These five phases, or ways of being, have molded me along this path. Finding who you really are means losing yourself completely, sometimes. Here are five of my encounters:
- The Boston Scale
- Sweaty Angel Wings
- WINE O’ CLOCK
Phase 1: The Boston Scale
Today I’m exploring downtown Edmonton. It’s adorable. I love it completely. Seriously cute, but just so everyone, or anyone reading this knows, Boston was my first big city to set out and settle into on this tour. It’s my favorite, so basically, every place we’ve gone to since then is fairly, and unfairly, put to comparison with the top place in my book. The Boston Scale: It doesn’t hurt that we were living right smack in the middle of the city for our time there. I’d step out onto India, grab a coffee, and walk to the water with my journal and copy of Walden. It entertained all of my favorite things. Everything was historic and beautiful making it really hard to notice the grungy parts. I’m sure I loved them as well as the whole picture: right along with the book stores that were so slanted and well-loved, you really just knew you could trust them. You can’t compare Boston, but I find myself doing it all the time.
Edmonton is rating pretty high on The Boston Scale, so far. Driving through downtown, my first impression is that it’s bright and clean. Its underbelly is well hidden, or maybe it’s properly exposed. Either way it doesn’t seem to tinge, or take-away from the proper and well-done sense of downtown. Pedestrians are busy in conversation with each other as they move along to wherever they’re going. They don’t seem to be rushing to be anywhere really. They’re just conversing deeply and intently, like some sort of productive societal business because it’s not like they’re lost in conversation. Not at all. It’s all very here and now. If I possibly forgot to stop this car at this crosswalk, I know they’d group react like a school of fish because that’s how balanced and together they seem. I get all of that just from driving down my current entry street of 102nd. I park and hop out on foot. Kids are playing and using the playgrounds like they mean it. Like they know what to do. Some of the suburb playgrounds back home look like they’re just for show compared to these guys. Like this is where the kids would play if we let them play outside. These kids are well adapted and trusted members of this Edmonton community. I like that. I respect that.
Phase 2: Sweaty Angel Wings
After yoga tonight I saw sweaty Angel wings spilling over my mat.
I’m feeling adventurous for the first time in a while. Building this mindset is a process. It takes action. I had no problem exploring the real monster cities of 2016 like New York, Miami, D.C., and Boston. Those were all amazing, but I was also still drinking. I am brave and sharper than I used to be in a lot of ways as a sober lady, but this also means that my paranoia and anxiety are louder without anything to calm them down. One of the best parts about traveling to new places all the time in sobriety, is that I remember everything and embrace it completely. I’ve learned that I am capable of change on many, many levels. At first, I had to find a consistent recovery routine to withstand the environmental inconsistencies of tour life. It was important to make settling into myself a possibility first, before I could even think about the next big city adventure. Sobriety is enough of an adventure on its own, I think, sometimes: Hence my very safe versions of exploring in the past three cities, really; polar bears, Starbucks, and yoga studios on repeat.
Those ventures alone prove to be a whole new frontier for me. I look down at my mat to find those sweaty angel wings shining as a dewy silhouette of my body. I’m reminded that this whole experience is an adventure. That is as wholesome and cheesy as it sounds because sometimes we need those kinds of moments. As I become this girl that I’ve always been, it does surprise me to find out what I’m actually made of. To witness myself like a stranger meeting another stranger, it’s sort of a self to self conversation, like this: self to Self:”What have you been doing?”Self to self: “What have YOU been doing? It’s okay. I’m still here, and I love you so much, but seriously, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING? Why did you continue doing these things without asking why you were doing them? Why’d you want to leave this awesomeness?”.
Phase 3: AIRHEAD
“The window to the soul”.
My friend Bubba used to say this to me while staring into my eyes ( I felt he was implying that my lack of eye contact meant I didn’t want to share my soul). Anyways, this beautiful tagline accompanied by him staring me in the eyes made my eye contact issues even worse, somehow. It’s something that I’ve always struggled with, but when the pressure of knowing that my SOUL was going to be exposed as well. Geez that’s a lot of heat for a person who finds an accidental glance into the eyes of another person panic-worthy. This awkward/ quirky part of me helped enable my tendencies to shy away. It was the easiest way to hide my drinking. How do you disappear from a child’s perspective? Simply close your eyes. It just went together. Avoid getting too close to anyone because they might smell your breath, or worse, they might see through into your soul. I knew from my previous run with sobriety that when you’re not drinking, it’s really easy to smell and see who is drinking. Especially if you are completely sober. We are like blood hounds for the smallest drop of anything alcoholic on your breath. With this in mind then, I’m not sure why after going back out I thought I’d be the exception. Me walking around with 3 bottles of wine permeating around me like no one would notice.
It’s the same with quitting smoking: you only smell it once you quit. The extraordinary syndrome is ours. For the ones who love to pretend that they won’t get caught in the trap. It’s a strange place to live when you’re ignoring to survive. When you’re ignoring your own decay in every sense. When something undeniably gross and destructive seems more important than maintaining your soul, your passion, your brain and your integrity. You ignore to forget who you are. You disappear completely. This is the something I don’t want to lose again, and it is very possible to forget what it was like. We are capable of that too. We can lose again if we aren’t careful. It’s not boring to be who you are. What an impossible thing to say! It’s boring to ignore who you are. Airhead: if you ignore what you think and what you feel then you’re an AIRHEAD. Let some of your own thoughts grow in there or else you’ll always look for others to fill your head. I don’t care if that sounds lame. Airheads are lame.
Phase 4: WINE O’CLOCK
It’s WINE O’CLOCK!!!! Grab your gag-gift gigantic bowl-sized glasses of wine!!!!
Is this funny because it’s true? Are we laughing to make this feel normal or pretend that it’s not big deal? It’s harmful your body. Your mind. Your integrity. The person who actually drinks enough wine to get a shirt declaring their love for it maybe should do a mirror test of themselves wearing that shirt while totally hammered. So cute, right!? If you’re always drunk and losing grip on reality should we make a shirt for that to? T-shirt Idea: Always drunk and losing grip of reality! Hilarious. I always knew my drinking was extreme, so I never really liked to advertise it with wine attire. Also, wine puns didn’t go with my impossible Parisian vibe: The one that allowed me to justify cigarettes as artsy for so long. How can you be cool about how much you’re actually drinking with a t-shirt that advertises that you’re already drunk at 11am? What about this t-shirt: My car smells like vinegar from empty bottles of wine under the seats! ! It’s WINE O’Clock ! Adorable. I used to think that friends of mine who advertised their love for binge wining would give me a place to hide under the radar with my drinking, but of course, something serious would always happen ruining everyone’s drinking fun. It wasn’t always just me either…It’s like that scene from from the movie Alfie: Sienna Miller’s character smashes her champagne flute against his in a toast. They shatter glass everywhere. Alfie is not into it. He is no longer entranced by her mystery and allusiveness. She comes undone right there in the worst way, to him. Imagine this only with red wine on brand new white carpets, and alcohol poisoning at a baby shower before noon. That’s when their eyes say, Ah-hah well it looks like WINE O-CLOCK is over Everyone go home, or some of us sleep in the guest bed, or on the couch. Can’t we all just binge drink here like adults?
Phase 5: Japan
“Beneath their curtesy, I detect a deep reservoir of emotion”. –The Last Samurai
I breeze through this department store like a dream. So at home here in this moment. The floor just falls evenly around all sides of me like an endless conveyer belt. I stand in the home and living sections inviting all possible versions of life into my world for these moments. Touching everything from throw pillows to bathroom sets until the track loops me around to high fashion pieces boxed off by glass like the hope diamond or something. Designer by designer I realize I’ve long lost myself in art gallery mode. Forget it. I fall completely in love with here: my own private museum. This attitude sits on my shoulder reminding me that nothing here can stop this now. This art gallery mode spirit guides me to my Nikon camera. I capture inspiration left and right -flexing my creative eye to the extreme. I feel the questions pending from sales clerks who are prompted to act but have no real action to take, so it’s just a bunch of swallowing ideas. Everything is clean and white but the things you’re meant to focus on, so I’ve erased any real sense of up or down. The music is cooler than adult contemporary but just as light and familiar , not new. I know from Lost in Translation that this is looking a lot like Tokyo: except, there are actual conveyer belts to take you through department stores and bring sushi to you. I guess I’m already there a little bit. We’ve already started practicing Japanese. I’ve got one pinky in the door of Japan already. I like that.
(Feature cover photo by Life Magazine, August 4, 1921 : image from Pinterest).