08.12.12

some mysterious fractal

August 12, 2012 is when I finally made it to Florida to start grad school. It was on a Sunday. I was supposed to leave the day before, but the movers I hired were terrible and took too long. I guess I missed my flight? I couldn’t get a hold of any friends to crash with so I had to stay at this noisy airport hotel.

I had to stay with my cousin here for a couple of weeks because my stuff was being bounced around all over the east coast. Such a disreputable moving company.

I don’t even want to rehash all of that because it was horrible and I am tired of complaining about how horrible life has been down here. I think the horror magnifies with how hopeful I was to finally find my tribe, to make a real connection with a blood family member, to escape the cold and growing disappointments of Chicago.

Well, life had other plans for me.

It’s been very transformative spiritually. Going into year six of my life down here, I feel like I’ve unloaded a lot of emotional and spiritual baggage. I feel cleansed and unencumbered. But the journey to get to this very precious place has been very expensive: on my bank account, on my credit, on my body, on whatever I would call my social life.

Has it been worth it? I’m not entirely sure yet. This is a rather 7 of Pentacles moment right now. I’m looking at what I’ve grown so far and knowing there is more work to do.

Instead of regaling you with how shitty and disappointing and heartbreaking and humiliating and scary (and I’m pretty sure this blog has detailed a lot of that, so just peruse the archives for a good gasp, cry, or sigh), I’d rather just pivot from here and say that I’m done with this period of my life–or maybe my (very warranted) emotional response to it.

I’m not like Katrina and the Waves walking on sunshine yet, but I am tired of feeling like my life is one long, painful climb, even if that is the Capricorn way. Eventually, I want to be able to rest and enjoy the views up here…

 

The prolonged money and housing instability has been interesting to navigate as someone who is a Capricorn sun and rising with a Cancer moon. My sojourn in Florida has hit me where it hurts, over and over. That’s probably due to Pluto and his heavy demolition crew obliterating my 1st house of self, where my Capricorn sun and rising reside.

Who am I without a stellar reputation? Without stable housing? Without friends to lean on? Without a reliable stream of money?

What is my home? Who is my family?

I don’t really know what the answers to those rhetorical questions are. I believe I’m making it up as I go along–as we all do. I thought I knew those answers.

I didn’t realize how much I had relied on my plucky nature to get me out of jams, and how I have always had a strong community there for me to lift me up. Even with social media, I had both strong online and offline communities, where even both worlds would begin to meld. I met my last boyfriend in an MSN chat room and then we met in IRL–he lived in the same city and went to college with people I knew from my church.

It’s hard to have these stalwarts stripped away–sometimes very violently, and sometimes very slowly. But all the same, it’s left me very vulnerable and open–well, it’s easier to hear from Spirit in this way.

Looking back over these five years, I don’t have much gratitude for this stripping process yet. Still, because I want to change my attitude towards whatever has been unfolding in my life, I took myself out to dinner downtown.

As a sidenote, I do think it’s funny how some Americans will roll up into a nice restaurant and wear soccer jerseys or whatever else seems like casual attire.

My Cancer moon needed to be fed and nurtured. It felt so good to eat the (sometimes literal) fruits of my labor (I had a peach salad and a peach cobbler). As my current housing situation is driving me a lot batty,  it was also nice to not physically be here for three hours, to breathe healthier air in a different space, to not have the draining energy of this newest, inconsiderate boarder. I could at least afford to do this for myself, to celebrate my survival in a tough, unsympathetic state. That’s an accomplishment in it of itself.

But that’s the reframe right there: survival of losses, not just the losses. It’s what I’m good at. I do like to to triumph over circumstances. It may not be that I got to keep my car or my housing or my bank account at a consistent level. I have survived those losses. It seems right now the triumph is over death, over giving up, over having my spirit decimated.

I’m in a real spiritually desperate place right now. I am desperate for real, meaningful change; desperate to have Spirit move me–both literally and figuratively–to a place where I am nurtured and can be nurtured; to a place of deep fulfillment and appreciation; to a place where I can be fully myself again. I am desperate enough to not solely look to other people to help me. I am desperate enough to shut out the world and to look within for all the treasures that were hidden underneath all of the things I’ve lost. I am desperate enough to not look to myself first and then come to the end of myself–I want to look to Spirit first where there is no beginning and no end.

I’ll be going on a retreat this weekend and I hope that my desperation will be met with opportunities and answers and practical solutions, and maybe a little more patience and strength as I keep journeying from the “here” of discontent to the “there” of “finally!”

By the way, that’s a perpetual round trip we all make, from discontent to contentment.

As the solar eclipse comes closer, I know there’s more coming my way—actually good things, things I’ve been wanting for so long, like stability, like expansion, like love in all forms. Lately, it’s been wonderful to have things to look forward to, not just things to dread.

As I grow older and closer to the midpoint of my life, I feel the pressure of limited time and there’s so much I want to do with my life than just survive. I have to trust that all that I’ve gone through here was not in vain–that there’s a purpose that’s greater than my own soul growth and spiritual development, that the ripple effect will be wider than I will ever know.

It’s really easy to forget, that even within the chaos, there’s some order—even if we don’t understand it yet, like some mysterious fractal that begins to unfold.

I have to trust that this unfolding, albeit painful, is truly both beautiful and beneficial. Otherwise, my life has been utter madness without any method or reason. I’m not talented enough to invent reasons or methodology on my own.

So here I go, with another long trust fall with the Universe. Even as I squirm and question and fret, there’s still a knowing that I am following, that nothing is ever wasted, that at least some of this wild and wacky ride will make sense, soon.

the district

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You know, if I had visited a few months ago, I’d be feeling differently.

This month, I finally made it back to the place where I began…in utero, that is.

When my parents immigrated to the United States, they started out in Arlington, Virginia when my dad was a family practice resident at Howard University. It didn’t last long since I ended up being born in Oklahoma City.

But that’s another story. I had never been to D.C., which seems strange and frankly unAmerican. So when a Facebook friend (whom I knew from this spiritual retreat/event I attended two years ago) asked if someone wanted to drive her car from Miami to D.C., I jumped at the chance. I thought I’d be seeing a lot of friends, see some sights, get some time to clear my head.

What I got was: a clearer head, saw some sights, saw two friends. The best laid plans, right?

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Sunrise at Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

I made my way by Greyhound to Miami and stayed at a hotel on the beach, the Thunderbird. It’s old and not that fancy–BUT THE BEACH. That’s where that sunrise picture came from. Later that day, my friend and her daughter packed up a utility van with two dogs and a cat, as well as my friend’s hatchback I was driving, and we headed north on I-95.

My friend was a bit…um…neurotic? Of course she was. It’s a cross-country move. We barely knew each other, and she’s in her 60s. But at the same time, being more spiritually attuned, I knew we were going to be fine, that we could trust each other. Still, I tried not to be bothered by the frustration and worry (I’m just here to help!). I tried to use my Cancer moon and soothe her while letting her daughter take care of her, which she did. It wasn’t the best planned trip, but for the most part I was well taken care of.

My biggest concern, besides not driving too fast on this fast interstate, was if I was going to be triggered by a healthy mother-daughter relationship. Having had these realization about my narcissistic mother a couple of week prior, I partly didn’t want to see a healthy relationship in front of me, but at the same time, I wanted to observe what it was like to really like your mom and to have your mom really like you.

I got the best taste of it before we left Miami when we went out to dinner. It was so…normal and balanced, but it was a foreign feeling. In many ways, I will never know what it’s like to have that. But how can you miss what you’ve never had?

Besides taking forever to figure out how to sync my phone to the car (because music on a road trip is life), the driving itself was pretty uneventful. (OK, there was this one time I was kinda racing a VW bug in North Carolina, but whatever!) I talked to a friend in South Carolina as I drove through her state, realizing all too late that I could have possibly seen her.

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It’s Pedro from the kinda eerily almost deserted South of the Border at the NC/SC border.

When we got to Fayetteville, North Carolina, later that evening, I had a little pang of jealousy when the daughter had a college friend drive down from Raleigh to hang out. It made me wonder: do I have friends in my life like that now? I’m not so sure. But as I was jealous, at least I felt a little less weird about following that same sort of impulse–“oh, you’re in town; let’s hang out.” Granted, younger millennials have less adulting to do, but still…

This brings me to arriving in D.C. and how bittersweet it was for me. For one thing, I didn’t tell my mom I was traveling, although she had kindly sent some money to help me out earlier. I just had decided that this emotional homecoming of sorts wasn’t something she’d really care about or care to hear about.

The other thing was that I had tried to 1) stay longer in D.C. because I erroneously assumed that with enough time, I could arrange staying for a few days and 2) see people. One friend was out of town, but friends I had known for years couldn’t accommodate and it kind of floored me. I know I’m not in a place to do the reverse, to host someone, but if I was, I would. My trip was rather abbreviated because I had made what I thought were some safe assumptions. I honestly wanted to go to D.C. to hang out with friends, and that’s why my friend picked me to come.

Before we even started our trip, we talked about this very phenomenon over dinner–of friends visiting town–and my friend knew how I felt. We talked about how we both would get offended if someone came to visit our respective towns and didn’t even mention it. I have cut ties with people for this–not because I’m a diva, but because I give an actual shit about them (i.e., it hurts).

So while I drove down Rock Creek Parkway, seeing the Pentagon, the National Mall, etc–basically the nickel tour of Washington D.C. and all the unexpected lush greenery, I felt a little sad, even as I blasted D.C. native Thievery Corporation’s “Lebanese Blonde.” It was great, but it was not what I had planned.

We made it to my hotel (the Omni Shoreham which is AMAZING) where I handed off the car and settled into my digs for a bit before I walked (over a mile) to 14th Street for dinner with a Twitter friend that I had known for a little bit. I’m so glad she came out and we got to see each other face to face. It was a pleasant surprise with yummy food and astro convo.

The next day, I went to have breakfast with a dear friend and got to catch up with her a bit. It was nice to finally see her face to face, too, and there was no weird online/offline switch. It was seamless, like we had been talking for a long time (which we had been). This was what I was craving, like how it had been for me in my early 20s.

It was nice to be back in a city, too, to be able to walk (albeit with a heavy backpack), to go to my bank, to see city people doing city things. D.C. is not as big as Chicago or New York City, and it has a different vibe, like a “we’re doing big governmental things that can change the world” vibe. It was my kind of nerdy. It also wasn’t that noisy.

I walked from Dupont Circle to the White House, which was strange to view for the first time. It was definitely thrilling but it reminded me of seeing Rockefeller Center’s ice rink in New York City for the first time: it was much smaller than what I thought it would be. There were some protesters and tourists milling about, taking selfies in front of the fence. Some young white woman was loudly singing the National Anthem in a minor key (more like off-key). So my little I, too, am America moment got ruined by a wannabe protest moment.

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A view of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial

I’ll skip the rest of about National Mall and how I didn’t walk up the Washington Monument (although I did walk up the Bunker Hill Memorial), or how my jeans chafed me so bad I had sores, or how moving it was to go to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, or how I wished I had taken a picture of Union Station because it was so beautiful, it looked like a museum. I was just glad that I was able to have some Bojangles fried chicken at the train station, that I got on the right train to get to BWI, and that I was able to fly home and have my roommate pick me up and taken my bone-tired butt home. I had done my good deed, seen a couple of friends, and racked up over 1000 miles on Waze.

The friend stuff? Well, vacations, even if they are working ones like the one I had, can be proving ground for relationships. This trip to D.C. made me re-think about my friendships and why I had made these horrible assumptions about certain ones.

I just didn’t feel the same afterward. I felt the weight of the imbalance and have moved on from a few friendships, ones that I knew were already gone, or ones that proved themselves to be not worth the time and effort I put into them. And it sucks.

I care too much, period. And as I’ve been re-learning who I am and what I value, it’s been tough to see how overextended I am in relationships. It’s probably penance for when I felt like I was being too much or demanded too much in friendships. Either way, it’s been unhealthy, and I wasn’t expecting to let go as I’ve done recently. But, I feel better, so that means it was for the best.

This is one of my adulting flaws: I’m not good at demoting friends, or making them less of a priority. It’s like trying to be friends with exes–I just don’t do it. Either we’re friends or we’re not.

I am not the perfect friend, but I want to be a good friend–a better friend, even. I definitely am not the perfect daughter, but I tried to be and failed. And that’s OK–pleasing mothers, narcissistic or not, is an impossible task.

Driving over a thousand miles, I came back home and was feeling not as connected, to my mom or to a few people I called friends. I wasn’t expecting that.

But that’s what was true. It’s not pretty, and I’m not that elegant when it comes to the nuances of human relationships. Maybe I’m as elegant as a butter knife sawing through a steak. But I do want to get better,  so I don’t have to cut and run so often–or at all.

Instead of seeing the world as black and white, a point of view that a a sun opposition moon aspect in astrology can create, I can better perceive those shades of grey, these subtler gradations of where most of us live, just trying to do our best.