business by your lonesome in your apartment, 1.5 years is a long ass time.
In Alaska I saw mammoth glaciers dressed in hundreds of shades of blue, some pulsating and bright, others forcing me to cobble together names (blue green brown and cloudy windex). I saw, and at such short distances, Stellar’s porpoise and humpback whales, even a puffin (unconfirmed. it was flying away from me while I was on a bus). Bald Eagles hung out in the towns like pigeons and sparrows do in my neck of the woods. Idly waiting between buildings. We went into the Yukon to kayak on a glacial lake and took a train back on an old mining track where some local had put little wood carvings in view for tourists to remark on. It was just totally lovely and I had the best time. I met my nephew, Sebastien who is incredibly cute and drooled all over me, and I was finally old enough and mature enough to love the leakage.
And it was a good pre-cursor to summer. AKA, the hardest season for my mental health. I knew there would be some fallout from my trip. But coming back from meeting my new family, from an epic trip where I dreamt about an alternate life as a wildlife guide in a place as gorgeous as Alaska (though it's also a serious possibility that only the young can really live on guide wages so perhaps it’s more like a revisionist history). The first few weeks back were understandably rough.
Before my trip, I was knocking tasks off my New Year's resolutions like brushing crumbs off a table. I was trying new projects, setting up new projects, learning new skills and generally really liking the way my inner businessman was looking in the inner dressing room mirror. And after every big event I had set up in 2019 there was that thunderbolt of joy going off in the background ('AND I get to go to freaking Alaska in __[insert amount of time]__') . Then I got back and things weren't particularly electric.
I started thinking about those time expectations. You know, the ones you can't exactly remember when and why you set? Sure I was on track, or ahead the first half of the year. But that was then, and what have I done for me lately? Suddenly those blurrily defined desires for myself and my year start to wear towards illegible. The demons in my head start to build to their catchy refrains. "Nothing's changed." "None of this matters." "You're not special and everyone pities you." And then, like clockwork, summer starts to get the best of me.
I only really put my finger on summer being my worst season a few years ago. It just seemed impossible to me, until I heard someone else say that summer's are hard for them. And like so many revelations I've had in my life, the second I heard it, I knew it was true for me, and always had been. Summer is the season of "should" for me. The simplest way to explain it is the beach.
In the summer, you say the sentence "I haven't even been to the beach yet." It's the only season (at least off the top of my head) where there's this expectation that you will do something social. There are cookouts, summer birthdays, holidays, the teachers are off, the city is subdued. But nothing is really different for me. When I served and now that I don't, my summer is just like the rest of the year. I work, in all my different ways towards my goals. Some of my work is constant and some of it comes all at once, hot and heavy.
This summer, I've been blessed to have lots of projects, and guess where I haven't been so far. But coming back from a bucket list trip to a magical, natural, wild place after meeting my sister's baby, you can bet I was way off center of the routines and mindsets I had been in before. First off, there's no trip to look forward to and to divide time up (before or after the trip). Secondly meeting a new family member makes me think about whether or not I'll have a family even though at this point that's relevant only to a point. Nevertheless, the "why's" and "what am I doings?" came thick and fast.
And it's only just now that I've remembered how to exist in this new forward thinking, optimistic let's just try it and see what happens lifestyle I've crafted for myself in 2019. So after a little working on remembering, I've decided to take a class at SVA here in New York this Fall, on cartooning, something I've been wanting to learn for a while. I'm going to visit Philadelphia and see if I like it. I'm going to apply to do Renegade in Seattle. I'm going to get back to the work of turning 2019 into a big, beautiful year. While not thinking, that if I don't, somehow I have failed. Which means I'll have plenty more to share with you soon.
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