Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sixty-Nine Days

In case you missed it, starting in September, I plan to stop working (eek!), store my belongings in a shed, and travel around the country for (at least) three months, searching for a new place to call home. For years I have wanted to move. For various reasons, including failed attempts at love, trying to save money for moving costs, and not knowing where to go, I remained in DC. But I no longer wish to have my life - my career, my love life (or lack there of), my place in the world - on hold because 'I want to go,' and so my solution is to vagabond.

The loose plan is the drive around the country, the first six weeks for mostly joy and then with purpose: When I find a city that I feel I might be keen on, I'll spend a few days in the city applying for jobs and checking out more of the sites and city vibes. I will live mostly out of a tent and sometimes sleep in the trunk of my little hatchback in Wal-Mart parking lots that allow overnight parking for RVs (there's an app for that...seriously) - couch surfing when the opportunity presents. I will attempt to live as cheaply as possible, subsisting mostly eggs and noodles and the kindness of strangers, as even homelessness proves to be expensive.

I was chatting about my plan with a friend at a wedding a few weeks back. While we waited for the ceremony to start, she tried to reason with my stubborn heels to start a gofundme, softening my I-am-an-island sense of conviction with: "We spend over a decade of our lives celebrating other people's life choices with weddings and babies and all those things, but how often do we celebrate a person choosing to chase their dream?" 

I paused to think. I mean, she had a point. And I'm in no position to turn down help. However, weeks later, despite her words and my blurb written and ready to post, I'm still trying to convince myself it's okay to press that "submit" button and ask for help with something I'm choosing to do...Or is it a choice?

This past Sunday, I called my step-father (of 29 years) to wish him a happy father's day. Surprisingly, both my parents are incredibly supportive. My mother, only worried for my safety and my step-father - I found out on Sunday - the same. He said he wanted to talk to me about my plan and I wondered aloud if he was going to try to talk me out of it: "I'm scared enough as it is," I said. 

 "Certainly not," he responded, after reminding me that the front lines of war taught him that being scared is pointless, then continued, "I hitchhiked around the country when I got back from Vietnam for three months. I felt it was something I just felt I had to do. If this is something you feel you have to do, I support that. I just want you to be safe."

::brake noises:: 


After we hung up, I began to wonder, was he right? Was I like him in that this is something I feel I have to do verses simply a choice? The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. 

Ever since high school, I have dreamed of being a vagabond. While I realize this certainly isn't a dream for everyone, there was a bit of wanderlust that always existed. I ignored it in order to go to school and get a job like I thought I was 'supposed to do,' with plans to marry at 25 like I thought I was also 'supposed to do'. Then, at 25, I left my boyfriend of five years. But after graduating with two degrees and a Scrooge McDuck pile of debt, I thought it impossible to become a vagabond and still be able to meet my financial obligations (even after working for eight years). At 28, I began to develop a desire to leave DC: DC is nice and it was fun, but it's not full of what I would call 'my people' - whoever they are. Attempts to fall in love and save money in order to move (ironically), repeatedly thwarted my attempts to move, followed by an inability to figure out where should be my new home. And thus, came my solution to vagabond to find a home and fulfill a decade old dream.

I realize, however, that this is going to be difficult. I am equal parts scared and excited. Some days more scared than excited. And I realize that to some people, this may come off to some as "incredibly stupid" or "financially irresponsible," but I have tried to plan as best I can, and save as much as possible, and hope everything works out, and tell myself this is an okay thing to do at 31, because, while society urges this is the age to get married and pop out babies, I think that no matter what else happens in life, that it is important we find our happiness - whatever that means. Because happiness is contagious; no (wo)man is an island. And sometimes in life you have to do certain 'stupid', scary, faith-driven things so you don't ever have to say 'I wish I would have.' 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Doughnuts and Pride

Today is National Doughnut Day. Heading down the stairwell to walk to Dunkin Donuts for my free fried dough, I run into a wave of nostalgia; it hits my face and darts up my nose. Someone must have just walked down the stairs, leaving a trail of Turk-like cologne, because just then I didn't even realize that the Turk had a smell - or that I remembered it. Comfort and panic and surprise it all at once. The mind is quite a curious place. 

The last update left the Turk wishing me a Merry Christmas before he left for Turkey again, but that wasn't the end. The random and sporadic texts began again when her returned from Turkey again in January. "Hellooo," he wrote. "Happy new year," he typed to me 17 days past the new year, which led to very short and general conversation of how are you's, like strangers in an elevator. A few days later, I texted him to ask if he could recommend a place in Istanbul, as my cousin and I were discussing a trip. (We eventually settled on Cozumel.)

On January 28, he texted because he was driving by my place for work and was "going to stop by for lunch :)." That Saturday night, he texted that he was at the nightclub where we met "if you're around." I declined, saying I had just got home (and I was tired and not interested in a booty call, having been presently satiated by the single dad). A week into February, he called me as I was boarding my plane to Arizona to tell me about the information he got for us concerning our possible trip to Istanbul. I told him I couldn't talk; would call him the following week. I texted and he called after work; a short call that was only semi-useful in terms of our trip: He said he would send a link to his friend's hotel. 

Two days after that, "Happy Valentines" popped up onto my phone. Although, come to think of it, he might be the only man who wished me one. I asked for the link the next day and he finally sent it a week later. That's the last we spoke until the end of March. Under the guise of checking on if we were going to Istanbul and did I check out the link, he started texting. He asked what I was doing that Saturday and that he was going out with his friends and "maybe we run into each other." I told him probably not, as I had no plans to go out, still recovering from my weekend before in Boston. 

Turns out, however, that I did go out. An out of town girlfriend was in DC, so I passed it on to him thinking, "If they get bottle service, we can wriggle into it too." Only my attempts at being delightfully coy were met with an opposition, as when I asked where he and his friends were going, all he did was ask where I was going. I gave up on trying to remora onto their bottle service and my friends and I picked a spot to eat and drink. 

At 10p, the Turk texts to ask when we were going, to which I responded that we were already there. I asked - mildly miffed I was going to have to metro home, "Not going out, I take it?" 

"I do wanna go out though. Just took a shower; got dressed up." 

"Where you going?" I asked. 

"I don't know. If I go out, I"ll probably come to where you are." Perfect: Free ride home. Just after midnight, he shows up. My friends, having encouraged tequila into me before leaving the house, and I were already quite drunk. I saw The Turk walk up the steps and it was like breathing a breath of stale air. Ah. Yes, he does have a smell. I smelled him. It was reminiscent of desire and heartache. We hugged and went off to a less crowded area of the bar where my friends were flopping around like drunken fishes for a few minutes before they left and - I would later learn via Tinder message - a Tinder match, whom I had just accepted a date from, watched me flirt with the Turk. (We never went out, though he still tried.)

About an hour later, my friends were gone and I was finished with my vodka tonic and needed to go home. He offered to drive me. Directly out front of the bar was a baby blue WV Jetta, a far cry from his black Mercedes E63 AMG. "Who's car is this?" I inquired. 

"It's my friend's."

"Oh right," I said, suddenly remembering he said that he was out with them. "Where are they?"

"They're at another bar around the corner. I have to pick him and his girlfriend up at 2am."

"It's 1am now. How are you going to be back in time?" I wondered aloud.

"It's fine. I drop you off and come back," he said, confidently, as he shifted from reverse to first gear. Even drunk, I began to suspect something was amiss. The VW was new and I had only seen him out with one other friend, whose car he drove. The one who sat on the couch, drinking coffee last time we hooked up in October.

Back at my house, he ended up in my bed - both of us lying atop the comforter shoulder to shoulder. We chatted a bit and I cornered him into admitting that the car he was driving wasn't his friend's car (it being well past 2am, at this point,when he said he had to pick them up). Finally he confessed, "It's my car, but I still have my Mercedes at home. I can show you!"

"That's not necessary," I said through a muffled chuckle and already positioned to move onto my next mission: Getting him to admit that there were no friends out that night; that he made them up to have an excuse to see me. He, reluctantly, eventually admitted to that too. And then we hooked up, which didn't do much of anything for me and my tequila haze. It was quick and emotionless - I imagine he was frustrated with me, having used my brain and calling him out.

I woke up the next morning with that realization that that would, indeed, be the last time I would see the Turk. Because back in September when things were at the pinnacle of falling apart he posed the question: "What are you like in a break-up?"

"I don't know," I confessed after a contemplating pause, "Sort of like this...but every man that has ever broken up, always came back."

"I don't go back," he said, sternly. But he did come back. He wanted to spend time with me, without admitting that he wanted to spend time with me. Without admitting he missed any part of me - emotional or physical. He tiptoed around me, so completely unlike the confident Turkish King who swept me away, left me with no choice, and cast me aside all so easily and in such a short amount of time some months before. He had the power then; his pride still in tact, he vulnerabilities complete shielded, and his fear of rejection completely not necessitated. But calling him out on his bullshit opened a wound to all of the things he keeps closed from the world; his whole facade was blown.

And I realized that morning that stinging the pride of a man who defines himself by it, meant he would cut off himself off from that sting forever. And I didn't really mind - and almost sort of forgot - until a scent in the stairwell on the way to a free doughnut triggered my memory.  And so that's the ridiculous (and sort of hilarious and even a bit sad) finale to the saga of The Turk. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Worry is Contagious

Over the past couple of days, I have been reconsidering my timeline - again. This happened after, at a friend's wedding this weekend, I was discussing my plan with a few people and they seemed incredibly concerned about my financial situation. Which got me panicked about it. One friend suggested that I set up a donation page, which I immediately shot down. Something about asking people for money when you are voluntarily becoming jobless and homeless, seems strange - and maybe a bit rude. But she made a good point that she wants to help her friends chase their dreams, if that's what she can do to support me in finding my best self and making me happy, then its just as good - better, even - then the money we throw at our friends at this stage in our lives for their decisions to get married or have babies. 

Point (to): Red.

I am now slowly warming up to the idea of setting up a donation page. Passively, at best. Where my friends (and family) who love and support me can do their best to ease their minds about my impending homelessness and ballsy-as-shit (or stupid, TBD) decision to quit everything and leave all comforts behind to find my place in this world. That's right, I'm self-proclaiming it is ballsy as shit, because the more they talk about the realities of it the more my mind panics and I go OH GOD WHAT AM I ABOUT TO DO? And maybe I should stay just one more year?!  In a year, I could pay off credit cards and have a better nest to fall back on, should I not be able to find a new city and a new job in time (before my (in process) savings runs out). I'm saving as hard as I can right now, but just a few extra months at work and a couple more commission checks would make a huge difference. If I postponed, it would be the more responsible thing to do (in a fairly irresponsible situation). It would ease their worries about my well-being - which, until then, I didn't even realize was a thing. And ease my mind, which is growing with steady concern directly paralleling the voiced concerns of others.

Maybe if I just stay and extra seven months... I contemplate.

But I sat at work today, staring at my computer, aware that, as it is the first day of June, I have officially three months until I am homeless - should I choose to be. And even then, it seems too far away. Next spring would be better, I think to myself; heading into the warmth, versus leaving this fall, heading into the cold. But I think about the prospect of another snowy winter, stuck at the same job, in the same house, doing the same old thing and I can't imagine the toll that would take on me. I think it might swollow me whole. And from that, I realized that I'm certain of it now: it is time to go - ready or not, financially under-prepared or not. I'm going to do my damnest to make this work, because I have to make it work. It feels like now or never - and never isn't an option because I take a long time to make a decision, but once it is made, I rarely go back: I believe my decision has been cemented in the form of progression. I have to fucking do this, ready or not - all I can give it is all that I have and hope for the best.

I have to try. Worry or not. The time is now