It only took two steps before a doorframe broke my fall. Two more steps before my legendary grace and poise were manifested in near disaster amidst a room full of strangers. Thankfully a set of bleachers intervened before I was fully parallel to the floor. I adjusted my center of gravity and delicately placed my weight back on the wheels I had inexplicably strapped to my feet. My earlier enthusiasm and bravery were long ago consumed by the sheer concentration it took not to fall on my face. Just as I found my balance, the color drained from the room. My gaze slid from the floor, tracking each new addition to the battalion swaggering around the rink. The thrum of skates against the arena was at once both entrancing and formidable. Beginners they said. No experience they said. That is not what I saw. What faced me was the most intimidating, humbling moment of my recent existence.
Some days seem more important than others. There are days we remember with complete clarity, days we capture in pictures and stories: first days of school; first time driving a car. First days of college. First days of work. The first time we fall in love. Today was one of those days. Today, for the first time, I walked through the door of a house that belongs to me. Today, I became a homeowner.
After a month of frantic paperwork and a day of impatient waiting, I found myself sitting on the floor of my empty living room drinking celebratory champagne out of a paper coffee cup. In this quiet moment of joy, I have never felt more loved.
Monday was the day the universe tried to swallow me. It came in slyly – appearing first as the insulated silence of the middle distance. I could feel a great cacophony of sound and chaos building just outside my peripheral vision, but the lacuna had my rapt attention. The cursor blinked ceaselessly before me. Blink. Blink. Blink. Mesmerizing.
All at once, my throat caught and panic slipped across my mind. Reality crashed in around me. Just for a second. Then, focus. My eyes found the monitor in front of me and I was once again alone in a quiet office. The clock barely ticked past 7.30, and I knew it was only a matter of time before the panic I felt appeared in the form of coworkers and deadlines. One breath in, one breath out.
That was the same day I decided things needed to change.
When my coworkers ask me how my race went last weekend, I tell them it went well. I tell them I’m surprised I’m not more sore. I tell them the course was hard, and I didn’t quite make my time, but that’s okay. I tell them Yellowstone was beautiful. When I first sat down to write this blog post on Monday, I built such pretty structures to tell you how much I learned and how this race was a profound metaphor for my life. But in the end, the reality is far less appealing.
There is something humble about the way you sneak into my life every day. A fleeting glimpse of the Space Needle out the bus window. The tap-tap-tap of a queen’s confident stride down a 2am street. A dazzle of pink spreading across the mountain-tipped sunrise. You slide unassumingly into my morning smile as I remember: I live here.
To think that it’s been a year already. A year of Orca Cards and coffee shops. Of library books and houseplants. Turbulant cycles of summer and rain. Every day I wake up feeling privledged. My morning tea comes wrapped in a felicitous notion of belonging.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved a city before. The picturesque cobbles of an old English town and the tolling of bells hung high in a Minster. There I learned how to live. I learned how to break my heart, how to forget. But here, with you Seattle, I’m learning to be. Just to be. Nothing more complicated.
Today is the 102nd day of 2017. In that time, I’ve written a measly two blog posts. Two. That means there have been 100 days this year that I haven’t posted anything. What a sad state. I had grand intentions of spending more time writing this year. Not only did I want to continue my passion for personal blogging, but also to explore the realm of short stories and poetry. Instead, I haven’t.
There are plenty of reasons why this is the case. If I am totally honest, none of them stands up to scrutiny. No matter how well-defended or how deeply felt, they are at their core just excuses. Here are a few of my favorites:
The United States is going through an identity crisis. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s going through an increasingly intense cultural shouting match. The narrative of “us vs. them” has seeped into everyday life; both my news and my newsfeed are consumed by divisiveness. Outrage is ubiquitous. Political decisions are followed by opinion pieces are followed by protests are followed by Facebook posts. We have reached a point where nearly everyone is angry or afraid or ashamed. No one feels represented. No one feels protected. Even if you personally don’t feel endangered, this cultural antagonism threatens something vital in us all. This feeling isn’t specific to one group – both liberals and conservatives see their values under attack.
All politics aside, one thing is clear: something is happening.