Wednesday, August 31, 2011

California: Week 1

I realize I've been living in California for a week now and have had no chance whatsoever to update this blog. In fact this morning on my bus ride to work was the first time I was even able to really talk to my mom at all, which if you know me, you know that's a long time.

I've only been here a week but it feels like I've been in California for a month at least. Last week was a whirlwind of meeting, greeting and getting to know and explore. I made it to Los Angeles two hours late and got to the hotel where I crashed right away. Came to the apartment the next day and found a almost furnished, not too clean but ready enough for me to move into. The program leaders decided to add a new intern house, several more interns and more projects to the program within the last month, so there was apparently a panic to find and fill the apartment I'm living in right now. It's a great little place, according my standards. Two floors, two bedrooms, lots of great furniture - considering it was all donated by church folks within the last two weeks - and a little patio area where I plan on growing some plants and herbs.

The other twenty interns I'll be working and living with are really great. We're diverse geographically, spiritually, racially and in several other ways. So far, it has been good. The first four days of the program were filled with a lot of time with inters (see 12-hour days of getting to know you games and orientation materials). This weekend we went to Venice beach. I started work on Monday and everything there has been great, too.

So much has happened its hard to think of all the details I want and need to record, so for now that'll be all. I'll post more particular information about what's been and will happen as it happens. For now, all is well. I'm happy, busy and absolutely in the right place at the right time.

This is Glendale, the city where I live now, not far from my house

That's Christina, Sarah, me and Hannah. We live together in Glendale House.

Downtown LA from the Dodger Stadium.

Downtown Glendale.

Venice Beach, CA.

Muscle Beach! It was empty for some reason when I came by.

Along the Venice Beach boardwalk, the "world's smallest front yard."

Mine and Sarah's bedroom.

This is St Mark's the church we're associated with and where all the amazing furniture came from.

Dryden St E, the street we live on.

The apartment building! I'll post pictures of the front patio when we've got furniture and plants out there... once my vision from the space has been accomplished.

Living room, from the kitchen of the apartment.

My new office at the food pantry!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Leaving Minnesota

Everything is packed. This is what I'm taking with me across the country: 

So here I am: leaving again. I've been thinking a lot about the act of leaving, about saying goodbye and how I've almost gotten used to it within the last few years of my life. It's not like when I was a sixteen or eighteen year old, saying goodbye to friends felt so empty and hollow, like space was missing from my life. Now I feel so confident that the people who matter to me and who are essential in different times in my life will come back into my life when they need to, saying goodbye is not so hard. Maybe I'm jaded, but I've said goodbye to say many people I have been so close to at different points, and whom I have never seen again that I feel comfortable knowing that people are in your life at certain times for certain reasons, and I know they will continue to be as needed. Loving people for who you knew when you knew them and letting them pass out of your life at appropriate times is important, too.

I feel so ready to go. This summer has been everything I needed: there has been a lot of sadness, but so much love and joy from my friends and family has come to me as well. I have worked through the worst of the sadness I felt in Venezuela and have felt strong and healthy for the last month. Leaving the Depot and all the memories and story that place holds once and for all will be exactly what I need. I have my last night in the club lounge this evening, then tomorrow at 10:30 I'll be leaving the lovely apartment I've lived in for the last year, getting on a plane and flying to LA for a year. I am so emotionally and physically ready to go. The time has come for the next adventure and I'm running forward with opened arms!

This last weekend when I was at home for my family's going away party for me and Anna, I took a final walk around on my parent's property, sat on the warm, familiar ground and took some more deep breaths of the fresh Valley air before heading out. This was followed by a beautiful going away party with so many old friends and neighbors. It was delightfully warm and joyful. I love the people of the Valley. I have truly been blessed to have grown up in such a place, and to be able to go home so often this summer. I have spent the week saying goodbye to everyone, going out to dinner or breakfast, giving hugs and furniture. I had a going away party with my friends, which was low-key and pleasant. I will miss my people and community in Minneapolis as well. One day I believe I will be coming back here.

But for now I am off to the next and newest adventure! A job, a house and new relationships and stories await me! For whatever reason, Los Angeles is the next place I'm supposed to go, so I will go with opened arms and an opened heart.

Final images of northern Minnesota...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Official Details

It' been official for a few weeks now, but to make it all clear: I got the job as food pantry director at Friends In Deed Food Pantry in Pasedena, California. I'll be living in Glendale, about 8.5 miles from work and I'll be able to ride the bike I'll be buying asap to a bus, after which I'll get back on the bike for the rest of the trip. I talked to my new boss and she assured me it's a 9-5, Monday-Friday job which is so assuring to think about: being able to go home at the same time every day, make my own dinners each night and not ever have to work on the weekends.

Another sigh of relief.

Here's the website for the site I'm working for:
You may notice my name, or "Kathy" Cashman as Pantry Director already. They have also apparently ordered me business cards and I'm hoping they say Katy, otherwise there could be another name change in my future...

A week from now I will be done at the Depot - though I work every evening until Monday - and in California with two suitcases, a purse and a carry-on. I've sold most of my furniture on craigslist, packed up everything except that last week's worth of things and decided not to buy grocheries but to make do with what remains in my cupboards and fridge.

I'll be living in an apartment in Glendale, and it looks like (from google maps) there is no yard, but possible a balcony. I know for sure I am living with two other girls, named Sarah and Hannah. Many of the other interns that are a part of my program have added each other on facebook and begun talking about things like where we will live, buy bikes, food and what instuments will be brought. Also through goggle maps and street view, I've done a walking tour of the neighborhood already, and you can see moutains, there are palm trees and I'm very close to shops, resturants, yoga studios, bike stores and everything else that I'll want next year.

I am so very very excited! Apparently I'm also anxious because I'm having trouble sleeping lately, but as my mom said, it would probably be worrisome if I was not anxious about moving across the country and starting a new job all alone.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Breaking Up

Breaking up has been like pulling cat hair from a sweater. Every few days again it irritates me, itches behind my eyes, against my skin. And I keep pulling it all off, removing the memories and irritations from me. I collect them in a piece of cloth, tie them securely away from my bed and closet. Before I leave the state I will tie these pieces to my furniture which I sell, burry the memories and swollen tears here in this city to compost and be digested by the earth that changes seasons. While I am gone my heartbreak will fall apart atom by atom and create fresh air and soul for all those left behind here to fall and sow their own love from here on out. My ruin creates the new platforms for all around me, and by the time I come home again it will be a new form, something I no longer recognize as my own past and waste.

In a week and a day this no longer needs to be my story. I will no longer work in this building, wander these streets.

My hands are full of my suitcases, my own stories, clothes and candles. Rocks I picked from the many shores I have stood upon, the oceans I have waited before. My heart swollen and raw, my house left behind, I will follow that path to my own kind of western dream. This is a manifest destiny I had no idea was coming, even as I lay the groundwork, placing stones only as far as I could see, ignoring the fact that didn't know where the light would next shine.

All the jars that line my walls have been unscrewed and the energy is no longer aligning. There are accidents of fate, physically ramming my body in cars and walls. Each day waking up to a world where there is only me in my room, only my skin in my bed. Each day missing with freshness, washing it off in the shower with a new scent. I restack it all, all the jars. Work to rescrew them safe and sound and in new formations. And my life moves on, as does yours. My heart looks backwards and forwards at once, as I wrap it up tight and safe, travel with it to the next city. This is about me, not you. I no longer know why you are missed. No longer understand what I want to take back from you. I only know that sadness such as I have never known swept through this bed, and now I slowly place my house back together. Pull the knots from my piece of the quilt which I stitched so closely to yours; sew them to a new place. And so you go and so I continue. The tides pull us to a fro, the riptide slips me away to new shores.

My manifest destiny is not the life I had planned or hoped for, but each morning breath fills my healthy warm lungs and each day my feet guide me through this city like every other I've found myself in. I tell myself to remain opened. To wrap the heart but to build no walls. Remind myself to move through the air, to pull it to and from my belly, mimicking how the tide will always pull me. I let my fingers give away each piece of you I pull from my life, let it all get taken by the darkness of the past, be eaten by insects in the place I will leave it.

These memories, the places our lives collided, where I nurtured your entrance to my consciousness so tenderly and carefully and now I let you go in the same way you let me go, allow myself to grow into shapes that will no longer fit into your molds for me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gracie and Jason Lee

First, a little something I wrote on the ride back to St Paul this weekend;

Each in our own time and day, we will be married off; us children of the Valley. Us girls who ride horses in fairy processions and tie flowers into each other’s hair, us boys who build houses for our wives and tattoo ourselves together. Each summer, one or two more marry a man who will take them West to fish, a woman who will move into the forest with him. And our circle widens.

We go into the trees around the homes our parents built, barefoot, lace of the wedding dress running across the grass and last year’s leaves as the bride takes the grooms hands. They giggle as they struggle to get the golden or silver rings over each other’s knuckles.

And so our circle widens as we watch each other join with others, hold their new choice close, noses together as they dance slowly across the dewey grass before our parent’s homes. These are the places we all tagged and claimed each other as equals, hurt and love one another as children and now generations pass and extend. Children’s children dance in white dresses there, as the bride and groom move off to shake hands and hug their loved ones.

There is much else to be said, many more stories have been and will soon be told. We each take a vase of flowers from the lace dinner tables and watch them wilt on our kitchen tables in this summer’s suffocating heat.

This weekend I was lucky enough to be a part of an absolutely beautiful community celebration. One of my best friends since childhood, Grace, got married to a wonderful man, Jason, a week and a half ago and they held a community reception, ring exchange and vow ceremony at her parent’s house in Clover Valley, where we grew up. It was an event for the entire neighborhood where I grew up, with all the young people who I grew up with and their parents who I’ve known my whole life.

I of course can’t do justice to a story which I was not a part of, but I do know that Grace and Jason met around the beginning of December and fell for each other immediately. Jason is a fisherman working in Alaska who was spending some time in the Twin Cities with his family. The two of them went for a road trip together in January and after Jason dropped her off with family in Montana, he drove his car right into a guard rail on the interstate. He was luckily fine, but while waiting for the car to get fixed, he made up his mind, turned around, bought a ring and proposed.

I know a lot of people cringe at how quickly this all came about. Personally, I don’t imagine any relationship in my life developing that quickly. But I will be the first to admit that life is full of surprises. I have been proven wrong by what I thought would happen when love comes into your life and it is absolutely impossible for me to feel skeptical or nervous about my friend’s choice when I am in the presence of two people who are so in love and so happy and making a commitment to one another. Seeing one of my best friends with the man she so clearly loves and who so clearly loves her with all he has, is all I could ask for in my life. 

My parents and I before the ceremony.

The path we followed to get from the house to the ceremony.

Notice the J and the G at the top.

Exchanging their vows.

First kiss.

She made her own dress. And they were both barefoot.

Walking back up to the house.

Amazing home made food.

Everyone relaxing after a long hot day.