Sunday, August 17, 2014

That Was It: On Uncertainty and Unfinished Posts

Now that I've resuscitated this blog and discovered that it actually has - or, at least, once had - an audience, I've been doing a little behind-the-scenes housekeeping: adjusting the layout, fixing dead links, rereading drafts of posts I started but never got around to finishing. Most of those unfinished posts are little more than a sentence or two: an idea I once had but never elaborated on or maybe a link to something I'd found interesting (but, apparently, not interesting enough). So you can imagine my surprise when I came across a lengthy, unpublished and nearly-complete post I'd forgotten I'd written in 2011, on the night before my road trip.

Considering what an effort it can be for me to write, it's rare I'll take the time to pen an entire post and not publish it but that's exactly what happened. Reading it now from the safe vantage point of the future, I can see why I chose not to share it. It's deeply personal and its tone is a departure from the purposeful bravado of the confident-sounding posts that would've surrounded it. I mean, if you read my blog the way it originally ended, I seem pretty fearless:

It was so convincing that I acted without hesitation, I eventually ended up believing it myself. But, as you will soon read, the truth was a different story.

In reality, I was terrified that I may have just wasted 4 years of my life and that I might now be rushing in to waste the next few. On top of that, I'd just gone through a bad breakup - my first in an era of social networking - and wasn't handling it well. In an world of Twitter and Foursquare, it's a lot harder to just throw some memories in a shoe box and move on. (It's also a lot harder to be honest in a blog when one's ex might still be reading.) I was so full of doubt and sadness that I felt compelled to write about it but just didn't have the courage to publish it.  Until now.

What follows is the original, unaltered post: Kenny Loggins' video and all. If you're going through struggles in your life, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone and, as I now deal with trying to be a writer/performer in Los Angeles, I'm grateful to be reminded that I've survived uncertainty before.

This Is It
(originally written 7/2/11)

Chikkita pa, chikkita pa...

Here it is, the night before my big road trip. I'm hoping to leave first thing in the morning and I'm about as packed as I'm going to be.

Had my pre-employment physical for Carnival this morning. It went well, I guess. Here's hoping that they didn't forget anything and that my being on a Paleo-style diet the past few months hasn't made my blood one step above bacon fat, rendering me incapable of working on a ship. ("Rendering"! "Fat"! I made a funny.) Last thing I want to do a few days into my cross-country drive is turn around for more testing.

Went to REI after the physical and got my National Parks Pass. Really looking forward to spending some time deep in nature and away from a cell phone signal.

Packing went alright, I guess. I somehow managed to sell all the major items (bed, bike, bookcases, other things that don't begin with B) but, when my attempt on Wednesday to pack the rest of my belongings in the car ended up not being the resounding success I'd hoped it would be, I had to give a lot of stuff away. Luckily, I've got a job waiting for me on the other side of the country so that helps ease the loss. A bit.

The fact that I'm actually done the evening before my departure and not packing straight through 'til dawn is pretty amazing for me. The last time I had a panic-fueled "oh-shit-I-have-to-fit-all-of-my-stuff-into-HOW-much-space-and-by-WHEN??" packing session was in Japan at the end of 2006. I packed the entire night, had to ship several boxes at great expense and then, not only did the poor taxi driver have to wait a half-hour for me to come downstairs but, on the way to the airport, I made him stop by Tsutaya (think Japan's version of Blockbuster) so I could drop off some DVDs I'd forgotten to return. It's always been a source of great embarrassment to me how poorly I'd left Japan and I promised I would never leave a place so terribly again.

Thankfully, my getting ready for this trip - while incredibly stressful - went a lot better than my leaving Japan did. Of course, like so many things in my life now, I wish I were handling it better but, in the grand scheme of things, I guess I've done OK.

I'm thankful for all the extra time afforded to me by the Carnival audition and a gracious landlord (who continues to thank me for speaking English and for not being a drug dealer, which should tell you something about my neighbors) but this last week or so has felt less like waiting in anticipation for my Next Big Step and more like dwelling; moping around as I watched the life I built the last 4 years get stripped away one Craigslisted or hastily donated item at a time. And it doesn't help that my longest and most intimate relationship to date – one which had ended in a sad yet rather amicable and adult way a month ago - had a delayed-action fuse that detonated spectacularly in a booth at a restaurant a few hours after I got the news that Carnival had hired me.

May as well be honest, handling all this at the same time has been damn tough. The bare walls of my nearly-empty apartment have acted like an echo-chamber, amplifying the stresses in my life. Too much time alone, too much time having to let go of things I'm not ready to be without. And seriously, after my 4 years in Seattle, you'd think I'd have more of a support structure out here to get me through all this but, you'd only think that if you haven't lived in Seattle. It truly is a terrible, terrible place to meet people.

Seattle's always been a mixed bag for me. Hell, it was only supposed to be a stopover! Sure, it's a great city but the winters are too dark and the summer days much too long for this Florida boy. Seattle's full of open-minded, fashionable, liberal-minded people who don't want to make eye contact with you, much less build a friendship. I've spent the last four years trying to earn an exit pass out of the Emerald City and, now that I've got it, this melancholy little town is not letting go without a fight.

Don't get me wrong, I will miss Seattle. I'll miss Alki Beach. I'll miss my favorite coffee shops (including the one where my now ex-girlfriend did the very un-Seattle-like act of introducing herself to me). I'll miss the concerts and the book signings. I'll miss jogging around Green Lake and through Discovery Park. I'll miss the hell out of having my brother Ken living just up the road. I'll miss those few weeks of perfect weather in the summertime that make everyone forget the months of gloom. I'll miss being Molecular Matt and being that B&N bookseller that none of my co-workers could figure out why was so happy all the time despite working retail in his 30's. I'll miss those days that Mount Rainier makes a surprise cameo appearance. And I'll miss a city built around a Space Needle and framed with snow-capped mountains. Part of me is confident that I'll be back here in some capacity one day but, I'm also fully aware that it'll never be the same. It's time to move on.

For some people it's easy. They can just let go and embrace whatever's next without a second thought (or at least give a damn good impression that's what they're doing). I swear to god I don't know how they do it.

Then, there's me... silly, emotional sap I am. My extreme emotions make me nice, fuel my writing, give me creativity, make my highs really high and my lows crazy low (usually at the same time) and they make it tough as hell for me to just. Let. Go.

But I'm doing my best.

Before I close, big thanks to Ken for always being there for me and for letting me use his truck; to Casey and Tracy for the support, the drinks and the hangover; to Kelly for his humor and genuine enthusiasm; to Kate for the jazz and the ego-boost; to Sean for being so flexible with my apartment; to Lisa for her remarkable ear and passionate concern; to all my coworkers for putting up with my damn chipperness all the time; to my neighbor for unwittingly letting me us his internet connection right now; to Rachel for the mixed blessing of so many great memories and to Seattle for giving me the honor of calling it "home" for a while. Thank you.

Anyway, time for sleep.

I've got a new life to start tomorrow.

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