I have a cold. My voice? Gone. Sort of. Well, it’s a little bit there. Just…huskier. Scratchier. I sound like Kathleen Turner, okay? Except a bit more manly. Like, picture me with a cigarette in one hand and a highball of whiskey in the other. Also, I’m rolling around on a grand piano.
See? It’s a very sexy picture. You know, minus the kleenex and the way I have to breathe through my mouth. And also minus the way I forget to breathe through my mouth and end up choking for air.
Aside from all of that? H-O-T. Hot. Who wouldn’t want to Get. With. THIS??
I’ve lived in Seattle for almost a whole year now, did you know? So now it’s time for another round of Where Was I One Year Ago? Which, you know, is one of my favorite games of all time ever. Aside from Guitar Hero. And Goldeneye. A year ago, I was getting the news that I’d been granted the transfer to Seattle. I was packing up my apartment. I was making living arrangements with a new roommate. I was, in short, FREAKING THE HELL OUT.
I want to talk about the things I’ve learned in this experience thus far. But…I’m not gonna. Yet. Today I’m going to focus on something I’ve noticed in myself since moving, something that actually bugs me a lot. You see, I’ve done gone and turned timid.
I have *no* idea how this happened.
In Texas, I lived by myself for nearly a year. I looooved living by myself. I went out when I wanted to go out, stayed home when I wanted to stay home, stood up for myself against two crazy bosses to whom integrity was a gray area. I was ballsy. I had chutzpah.
Then I made the ballsiest move of all; the one that landed me in Seattle. And it didn’t *seem* all that gutsy at the time, honestly. It still doesn’t. My path just took a turn toward the Pacific Northwest and I willingly followed. I didn’t really think about the fact I was leaving my community behind. I didn’t wonder too much about what would happen when I got here.
You know, until my sister and I were about 3 hours outside the city. Then I began to get…nervous. Squeamish. Scared out of my ever-lovin’ mind, y’all. And I’m not sure if I can pinpoint it to that exact moment, but somehow, over the next few weeks and months, I began to shrink. I would go to work, come home, and be asleep by 9. I hid.
Part of it was fear. I was living with a new roommate, one who I didn’t want to upset. I wanted to make that living situation work. I did everything I knew how to do in order to be a good roommate; I baked tasty treats. I cleaned up after myself. I offered rides to airports. I watched my roommate’s pets. I tried to be kind and to listen and learn and support.
The roommate situation ended…badly. Suddenly, I was faced with Unkindness, the likes of which I didn’t even know existed. In one moment, the entire support system I’d built here in the city came crashing out from beneath me. I had never felt so alone in my entire life.
So I shrank some more.
Enter Miss D. Poor Miss D. She had no idea when she signed on to live with me that she’d taken on such a shrunken wreck. The day I moved in with her, she invited me to the birthday party of one of her closest friends, Boz. I didn’t know Boz. I didn’t know anybody who was going to the party. I barely knew Miss D. And I did *not* want to go.
I had this new roommate. One who seemed genuinely kind and who seemed to genuinely want my company. One who had genuinely made me dinner the first night we shared a home. I very much wanted to be someone of whom she thought well, someone she would want to be around. So I put on my Sassypants and went with her. And you guys. I stayed out until after midnight.
Slowly, I began to unfurl. I began to feel safe. Miss D made me feel safe, loved, and even protected. And while we have realized that there is no such thing as the perfect roommate, we have learned the most important things about each other and are able to communicate and disagree and come back together and be silly. She’s encouraged me to step out and now it’s unusual for me to be in bed before 11pm. She helped me create a new network of support by introducing me to people who are genuinely kind and beyond compassionate and loving. And she did so by making me feel steady in myself so that it wasn’t scary if we got to a party and separated.
That’s how I met my friend Erin. Miss D had been invited to a housewarming and, knowing that I was especially good at warming houses, invited me as her plus one. The house ended up being that of two boys who have become such dear friends. I didn’t want to cling to Miss D, so I looked around the main room for someone to talk to. Enter girl in glasses. Enter girl in glasses standing next to Guitar Hero. (Score, I thought. SCORE.) I geared myself up and walked over to her and asked her if she wanted to reunite our band. She did. We rocked. Guitar Hero said so. And before I knew it, I’d made a new friend. A new friend not connected to a roommate. A new friend all by myself.
I began to grow a bit more.
This is when challenges entered my life. Challenges were new to me. I’ll get more into Challenges in another post at another time, but there’s one specific Challenge that really helped me find my footing. Erin challenged me to consider signing up for a class. An improv class.
But then I thought, “What if?” And then I thought, “Let’s just see.” And so I went. And I saw. And it’s scary and hard and I’m having to stretch myself more than I ever have before. But it’s working. I’m bolder. I take more risks. I guess you could say I feel like I found my balls again.
So to speak.
Let’s play the game again. But this time, let’s change it to the If You Had Told Me a Year Ago I’d Be Here, Be This Person, Would I Have Believed You?
Not in a million, you guys.
Because tonight? I actually had a moral and existential crisis just in deciding whether or not to go to my improv class. In the Against column? Oh you know. The fact that I’m germ-y. Contagious. Throaty. I can barely walk across the living room without feeling dizzy and blurry. I should buy stock in Kleenex. Etc. Etc. Etc.
But in the For column? That I love my classes. I am still terrified every time, but the adrenaline pumps and I have so much fun. SO much fun. The people I play with; they are lovely. They are ridiculous. They push me to get out of my head. I’d miss them if I stayed home. I do miss them, as I did stay home.
I’m sitting in the cozy living room of my new apartment; the one Miss D and I chose together. The one in which we spent all weekend hanging art and arranging books and photos. The one in which we are having our brunchwarming in 3 weeks. I’m cozy on the sofa, with Moo at my feet and Miss D at the dining room table. We are typing on our matchy matchy MacBooks. She just got home from the store, where she got me ginger ale, lavender tea, cinnamon bread, and Alka Seltzer Cold Nighttime, which is far superior to NyQuil. I can see the green chair, the one in which she sat with me while I cried for 20 minutes a few weeks ago, and didn’t push me when I couldn’t vocalize why.
I’m alive, in Seattle. I’m starting to recognize myself again. The chutzpah? It’s fighting its way back to the surface.
Pour me another whiskey, sir. I want to go another round on the piano.