A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
When I was 18 years old I graduated from high school and moved to Seattle, Washington, to attend Cornish College of the Arts. I wanted to be an artist. I dreamt of going to Rome, learning italian, and seeing St. Peter’s Basilica. My five to ten year plan included living in an apartments in a city on my own, and pursuing an art career. Although dorm life can get claustrophobic, it was definitely closer to this dream than living on the ranch in Smartsville, California. It’s a huge difference to wake up to the sound of construction instead of waking up to a cow munching grass outside your bedroom window. Living in a city was refreshing, convenient, and exciting! I was on my own and experiencing new nouns (people, places, things). Five to ten year plan engaged.
When I was 19 and had been living in the city for a year, I moved into a little studio apartment in the University District, my first place on my own. It was awesome, right on the main strip, across the street was a grocery store, the next block was a farmers market on Saturdays, and a huge, beautiful park, Ravenna Park, was a short walk away. I spent a lot of time on the trails of that part. If you have never been to Seattle, the parks there were designed by the same brothers who did Central Park in New York City, so yeah, they are awesome. That summer I studied abroad in Rome, and learned just enough italian to confuse waiters, or “cameriere,” at restaurants into asking me, “il menu, in inglese or italiano?” So I guess my five to ten year plan was truncated a little.
When I was 20, I was living in Brooklyn, New York, making work in a studio for an exhibition in DUMBO, and working as a Benefit Coordinator for A.I.R. (Artists In Residence) Gallery, which was the first ever artist-run feminist art gallery in the world. That was also the year I gave away my virginity and officially entered the world of full “adulting.’ While I was in New York City, a faculty member asked us where we saw our lives in five to ten years. It took me a while to come to a conclusion, but when I finally asked myself what I wanted, and needed, I realized that I had accomplished my dreams in less than five years, instead of ten, and what I wanted was actually what I had before I went on this “grand adventure.” My new five to ten year projection/dream was to live within 30 minutes of my family, live in a house with some sort of spatial property and an art studio, have a dog or two, and to be working within the field of art and creativity.
When I was 21, I graduated at the top of my class with my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree. I immediately moved back to my hometown, Grass Valley, California, and began to let the tension ease from my soul after struggling to stay afloat during my college years. At the time, I moved into the guest bedroom of my dad’s house for a couple months while I worked on getting a more stable job then my part-time marketing job and the random demolition and interior painting work. My first week back I went to a crossfit gym for the first time….ouch. My previous idea of exercise was a light mixture of walking in heels and yoga, and then suddenly I couldn’t move any of my limbs. Simultaneously, I joined the funk band my dad was playing in, ELEVATION featuring J Silk, as a backup singer and began performing all around the foothills in local bars and such. I had just finished getting a visual arts degree and immediately moved to performing. Figures. I was still working on achieving that next five to ten year goal but was well on my way.
When I was 22, I got a job working at a local nonprofit organization, The Center for the Arts, as a Gallery Manager and Programs Assistant. I moved into a house on an acre in an industrial area that has a 400 square foot art studio/workshop in it and a huge wrap around covered deck, which is hugely important for the optimal lifestyle (See “People of the Porch: A joyous life.”). I adopted a three-legged cat, Marshall Mathers, who had his leg amputated by my friend, Celina, after getting hit by a car when he was six months old. Don’t worry, he gets around stupendously! My band released our first album, nine tracks of original ELEVATION funk rock! At work I kept getting more and more responsibilities and eventually became the Visual Arts and Youth Programming Manager, amongst other things. In general, I just felt happy and productive all the time. Other than substituting a cat for the dog, I had achieved everything I set out to do on my five to ten year plan. Granted it was extremely challenging to get there: a lot of fighting within myself as well as with my surroundings. But I made it happen for myself.
Now I am 23 and am approaching two years of being in the “The Promised Land,” which is how I still feel about it, and I keep asking myself, what’s next? I put a lot of self-analyzation into this question because it involves so many more: “who am I,” “what do I want,” “how will I get there,” and “what’s important to me?” What, in my awesome life that I have carved out for myself, do I feel is lacking? Other than being financially stable--everyone’s dream--I feel a lack of companionship. The majority of people, friends and family, that I spend time with are couples. I’m like the eternal Third-Wheel, and proud. There are days, however, that come with the feeling of loneliness and, sometimes, hollowness. I want someone who is mine, and me theirs, before anyone else. Is it selfish? Of course it is, but I have gotten to where I am by putting my own needs first above all else. In my opinion, if you can’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of anyone, or anything, else. And the real satisfaction in life is the knowledge that you did, or are doing, something that has a positive effect in this world, right? So yeah, I’m going to be selfish, but I’m going to be selfish with intention. Who knows where it will take me in the next five to ten years?