A year ago, I flew to LA from NYC to workshop a project at UCI, which was followed by a hair-raising production in Arkansas, which got me to move to Portland, OR instead of jumping ship.
Life’s a journey.
Date: April 26, 2015
Days Spent on Project: 796
Location: NW Portland, OR
Person I would have sent it to: That outdoor summer production of The Tempest that I agreed to “production design” back in 2013, ran on the back of interns. I’ve already thanked two of the main ones who helped me get that project up and running, and there was a third who was interesting to meet because of something entirely different.
The first week we worked together, Emily B. pulled me aside towards the end of one day and asked if she could possibly have one or two afternoons off at the end of the week. Being an unpaid intern, I didn’t feel it was right for me to say “No, don’t take other work that might pay you something.” So I told her it was okay. Then I asked her what her other job was.
She had been asked (and/or volunteered) to perform at one of Sleep No More’s holiday parties.
Hearing that, I said she should take as much time as she needed to pursue THAT opportunity
In exchange, and to thank me, she got me a free ticket for the evening. It ended up consisting of a picnic dinner, a pre-show show, unlimited drinks, a show, music, and then even more drinks on the rooftop of the McKittrick.
It was a lot of fun.
Working with Emily on that outdoor production was a nice experience, and I’m so glad she got me into the Sleep No More party scene.
Months later, after I worked the SNM Halloween party, I volunteered to work their New Year’s Eve party. Much to my surprise, Emily had also volunteered.
She was then a current student at a college in Virginia. I’m not actually sure when she was going to graduate. Maybe it happened by now? I don’t know if her endgame was to end up in New York, but it would be interesting to know what she chose to do after school.
Music I listened to while sewing: I’m listening to Max Elto this morning. Trying something new today, courtesy of Spotify.
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Having an interesting day today…
Two hours ago, I finished having a coffee meeting with someone who reached out to me on my work email. This guy is visiting Portland from NYC, ultimately looking for a job to help bring him here. I was upfront that we’re not looking to bring on new employees currently (and if I were, there are a few people that would get the job first having worked on an overhire basis for years), but that I do need to bring on additional help occasionaly throughout the season. In my email response, I did say that I had recently moved to Portland from NYC, less than a year ago.
We made plans to get coffee, so he could bend my ear about what it was like to leave New York and end up in Portland.
We talked for an hour and a half, although I’m not clear on what he wanted to hear from me. But listening to him speak, I thought I was staring at Me, albeit the Me from last year. Looking for a way out. Looking for a reason to leave. Looking for someone to give me a concrete excuse to pursue anything else.
And speaking to him, I realized one simple truth. I am thankful to be Here right now. Not necessarily physically here in Portland, but where I emotionally and mentally am now thanks to Portland.
Regardless of how I feel about what I do or am asked to do or the money I make or the opportunities I lack or the close friends that I miss, I am a different person. I’ve had over nine months of steady pay. I’ve had nine months of consistent employment. I’ve had nine months of constant human interaction at work. Nine months of producing work for theater.
It’s allowed me to sleep better, eat better, pay bills, read more, think more, slow down, calm down, think clearer, look inward, and re-evaluate.
It’s allowed me to refocus.
I told this guy that, ultimately, moving to Portland will be a big choice, a choice about refocusing your life back on yourself. It’s a big choice, because New York this ain’t, but it’s a choice that you have to make clearly if you want to get out of the rat race.
I’m not sure what he expected or wanted, but when we left the coffee shop I was suddenly thankful for these past nine months and the opportunity to think of myself- and treat myself- as a human being again and not a freelancer looking to survive.
I’m not sure- as I’ve said before- that Portland is my endgame, but it’s my Now until it’s time to move on.
And that clarity has been worth it.
Portland, if anything, has made me believe again that I’m worth something.