Hello, darling readers!
I have been gone for two reasons: 1) Business (but that was a while ago) and 2) cluelessness (which is ongoing, but recently, and for our purposes, remedied). Could you believe me if I told you that I couldn’t figure out how to write on this blog on a computer? To be fair it is confusing; to go to the website and be informed that you must download things, and that you need to pay for a web host thing, when you already have a blog, does rather lead one astray.
Anyway, the business that was going on: excessive travel. While I was in Italy (I think I mentioned that at least a dozen times; it was part of a mantra for a while), we were always so very busy that there was barely a moment for me to write things down in my journal, let alone sit down with my blog. I could barely email Ian. But we saw essentially everything except Bologna in the northern half of Italy – and in doing so, I became an absolute pro about travel. I can now find a way to get pretty much anywhere, and then get everyone there with few hitches. I am also capable of looking like I’ve been to every train station and airport ever, simply by becoming really good at looking at signs while walking really fast – the key to looking like a local is to never slow down. (The problem with looking like a local without actually being one is that the moment you open your mouth, everything is ruined.) I basically planned and bossed that whole two-week crazy trip, mostly because my mother decided that iPhones are difficult, and operated mine by swearing at it and handing it back to me. The whole experience was empowering, but also extremely stressful, as one might expect, but I had a really good time. The important thing to remember about things that happen outside of the world of plans is that those things make much better stories than any of the plans ever could. I mean, do you want to read a blog about how someone expected everything?
After Italy, I went back to Brittany, with more mixed feelings about it than I thought was possible. On the one hand, I was returning to my beloved Brittany, and was to stay with dear friends again; on the other, I wanted nothing more than to go back to my home in Colorado, and throw myself into the bosom of my world of old friends and my dear old dad, and have my Golden Birthday surrounded by their love. I resented the delay; I wondered how I could have been so short-sighted as to not have seen this six weeks previous. But I went, and though it was not the happiest week of my life, nor the most exquisite birthday, it was thoroughly pleasant, and I do not look back on it with regret, which is the most important thing. I began it dancing; I finished it playing music; and in between, I ate and cooked and ate. Yet if I felt I could say that I have really internalized the fact that we cannot know the future, nor our future selves, and that therefore we can only live with supreme graciousness for what is, I think I’d be a happier person. As it is, I can write that, without yet feeling its letters emblazoned on my soul, as so many others of these teachings are. I need to read it a few more times, for it to sink in.
From France, I went home to Colorado, and have now been here two weeks, with the notion of staying another two. It is so very nice to be back in this most beautiful part of the world, and I am struck again – as I was the last time I was here – with amazement that I can live without these people. It’s wonderful to be around my dad again, and my lovely Emergency Backup family, and it is a dream come true to be able to trundle over to friend’s houses nearly every day, and not only be welcome, but have every reason to be exactly who I am, and to exercise every bit of my self. I don’t know where else I’m ever going to find a community of people around whom I can be as ridiculous as I like – I tried to think whether even Ian would appreciate a recipe for how to cook a chicken that included instructions like “Wash it as you would wash Tiny George Washington” and then referred to the chicken as such throughout (to avoid confusion). I can hope. Most people would just tell me was I weird, in an endearing kind of way. To which I say that every girl must have a loving environment for her surrealist creativity; otherwise it comes out in unhealthy desires of getting trapped in Venetian blinds, or running away to join the mole people, that kind of thing. Terrible. Anyway. Colorado is a delight.
One thing which I am realizing again here – particularly in light of the past couple days, in which I have been housebound with a cold – is the utmost importance of doing. To paraphrase Frederick, “Let us go […] do something, rather than waste time that may be so precious. Thinking has, many a time, made me sad, darling; but doing never did in all my life” (chapter 30, North and South, Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, public domain). While I was hard at work in the wilds of France and Ireland, and while I was running about like a headless Tiny George Washington in Italy, this maxim did not need to enter my mind. I was so thoroughly preoccupied that the notion of having enough time to cease doing was a ridiculous one to me, for the most part. I got a break in France; while Romain studied for his last exams of the year, I read, and went for rambling walks, and played music. The space was not entirely welcome, for some reason – I was so used to doing all the time that the change jarred me, rather – and since I have been back in Fort Collins, I have endeavored to never be without occupation, as I know now how I hate to be idle. This can be difficult, and in addition to that, it is rather hard sometimes to find something to do that feels simultaneously like it’s forwarding my life, and also that is amusing enough and independent enough that I have the motivation to do it. So, I’ve been working on and off on an application for an internship with NPR, and editing a semantics paper that I wrote last year, and trying to volunteer at a garden here in Fort Collins, and spending as much time with friends as possible. But I live in fear – I should not, but I do – of applying for jobs, though it’s easy, and searching for somewhere to live in Vancouver, even though that’s my true next step in life. That’s what I plan to do for the next few months. But I’m terrified that I won’t have good references, or that I won’t be qualified, or that I’ll need to leave soon after I get there, or that I won’t be able to find work and will just be depressed again, sitting in grey Vancouver until I find somewhere else to be. Somehow, bigger dreams aren’t so daunting – perhaps because I already know that they are naught but marshgas and starlight.
I am also running into a problem I noted in my first week of travel: that “It’s damned near impossible to discover your vocation without doing it. No experience = no true knowledge, in that case.” Of course, at the time I was mainly doing household chores, and sanding future kitchen cupboards (endlessly…), and I wondered why I had thought it necessary to spend hundreds of dollars to come do someone else’s chores, and to also be the most knowledgeable in that household about the very things I had come there to learn, such as companion planting and gardening. A week beforehand, I had sat in the guestroom at my mom and step-dad’s house, and written first in a list of five goals for the trip, “To understand fully what it is I love, and to avoid confusion on the subject.” Among other things, this statement was intended to include my search for my passion, for what it is that I want to do forever. And you know? I never did answer that question. I don’t think I ever will. So I have decided to try to do a little bit of everything that is interesting to me, in the hopes of weeding out those things that just will not work, and then I shall follow this man’s advice, though not blindly, and hope that it’s good. Fortunately, I am able to stretch many of the skills that I love – such as writing, and gardening, and meeting new people – while I’m here, or at least I am working toward being able to, and so discovering the aforementioned vocation is not nearly so difficult to find as it was when I was sanding cupboards.