Monday, June 4, 2012

Hanging Up the Neighborhood Shingle

Some of you know I just returned from a nearly 5-week haitus to Portugal. The intention, if I'm really honest with myself, was to find some clarity after a frustrating year of feeling stuck or stymied in almost every area of my life. The trip delivered on its purpose, though some of the more revelatory aspects gave me as much anxiety as they did perspective.

I realized I have a good bit of toxicity in my life (work in particular, but also some of the basic rhythms of urban living in a community that - while incredibly textured and rewarding in so many ways -- can also be bereft of kindness and peace). I'm not altogether happy with the relationships in my life and think there may be some heavy lifting to be done in those areas. As I face what promises to be a difficult phase of my aging process, it seems all the more urgent to solidify a team of supporters -- people who I generally get, and who seem to get me back. People who can forgive my frailties and may even be up to the task of helping me through them, with the promise I'd have their backs in a heartbeat. Not sure I can say that with complete certainty this is true in my immediate circles, despite the fact that every single person I know is truly wonderful, admirable, and rich in so many ways. I'm just not sure I have that one person who's there to cheer me on when I need it, to bear some of the weight when it gets too heavy for me. It's probably less a case of them not being there than of me not knowing how to ask for those things.

In the meantime, I'm utterly exhausted by the sound of my own voice and fantasize about some imposed monkish ascetism: Just a reprieve from the chatter for a good long stretch. So I vacillate between a need for community and a yearning for solitude, which doesn't make me so easy to be around. And that's really the biggest revelation. The work to be done begins at home, and I've got a heap of it to do.

I suppose I'm aching for change. I loved the new scenery in Portugal, but even at nearly 5 weeks, it wasn't enough. There was more I wanted to see, more here at home that I wanted to escape for a little while longer. I could've easily doubled the time, easily stretched it into more cities and towns, perhaps a baby toe dipped into Spain, or Morocco, which I didn't even realize until looking at the map was just a hair's breadth away from home base.

Simpler than that, though, I want a new job, maybe even something that feels like a career. I've spun my wheels at jobs that don't yield much for me the last 15 years or so. Just places to hang my hat for a while until I figure out what I want to do when I grow up. But somewhere along the lines, without my even noticing,15 years managed to pass, and I became a woman in the triteness of mid-life, but still without a sense of direction. I need that compass, but I need a second compass to find it.

And heck, if you'll indulge a brief lapse into vanity, I need some new clothes that don't have stains and rips I hide with layers because I'm too tired and turned off to shop. And I need a new haircut. That should really be the simplest thing, but I just found out the one salon I trust isn't taking new clients because of increased demand. Which is really sort of hilarious. I decide after 15 years of DIY haircuts that I'm willing to pay the money to sit in that conspicuous chair and trust someone else with a pair of scissors, and their "Gone Fishing" sign is out.

But one thing I've decided (at least one thing within my control) is that it's time to pull the plug on this blog. The entries have reached a certain monotony: Hey, look, someone planted some flowers. Someone is rehabbing a house. A new gallery just went in to the east. Blah blah blah. When my favorite martial arts studio on the corner recently became a Boost Mobile, I knew it was time to call it quits. It's a rotten story, one too painful and tiresome to tell.

So this will be my last entry on Neighborhood Watch. I hate to close on a depressing note, but I think this is actually a form of great liberation for me. It's time to take the albatross from around the neck. This was an incredibly rewarding place to spend time these last few years, but now that it's taken its course, it's an opportunity to move on to something new. I'm not really sure what that new thing will be (I wouldn't mind starting with that haircut), but it does give me an igniting jolt of energy to know I may be slightly more open to it with the return of a bit of psychic space.

Thanks to those who spent time with me here on this blog these past few years, those who commented in writing or in person, and those who didn't comment at all, but still occasionally checked in. Reading is a great gift to someone who writes, even someone who occasionally writes clumsily.

I also just realized I disabled the old email account that lets me get comments on this blog, which is actually sort of fitting. I can offer a few final words of gratitude without any added punctuation. So let me now finally say two simple things: Thank you, and Onward.