TGIF, ladies and gentlemen.
Date: August 14, 2015
Days Spent on Project: 906
Location: NW Portland, OR
Person I would have sent it to: TBD
Music I listened to while sewing: Would you believe it if I told you that I was listening to the soundtrack for the Ken Burns doc “Jazz” again?
Well, I am.
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Well, now that this work week has ended, I’d like to admit something.
I’m having one of those weeks where I’m being constantly reminded (by myself?) how much my life has changed in the past 13 months. I manage a costume shop now; people report to me and look to me for direction and leadership and support. I don’t freelance design anymore (or is it better to say right now?); my vocation isn’t a singular position- it’s not me against the world- I am a part of a team that needs structure. I have an overly full-time job; on this “slow” week, I’ll still clock in close to 50 hours of work. I live on the west coast, in the Pacific Northwest, somewhere that didn’t even register as a possibility before July 2014. New York isn’t my home (right now?); I grew up in Indiana, Ohio, Chicago, and Louisville, but New York was my home as an adult.
I deeply miss certain parts of my life. I wasn’t famous. I wasn’t important. I wasn’t “flashy” in ways that would get me on Human of New York or noticed by Bill Cunningham. I was not a big fish. I was a small fish that honestly was struggling to exist in NYC. The life I was leading wasn’t easy; I was frequently broke, terrified of being out of work, terrified of being a failure, not treating myself well, lonely, and- truthfully- a little broken. I was home there, but I wasn’t whole there.
But parts of it- jeez- parts of that New York life felt so right.
Back in early June 2010, wearing a “tuxedo” I had pieced together and bought full price from Top Shop (weird, yes), in the early morning hours (maybe 3 or 4 in the morning, I walked from an after party in a space near the Hudson River. I had just sat through the Tony Awards that evening, had watched clothes I helped piece together and visualize and realize dance in front of a crowd of thousands live and a crowd of thousands in TV-Land and then watched as the designer I had assisted for almost two years accept the Best Tony Award for Costume Design for a musical. At 3 or 4am that morning, I decided to walk to Times Square and I was struck how EMPTY and quiet was. The lights were still blazing and illuminating everything; it could have been daylight for all I knew. I stood in the middle of the world and felt like I stood on top of the world. I took a cab back to my shockingly small 1 bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side and walked my French Bulldog (not even a year old then!) before I stopped by a 24 hour Bagel place and got something… probably an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese and tomatoes.
In the Fall of 2013, I left a party at the McKittrick, wearing a cheap white shirt, slim khakis, boots, suspenders and possibly sprays of fake “chocolate blood.” I had just spent several hours working a party for the people who created Sleep No More, and I left “early” at 2am so that I could get some sleep since I had to work the next morning. I was floating high above the cement sidewalks of Chelsea, completely shocked that I had been a part of an event like that. It sounds like hyperbole, but it was probably one of the most inspiring and exciting nights of theater I’d have.
In the Fall of 2006, I sat in a cheap bed from IKEA in a one bedroom apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I turned on Netflix. I watched part of Mommie Dearest, having just snacked on some rotisserie chicken (and a bagel) that my mom had bought me as a “apartment warming gift.” I had just moved into my first New York (i.e. Brooklyn) apartment. I would stay there for over three years, one major boyfriend, several unimportant jobs, a few important ones, gallons of Starbucks coffee, lots of paperwork, and so on.
I miss those memories. I miss those times. I miss how things felt open. Possible. Opportunity could always have been around the corner. I never knew what I would run into or encounter or have to deal with, but things happened.
Some days here in Portland pass and I never get an email… spam not included.
I miss the possibility that I’d get design jobs. I miss the Garment District. I miss the subway. I miss Fort Tryon’s dog park and the times my dog ran around, euphoric to see Spencer or Frankie or Stewie or Lola. I miss the Strand. I miss crowds. I miss Sleep No More- more for what that show represented (thinking so outside the box that it practically destroyed it) I guess. I miss theater that isn’t about copying productions that happened elsewhere. I miss Grindr, weirdly. I miss an easy to find gay community (Portland, I know you’re gay friendly, but where are you?!). I miss the Met, the Costume Institute, and FIT. City Quilter, I miss the subway ride and brief walk to a store filled with quilting fabrics and manned by a group of slow yet patient employees who weren’t ever surprised to help a guy. I miss wandering around and always seeing something new or crazy or weird or beautiful or ugly. New York taught me that the Awesome and the Overwhelming are inspiring, sure, but the mundane and everyday things can be just as powerful.
In a city of 8 million people, seeing the same people on the subway platform during the week can be a sensation all to itself. I don’t know those people, sure, but in this situation we’re regulars.
Portland is okay. It’s fine. The people are really nice and pleasant, which also makes me feel bad… why haven’t I made close friends yet? I’m friendly. I try. I’m out there. How hard is it to date here really, guys? Portland is trendy and cool and hip. I get that. I see why. But there are so many reasons why it could be better. I’ve never been so aware how important diversity is here. (I’m craving difference here.)
I do not like the impression that people have of me here: because I moved here from NYC, I’m one of the “gentrifiers” who has come to raise the cost of apartment rentals and destroy what made Portland “Portland.” I hate the impression that because I “left design” to manage, and that “I left New York,” I must not have been good enough to cut it.
I’m having one of those weeks. I’m homesick. And I really wish I could find my place here.
Anyone want to make immersive theater here with me? I’m serious. Anyone want to do something new and different?
Okay. I’m sure you might have noticed my reluctance to talk this week. Maybe you did. I’ve been down. This is part of it. I miss a lot.
I miss a lot in general and in a lot of ways.
Okay, TGIF. Let’s use the weekend to refocus and regroup. Shall we?