If 2015 was my loneliest and bravest year, 2016 was the year I hustled into the void.
But first it was just a void. I went from feeling my deepest, to nothing at all. So I chipped away at the days moving from bed to bath, bed to bath.
I only started to feel real again when I began volunteering at In Other Words, a local feminist bookshop, community center, and safe space.
In February I went to Manila to visit my father's grave. I don't know that I'll ever write anything greater than my last and only love letter to him. I went believing I had no family left there, but leaving knowing that wasn't true.
Spring felt like a season lost to small moments but in the kindest way. I went on walks, foraged greens, happened upon fields of wildflowers.
And before I knew it, I dove into my busiest summer. I drove up and down the coast, then up again, and further up, still. The ocean will always be my home.
"You're burning the candle at both ends," my doctor said when I came back from flying around the world. From San Francisco to Jakarta, Bangkok, Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen, and back to San Francisco. There wasn't a moment I didn't feel tired and wild.
And summer ended, but the rush never left. I was still swamped, frantic, and trying to balance seeing and being everyone, making and doing everything. And I don't think I've stopped just yet, either.
And I'm stilled tired, but 2016 helped me find my voice. I'll never not be angry about the state of our world and what we've let it become. I won't accept this as our status quo. And I won't apologize for the discomfort.
But I also felt the most whole and the most heard when I started speaking without apology.
I never felt lost, but I was never quite sure where I'd gone. Creating with purpose, surrounding myself with women, and taking up space with people of color brought me back.
I'm here and I'm ready.
It's been a while and I don't have any excuse other than it feels like my backlog snowballed into a backforest and I grew so overwhelmed I didn't know where to start. I kept thinking that this next post would be the one where I finally felt understood, where my future would feel bright and clear, and I could skip on my merry way into the sunshine of the ever after.
That's a lot of pressure to put on a blog post.
And so I'm here, recognizing that I will probably never blog everything I've held in my heart, but also realizing that if I don't share anything, I'm not even giving myself a chance. My hope is that in sharing my imperfect more often, my nostalgia will take over and imperfect it may no longer be.
35mm Ilford B&W film with my little Minolta around mostly Portland but with a Seattle cameo
Did I mention I live in Portland now? I do. It's been complicated-- these past few years. I suppose the moving started two years ago. First it was every month or so I'd come up to work or visit. Then last year I essentially lived here but all of my stuff was back in San Francisco. And then on the second day of this year, all of my stuff came up, too.
And even with all of this time to transition, I'm still getting used to it. I'm finding my spots, how to get around without a car (except when dear friends give rides/let me borrow theirs *insertthankfulhandemoji*), working from home. I'm slowly putting a home together, filling it with all of the green life I can find for cheap.
But more on that later. These photos are from late last summer (October is still considered summer back home). I'd just gotten back from Europe, was about to head to Mexico, and needed to get my film developed before I left the next day. So David and I went to one of my favorite spots during my favorite time: the pier at golden hour.
I'm still figuring out this whole film thing. I have my dad's old Minolta and I usually shoot with a prayer that everything will turn out. I'm glad it did this time. Now I want to blow them up and frame them so I can have pictures of home in my new home. That'd be something, wouldn't it?
When I finally arrived in Dubrovnik, I'd been traveling for 20 hours, I'd just missed the bus to my listing, and my backpack had broken the second I got through SFO security (read: I spent a good chunk of those 20 hours "hugging" my backpack because it was unwearable and unsecured).
I was about to spend the next few weeks on the other side of the world traveling alone. The realist in me was keeping count of the things that had already gone wrong, but the romantic in me had visions of bravery and self discovery akin to my own version of Cheryl's trip on the PCT. This was a new chapter and its entire contents were up to me.
As fortunate as I'd been to travel to Europe several times before, I still took a moment to think, "Holy shit- I'm in CROATIA." I was a tiny thing in the middle of an ancient world-- nothing I "discovered" would be new except for whatever I could find within me.
That weighed on me. What was I going to do if I didn't have some big self discovery by the end of this stint? Am I supposed to feel my life changing now? I went to bed late and woke early-- I'd imposed more pressure on myself and I hadn't even left my listing. I got out of bed and stepped onto the balcony. All of my thoughts and plans and ideas of what this was supposed to be didn't mean anything anymore but this-- this in front of me-- was real.
Photo: My first Dubrovnik morning on film.
The Amalfi Coast is like another world-- in about a million ways. Buses come and go as they please, restaurants and shops operate on their own agendas, and locals carry on as if nothing has changed. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for anything south of Rome.
Admittedly, there were hiccups. When you depend on public transport and all lines are unpredictable, you can't make plans. It took a while to get to this point, but the coast is best when you let go of your schedule, find a secluded inlet, and let the Mediterranean waves guide you instead.