Category Archives: DC

the river, the woods, and the meandering chase (also: say yes).

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” –Rumi

In Chase, Chance, and Creativity, Austin discusses the idea of the meandering chase, which resonates for my own experiences. As a child, I saw the lives of adults as linear processes that went from event to another, always in a clear, well thought out succession. I have quickly learned, however, that adulthood is not quite so neat and tidy. In my life there have been a number of times when I could have continued on the path I was on, but I instead chose to change direction. In the four years since I have graduated from college, I have lived in 4 cites, had 5 bedrooms, lived with 13 different housemates, and held 4 different jobs. While this meandering route does not always make sense on the surface, I have come to see my path as a broad river, where I occasionally deviate to smaller branches and tributaries along the way, but it all remains part of the same stream.

I have been keeping journals regularly since 2003 when I was 14. Most of these journals now live a box underneath my childhood bed at my parent’s house, but when I was home over Christmas, I went through some of them. Some hadn’t been touched in years and were mildly embarrassing (8th grade and sophomore year of high school, I’m looking at you), while others were much more recent, like from when I participated a service program right after undergrad. As cringeworthy as it may be, I make a regular practice of rereading my own writing. Upon my most recent journey through the past, I came a particular comment someone had made that struck a nerve in me. I didn’t understand it in the moment, and six months later, I scribbled a note in a margin saying that I still didn’t understand; two years later, I still feel the same way.

While distance makes it easier to see where the meandering chase takes us, I wonder if it is possible to ever truly make it out of the woods and in the moment see where the path is leading. Is that a place we should even aspire to? I strongly believe that to create there are things in life we must do, whether or not we can explain our reasoning for these actions at the time. We must trust the process, the meandering journey through the woods, and where it will lead us.

Over these past few years in particular, if I have learned anything about how to cultivate this process and thus serendipity, it is this: just say Yes. Say Yes to travel, to impulsive plans and last minute bus tickets, to being open, and to talking to strangers. Say Yes to learning, to curiosity, to new books and ideas, and to not being afraid to fail and fall flat on your face. Say Yes to saying what you feel, to putting yourself out there, to taking a new road, but mostly, say Yes to people. The people that have changed my life the most have not always been who I have expected, and I am continually grateful for that and for the individuals that make up my own network on this meandering chase.

[This was written for a class I’m in this semester on Networks and the Creative Process.]

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the end of the beginning.

My feet are cold now when I walk to campus. I bury myself in layers most days, with my new bright red scarf wrapped around my neck. My headphones are usually playing 1989 by Taylor Swift (or some other bad pop song), and I’m humming along as I meander through the streets of Georgetown on my way to work or class. Pumpkins and brightly colored leaves have been replaced by twinkling lights and Christmas trees in windows.

I’ve gotten to see DC in every season now–an introduction in spring, a beginning in summer, settling in during the fall, and now transitioning into the dark days of winter.

2014’s coming to an end all too soon, but as far as DC and my adventures here are concerned, I’m only just beginning.

It’s only been a few months, but this place feels like home.

The song ends, but I’m still singing along.

“The best people in life are free.”

baby steps.

“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention.” —Mary Oliver

My feet have new calluses, and my body has bruises. Tender parts of me are becoming worn and battered before my very eyes.

I’m getting tougher, as I learn this city.

Somehow, I’m beginning to find my way around, as bewildering bus routes become familiar and strange names on a map become regular streets. Eventually, I’ll really know my way around, but for now I’ll celebrate these baby steps.

Being in DC and making all of this work feels like an accomplishment, like badges in adulthood. Bus route? Check. Assembling bedroom furniture solo? Check. Grocery shopping via public transportation? Check. My life here is coming together slowly, and I’m making my way towards the point when this won’t be strange anymore soon, very soon.

My first week of graduate school classes felt like being an undergrad again–except I was 7 years older and a completely different version of myself. I’m learning that what worked for me before might not work for me this time around, and I’m going to try not to mourn or force that (especially when that means learning to enjoy studying in the library, which I loathed during undergrad).

As always, it’s the people that seem to matter most. I’m still learning new faces. (And desperately trying to remember the names that go along with them.) While community doesn’t happen overnight, I’m grateful for the beginnings of friendship.

Mostly, I feel like I’m running around a little crazy. It’s like I’m moving at breakneck speed, and I don’t know when I’ll really slow down.

And now, suddenly, before I even had a chance to realize it, I’ve been in DC for over a month.

Finally, I may have found a routine. I’m still re-learning how to be in school and how to write academically and analyze scholarly texts. Slowly, it’s coming back to me, and I spend most of my days feeling like a sponge, soaking up information, new ways of thinking, and conversations.

I certainly haven’t learned how to juggle it all—I haven’t stepped foot in the gym since I got here, and I’ve eaten a lot of pasta—but that’s not really what I’m striving for these days.

I’ll get the hang of it all, somehow, someway. In the meantime, I’m just looking for growth. I’m trying to pay attention.

And I think back to a year ago when I was scared to death to pursue CCT and about the meandering road I took to get here. I fought this step for so long, and now I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It was all part of the journey I needed to take.

But it isn’t ever what you think it’s going to be. Tonight there was a man was singing “Like a Rolling Stone” at my Metro stop, and I couldn’t get these lines out of my mind. How does it feel? How does it feel to be on your own? 

How does it feel? It feels like a lot of work, never enough sleep, and hundreds of pages of reading every week. It feels like sticky humid days and now crunchy leaves. It feels awkward and uncertain, welcoming and encouraging, and challenging and empowering.

Mostly, it feels pretty great.

I’m so grateful.

DC: week one.

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This city. This city, y’all.

It has the potential to make you, but first, it will break you. If you aren’t careful, it will eat you up and spit you out. “If you aren’t passionate enough, you won’t make it,” they say. They shake their heads, and you worry (again) that you don’t have what it takes.

This city will take all you have, and it will won’t be shy about it. It won’t take it’s time. Before you know it, you’ll be disorientated standing on the side of the street, holding a distraught new friend in your arms. Tears will slip from her eyes, and you’ll blink back your own.

You’ll sit with her in the back seat of an Uber, talking life and dreams and relationships and loss. Somehow, the driver will say the most meaningful things you’ve heard since arriving.

“When one door closes, ten more open,” he says. And then, later, “Everyone needs someone.”

“Yes, yes, we do need each other,” you think. We need each other deeply, desperately, but not in the way he means.

Mostly, you just need friends who know how to listen and be a rock of support in this city of ambition.IMG_8252

Now that you’re finally in this city of hustle and bustle and noise–so much noise–you still don’t understand. You still wonder and pray and hope and wish you knew the answers.

But you also know that this city somehow holds the truths you’re meant to discover. They’re just around the next corner, beyond the curve in the metro, on the faces of the strangers on the bus.

As always, distance can be overwhelming. You are so far away from all those you have held dear these past years. The night you fell apart, sobbing that you didn’t want to learn to live without them, feels like a lifetime ago… but it was two weeks ago.

Somehow, you’re a different person now. Somehow, this city has already changed you, quicker than you believed possible.

You fall asleep every night in a new bed, in a new room, mind racing, heart full, body exhausted. And you can’t imagine any other way.

You can’t imagine doing anything else with this life.

You can’t wait to see what next week will hold.

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