Monday, April 20, 2009

Nora Day #22 It's raining...again

      I used to feel everything with every ounce of my body. My mom has told me a few times that when I was little they really worried about me, because whenever I would be punished for doing something wrong (more than likely, mouthing off) I would get myself so worked up, sometimes to the point of making myself sick. Looking back on it now, I remember sitting on the step (our version of "time out") in pain, my body convulsing, my head pounding, chest throbbing and eyes almost swollen shut. She had a very intense little girl. I felt every emotion at 200% and rocked the world around me.
      During a phone conversation with a good friend last night I realized that I am very different than I once was. For one, I don't get sent to the step any more. But I also don't feel to the point of puking. It's hard to describe why I feel so different now without sounding ridiculous, but whatever. I kind of feel like a warrior returning from battle. Like the last year of my life was spent combating life's basic questions: what will you do with your life? How will you get there? Why are you choosing that path? What if it doesn't work out? How much do you care about this person? Is this relationship worth continuing? Is what they did forgivable? Sometimes I felt like my brain weighed 500 pounds, swollen from all of the analyzing.
      Now that I have come out on the other end of the madness that is Senior Spring term, I don't do that anymore. In fact, I feel a little detached from everything. Sure, after being hurt I have thrown some walls up, like we all do, so I am sure that is a part of it. But it's almost like I am doing things and making decisions for the sake of doing things and making decisions. I feel a bit impulsive.
      So, with all that said, how does San Francisco fit into all of this? (Because I know my mother is reading this, sitting on the edge of her seat with hands in tight fists, terrified her daughter is making a bad, consequential, move at the beginning of her adult life). Nothing is tying me down and I don't have a lot invested in any one or any place. So maybe it's not impulse, maybe it's a search. Like I am looking under ever rock and between every root for something that will grab me and give me a reason to stay beyond "just because". I know this sounds more external than it should. But that's how I have always found new pieces of me. By traveling. By moving. By being a part of a new space or scene. And now, with battle wounds and all, I am finally ready to find out more.
      I can take a few spills without convulsing on the steps in a time out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nora Day #21 It Has Been Raining All Day

      I listen to a song that a boy once wrote for me when he was in love with me. It takes me back to the place I was when I first moved to Chicago, itching to get back to Europe and overflowing with so many things to do and write about. A lot of these things included the boy who wrote the song.
      I play in this corner of my mind for a bit, replaying walks along the beach in early September holding hands and opening our pasts, filling the seats on the el obviously built for two, our knees knocking against one another. A siren wails outside below my window on the twelfth floor, a sound that normally goes without me noticing. This time it's smooth pitch curls around my shoulder's and twirls me back into today. And I am thankful.
      This past year has shown me that no matter what happens, I will always come out on the other end just fine. I might gather some battle wounds along the way, like a broken heart, and I might do some things I am not proud of, like kicking my boyfriends car several times after I caught him cheating on me (I had heels on), but somehow, I am always able to look back in hindsight and think to myself, shit, I am so far away from all of that now. The human mind and body always knows how to adapt...if we let it.
      But sometimes I wonder about the validity of these adjustments (did you really think I was going to leave this one alone?) I agree, time heals all wounds....but, I wonder if this is because you get over it, or if it is just because you get space from it, you find other things or people to occupy your time and it becomes easier to forget. Pretty soon, all of the things you once associated with that person or thing lose their original connection. You can listen to Jewel's "You Were Meant For Me" without sniffling. You can smell Christmas without wishing they were there to pose with you for a photo beside your parents' tree.
      But how over it do we really get? As we walk the path of life do we work our way through these roadblocks of sadness, loss and hurt, or do we just trail blaze our own detours around them?
      I am not suggesting that we be reminded of the ugly parts of our past every day, or that we be faced with those devastating emotions every morning upon waking up...life is too short to be spent in yesterday. But then, how do we tell the difference between growth and just space?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Nora Day #19 What Have I Got to Lose?

      I've been thinking about relationships a lot lately. My friends are breaking up, my friends are being cheated on, my friends are meeting new people, my friends are falling in love...I'm just kind of hanging out. For the first time, I am the friend who is receiving the stories rather than playing a leading role in them. As a serial monogamist, this was a challenging adjustment. But now, standing in hindsight of the last year, in which I broke up, I was cheated on, I was meeting new people, and I was falling in love, I am relieved.
      I never realized how much energy and time a relationship required until I had no one to give it to. Nora Day helped me to create an outlet for that time and energy by giving it back to myself, which was a whole new concept to me. Now, I can't imagine my life without it. And I'm not too sure how I ever got along before it.
      However, lately I worry that, should a potential relationship arise, I won't be able to incorporate it into my day, that I will have adjusted to my Nora Day lifestyle so well that I won't have room for the needs and feelings of another. Just thinking about it makes me feel overwhelmed. Even more so, I worry that because of this change of perspective, I will let the real thing pass me by.
      This move to San Francisco puts an interesting twist on things. When it comes to taking chances with my relationships in Chicago, I figure, what have I got to lose? I'm leaving soon so, should I be rejected, I'll only be embarrassed about it for a small while and before I know it I'll be on the sunny beaches of California hitting on surfers. But at the same time, I'm leaving soon, so what do I really have to gain?
      Timing plays a ridiculously important role in relationships, probably just as important as the feelings between the two people. And now, looking at the clock, I think it is going to be a long time before a relationship will ever make sense.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nora Day #18 I'm Back

      I just arrived at my cafe around the corner and have set up my computer and books just so at my usual table. The quirky-cute barista made heart-shaped latte art on the top of my cappuccino. The sun isn't shining, but the wind off the lake is calm and I didn't have to wear a jacket outside. Today is going to be a great day.
      So, I know it has been a while. I have done an outstanding job of skipping out on the Monday entries and obligatory check-ins I had assigned myself upon turning 23 in order to "find balance." After a strong streak of thirteen back-to-back entries followed by an abrupt halting of inspiration and the ability to put words on the page I found that finding balance requires falling, words require silence, and blog entries require lack thereof.
      With that said, I took a much needed break. Not just from the blog, but from life, from Chicago and the unavoidable winter blahs. And got on a plane to San Francisco.
      Instead of riding the el to work, I took the passenger seat to a couple of my best friends and let my chest swell as they drove me across the Golden Gate Bridge, Yeasayer's "Sunrise" blaring out of the speakers. Instead of bundling up for my half-marathon training, I ran around the bay in shorts and a t-shirt and came back with little pink on my cheeks. I squeezed myself and my journal in the last open seat at a cafe packed with Berkeley students, fitting in rather well. I found a square in an alley sidewalk near Chinatown that read, "The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world." And at the end of it all, I said easy goodbyes and got on my returning flight with a light heart. Because I knew I was coming back.
      I spent Nora Day # in San Francisco, I won't say I didn't do that on purpose. I was overflowing as I was writing it. That's the only way I can describe that feeling. I wasn't overflowing with words or thoughts or ideas...it felt like my chest was literally going to break open and a sea of something was going to flood the entire cafe, drenching every patron and barista in it. What is that?
      I neglected to post that entry right away because, as hard as it is for someone so emotionally driven, I am trying to be realistic about this whole San Francisco thing. I want to be able to explain what it is and what it means to me rather than it coming off as an escape. To an outsider it easily looks like I am running away. But to run away, there has to be something to run away from. And I don't feel like I am doing that. I love Chicago. A piece of me will always be here. But it's time for the next step, and I have found something to run towards.
      Now that the dust has settled after a few weeks back at the grind, I feel exactly the same way. And can't wait to see what's next.

ENTRY FROM NORA DAY #16 SAN FRANCISCO EDITION

Dear Gut,

      Yes, I agree with you. This wasn't just a recharging of batteries. This was a discovery.
      Gut, I hear you loud and clear. But please keep shouting. Throw yourself against the walls of my ribcage if you have to. Because upon returning to an easier option, I might not hear you.
      Hold me to it, and remind of the following:
      I'm in love with this city, the way it makes me feel. It's slower than Chicago. It's warmer than Chicago. It feels younger than Chicago. Chicago is a preserver of culture, whereas San Francisco is the creator of culture. You need both.
      This city speaks to a different piece of me I didn't know I liked or had. Energy saving light bulbs illuminate cafes and baristas say, "Groovy." Cars stop for me while I am out on a run. Strangers talk to me as if we were reengaging in a previous conversation from earlier that day. The mountains make me sick for Europe. The ocean makes me sick for Thailand. It calls so many different pieces of me out from hiding...I've never felt them all come to the surface simultaneously before.
      Although it feels right, a move out wouldn't be easy. I don't exactly have a job (yet) or bundles or money to throw around (ever?) but I think the decision has been made. And I'd be a fool, a wondering-and-stuck-on-what-if fool if I didn't let myself take this leap.
      Chicago fulfilled it's purpose. It gave me exactly what I asked from it - a year in a great city to get my shit together. It gave me space to refine my passion (writing) and discover new ones (yoga). It showed me I can be an adult, that I do, in fact, understand the reality of bills, income, savings and splurges. It gave my mind room to stretch out beyond wild possibilities and granted me time to sit at the edge of every branch and contemplate whether the potential fall is worth it. It might not be a solid path I'm on, but I would rather see them all than be blinded by one.
      It's time to do this.
      Thank you, Gut. Hope to hear from you soon.

Nora

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Reevaluating.

I am reevaluating. A lot of things. And can't write my way through it this time. At least not for an audience.

I don't know much right now. One thing I do know, is that every time I wait at the Sheridan stop on the red line and see an airplane flying overhead I know I should be on it.

And I don't even know where that plane is going.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nora Day #13 Tripping on Femurs

      I wonder who this blog is for. I write it, so it’s for me and from me. I have a small group of readers who leave me provoking comments and send me encouraging messages and emails, so it’s for them too. I have distant friends and relatives who just like to know what I am doing and what I am thinking. Reading my blog helps me to keep in touch with them on some level, so it’s partially for them as well. And then there are the first time readers, who happen to stumble upon my blog in the middle of a google search or a blogspot scan session. I want my blog to be one that sticks out, one that they come back to. So it’s kind of for them, too.
      Then there are the people who play(ed) a role in this present chapter of my life. Their influences surface on Nora Day. Which, quite frankly, sometimes sucks depending on the person and how their story meshes with mine. But with an entire day to reflect on, well, everything, skeletons practically fall out of the closet. And most of the time…ok, all of the time, it is easier to tip toe over the bones that spill out on the floor and sneak out of the room than it is to pick them up and figure out where the hell they go.
      That is so dishonest though. It’s like telling the next generation how historical the 2008 presidential election was without mentioning that Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States. Or telling your server at a restaurant that you don’t want peanuts in your dish without mentioning that you are allergic to them.
      My responsibility as a writer of creative nonfiction is not necessarily to give every piece of information I find, but to give enough of the right information in order to help my readers create an accurate mental picture. And I am not so sure I have been doing that. I think because of my premeditated audience, I censor myself. I leave out the fact that Obama is black. I neglect to acknowledge my peanut allergy. I write these entries and get to the core of some pretty heavy stuff, but I am tripping over femurs the entire way.
      And I am tired of it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Nora Day #12 A Buffet of Thoughts

      Various readers have brought to my attention that I missed Nora Day #11's entry. I wish I had a good excuse for this aside from the fact that I simply had nothing to write about. My mind was blank, I lacked any burning issue to write my way through. Nora Day #12 is quite the opposite. I have lots of little burning issues nipping at the front of my brain, but none that are developed enough to translate into words on the page.

Thought #1
      I am still struggling to find the real purpose of Nora Day. It's original intent was to help me find balance. After a few weeks of sorting through different post college graduation transitions it turned into a day to feel sorry for myself, to dwell in loneliness (that at times is self created) and gawk at how my world is changing every second. So, I decided it was time to take some action. I started by taking yoga and training for a half marathon. Both are going well and leave me feeling invigorated and refreshed. However, they both fail to sustain any real assurance.

Thought #2
      I am tired of being pulled back and forth, of losing roots one day I had pushed so hard through the ground just days before. I don't necessarily want regularity or routine. Hell, I'm not even asking for security. I just want a stable ground to walk out on...I don't know, a starting block? A support system? A touchstone to reality? Just something I can count on.

Thought #3
      When I am not at the restaurant or at the office for my internship, I am probably on the internet researching possible paths for the future. I google things like "travel writing," "yoga instructor certification," and "teaching English abroad." I have a basic plan for each of these paths, both short and long term. But none of it is happening now and I am sick of waiting.

Thought #4
      My entire life has consisted of looking forward to the next best and/or big thing. When I was a kid I looked forward being a high schooler and going to proms with cute boys. When I was in high school I looked forward to going to college, living on my own, making new friends and studying writing in all its forms. When I was in college I looked forward to study abroad so I could finally get off campus and into the world. When I graduated I couldn't wait to start an adult life, make a move that only considered me and my needs, finding a job and paying bills without help from mom and dad. And now? I look forward to anything that is different from now.

Thought #5
      I wonder if I will ever enjoy the present.