My one year anniversary of moving to Portland, Oregon.
Today is an important day.
Date: July 15, 2015
Days Spent on Project: 876
Location: NW Portland, OR
Person I would have sent it to: Even though today has a warm place in my heart and I’m feeling incredibly thankful and also introspective about what it means to celebrate one year of living anywhere new and undertaking a new adventure, I have to write these next two dedications.
Today’s crane will be for Jordan. I don’t even remember if that’s her name.
I’ll explain more tomorrow. The two of them were inseparable in real life and will remain so on this project.
Music I listened to while sewing: Fort Fairfield tonight.
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: One year ago, I woke up at 4am, after a taking a two hour nap in my empty Washington Heights apartment. I had seen Sleep No More the night prior- that was the last “thing” I had done in New York City, before cabbing it home, getting stuck in traffic, taking a detour through Harlem, and walking my dog around the neighborhood one last time. I had saved two seat cushions from the love seat that was now sitting next to a dumpster outside. I didn’t sleep much that night.
I showered. I dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt. I packed my toiletries and shut my one suitcase. My dog and I walked out the apartment door, took the elevator to the second floor, and taped my keys to the super’s door with a brief note. My dog and I walked out into the darkness out of the apartment building. I looked back and realized I no longer had a way back in. I didn’t have a place to live in New York City anymore. I was homeless in New York.
A car service pulled up a few minutes later, at 5am, and we drove off to JFK while New York was starting another day.
Hours later, my dog and I were standing in the middle of the Portland, Oregon airport on that ironically famous carpet, never having been to that city, but knowing that someone from the theater I’d be working at was scheduled to pick me up. Sometime.
In between noon of that day and 7pm when I finally passed out from exhaustion, I was bought lunch, handed a contract, given a short tour of the theater, shown the costume shop I’d be managing, and promptly told good luck. I took a few Instagram pictures with captions like “Where do I even start?” I honestly didn’t know.
I later woke up in the middle of the night, in a strange hotel, with no idea where I was or what I was doing there. It took me a few minutes to realize I was technically in a room in a city that was my new home. I was not a guest costume designer visiting a shop for a show. I was the shop manager now, and I’d be in working on 11 shows in the next 10 months.
If there ever was an opportunity for a New Beginning, it was then.
What got me about that day, and what still gets me, is that I left New York without saying goodbye to hardly anyone. When I shut that apartment door and walked out of the building and flew out of JFK, my time there was done and the City itself was already moving beyond me.
In eight years, did I leave a mark? No show I had designed or assisted on was currently running. None of my work was on display. I hadn’t written my name or left an imprint on anything tangible. I had come to New York by way of Connecitcut and of Louisville and of Chicago and of Gambier and of London and of Brownsburg, IN. My time was over. Someone would get off their own plane- or train or car or bus- and take my place at the table. My dreams had brought me there and Life was taking me elsewhere. it was time to go. Someone else needed my space, my apartment. The jobs I had agreed to do in the Fall were most likely already farmed out to other theater designers. It was time to go.
Only a few friends took the time to call or text with farewells. Did I leave a mark on them? They were each swept up in the waters of their own lives and struggles and work and errands. That I didn’t want to celebrate leaving was a question of time (I had less than two weeks to get gone!) and also emotion (I couldn’t believe it was happening) and also stupidity (It’s no big deal to move across the country to a new city that you’ve never even seen before at 35!). I didn’t think people would come to a farewell party. I didn’t think I was important enough for a last hurrah. I wanted to fade out for fear that I’d embarrass myself, or be stood up at my own party.
New York is an amazing city to survive in, and I did survive there- I didn’t live there- for eight years. I sadly didn’t make it to my tenth anniversary, when you unofficially become a “true New Yorker.” I miss its energy. It still feels like home. It still feels like there’s promise and opportunity there that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I cling to that idea. Still.
It does feels like home, even though I’ll be the first to admit that leaving it made me realize how much it was like an emotionally manipulative boyfriend at times.
But in the past year, as I’ve struggled to learn to live as someone who no longer freelances but is lucky enough to have a steady job and paycheck, my Life and my belief in Myself has grown immeasurably. New York had beaten that down to the point that I forgot who I was or why I was here of what I was worth. New York made me belief that I was lucky to get the scraps that fell down to me whenever someone allowed them to fall. Portland has helped me realize that I deserve a seat at the table, and that I can eat at my own damn plate and that I can choose to eat whatever I damn well please.
It’s not perfect, life in Portland. It isn’t. I’m sorry to admit that. I wanted it to be the answer.
But Portland is better than a lot. I was much worse. If it didn’t give me the answer, it helped me to ask the question again.
Why am I doing this? What do I deserve? Who do I want to be?
What do I want?
What do I want?
It’s okay to want things. It’s okay to belief that you can achieve those things.
And I’m aware more than ever that I’m still moving and growing and capable of so much. And Portland has taught me that have so much more work to do. (With my dog by my side, of course, because #codependency.) I could be good at this. No, I could be great at this. Why not?
But what do I want?
One year down, one year gone, one year past. So many more ahead.
Here we go.
To the journey, more than anything.