I am a Millennial That Moved Out, Again
In Late February, the whispers of spring are in Seattle. The low light filters into the basement window and hits my eyeball as I rise into consciousness. I creak my aching 30-something, out-of-shape body out of bed and peek outside. Little sprouts of dewy grass shake off their blades in the gray dawn. A single bird chirps in the distance. This is my home. This is the Pacific Northwest. The same aquatic city that I had lived in for the past ten years.
In 2016, I decided to take a hiatus and move to Germany. I had not one, but three goodbye parties.
Goodbye Seattle, Hello Europe!
Oh God, what a disaster.
Goodbye Europe, Hello Mother!
Oh Lord, what have I done?
After a year of bewilderment, I failed magnificently and moved back to America and in with my mother to lick my wounds.
I start the coffee maker. It’s one of those weirdly petite ones, ones you’d see in 2-star hotels with small packets of coffee grounds and powdered milk. It came with the apartment, along with a trail of ants and a broken lamp.
After the big European adventure of doom, moving back in with my mother was like watching my life suspend in time. I tried to press all the buttons to charge forward, and nothing was working. Going on dates? Nope. Getting a job? Sorry, bud. Going to sleep at a normal hour? Why bother? I was turning the key in the ignition and revving up a really sad, puttering, junkyard engine.
Needless to say, my mother was so supportive, kind and deeply confused by my predicament. Envision a nurturing caretaker, taking care of someone deathly ill. Sure, all the signs were there. I was miserable, but it was self-imposed suffering. I was squirming. I was relentless. I was horribly depressed. I was highly, irritatingly anxious. My mother tried so hard to help while I dug myself a huge, glamourous hole of self loathing.
I hear an amplified voice above my head. The drop-dead gorgeous Italian woman who lives above me is yelling at someone on the phone. Is she angry? Passionate? In love? In hate? Ordering breakfast? Lord only knows.
It was a slog. The relentless rejections from nameless corporations. The lack of keywords on my resume. Being under qualified, yet strangely overqualified. Having an essay go viral, getting a promising “new future” and then having it crash and burn before my eyes, yet again. Let’s not forget the constant well-meaning advice that was given from every single person I’ve ever known.
Meanwhile, my mother fattened me up like a prized pig. “Are you hungry? Of course you are.” Food was being constantly passed to me. I was stuffing myself with so many feelings and so many gourmet dishes. I was the least starving artist there ever was.
Every day, it was the same story. Wash, rinse, refresh, cry, eat, repeat.
One day, after a deep irritation that my mother decided to wash my underwear (feeling like an infant at this stage in my life isn’t exactly my idea of a good time), I googled “life-coach” in the Seattle area.
There was the initial shame. Several visions of a hoity-toity upper middle class woman who wore a lot of pastel prints came to mind. I was going to have to master “the art of positive thinking”, “listen to my inner wisdom” or create a visualization board.
Or worse, recognize the fact that I secretly, feverishly love that kind of stuff.
Her name was Jessica.
I start organizing my week. It’s a Monday, and I need to make a list of things that need to be accomplished. Create 40 horoscopes. Write up artist bios. Find fundraising platforms. Ghostwrite an article about workplace synergy. I sip my coffee while sitting at my small pressure board desk from IKEA.
Jessica The Life Coach made me cry in our first phone session. I suppose that’s why I hired her. I thought life coaching was another form of therapy, but it was more proactive than anything I’ve experienced before. You’re supposed to literally get up and do things. I’ve done the therapy racket for years, and thought I learned everything. And yet, if this was a therapy video game, having a life coach would be the Final Boss. It is literally implementing the things you’ve been told to do over a lifetime of coping mechanisms.
She narrowed in on what I am meant to do, versus what I had to do.
And I think I’m meant to write.
Mercifully, Jessica told me that it was actually a blessing to have so much time on my hands to explore. She even mentioned that it was “brave” of me to move back in with my mother. Okay, Jessica. If you say so.
“What do you want to be a part of?” She asked, in so many words, so many times.
A creative community? A cause larger than myself? Literally anything to get me out of my house?
And so it was. I forced myself to go to events alone. I networked a little. I got some cheap business cards from Vistaprint. I sheepishly smiled and shook some hands. I pushed myself to do the things I would have done if I was a happy, competent, functioning human being. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? The happiness or the effort? In any case, I did get out of the house.
I stare up at my vision board for 2018. Finish writing a book. Get an adorable studio apartment. Make five new friends. Find romance. All drawn in cartoon form and tacked to my bulletin board officially. Can I get there? Am I already going there?
I refill my coffee mug. It has the Grinch on it. A grumpy reminder of a familiar past. I crunch into seed-filled toast with blackberry jam. You know — MY toast, the toast I bought with money I earned. The simple things mean so much when you’ve been not able to function properly for a while.
Unbeknownst to me, I sprouted this past year. Not in height (at nearly thirty-one a growth spurt would be weird) but in a strange, earthy foundation, nestled in my chest. I didn’t notice it at first. It was a slow rumbling in the distance. It was through the horrible rejections for both “dream” jobs and “back-up jobs”. It was through living in a foreign country. It was also through underpaid or nonpaid writing gigs.
Let’s be real. Who knew those dead end writing gigs would land bigger fish? And those bigger fish would land interesting side-gig-fish in the meantime? It’s as if I casted a large net over the ocean this past year and in scraping up the bottom feeders, I also may have captured a few porpoises (or shall I say purposes? ;) ) as well.
And yet? We all know the gig economy is not secure. It is not thriving. Once a project ends, it seemingly ends for the foreseeable future. Reestablishing myself in this city, IN THIS PLANET, means living with absolute uncertainty. I was not able to land a full-time job with benefits after hundreds of applications were sent out, so instead I found a collection of forever swirling, temporary jobs. I was unable to commit to a year lease, so I found a month-to-month mother-in-law in a falling apart house.
In this reality, I am making both compromises and yet experiencing absolute creative freedom. Swallowing humble pie while enjoying a celebration cake. In the past couple of months I have found myself working with a comedian, a badass woman auctioneer, a nature-themed publishing company, and writing horoscopes for middle aged women. I get to dive into projects with strange visionaries while feigning panic about my future before I sleep.
I climb out of my hobbit hole apartment and step outside. It had snowed two days ago, and some of the snow still clings to the shrubs and corners of the walkway.
I have to trust my whispering, temperamental, and persistent gut. I am handing my fate over to the universe. What other choice do I have? Roll with the punches. Make decisions based off of tenderness and passion versus cold hard facts. Pay my rent. Go on OkCupid dates. Dive into a life I invented yet know nothing about. Experience freedom again, as much as I can. Wash, rinse. Repeat.