Friday, March 28, 2014

My Packing List

When I left Minnesota, I was lightweight. Light from dropping off the last bits of a heavy heartbreak, light from selling all of my furniture and light from fitting all that I needed into a suitcase, a backpack and a carry on bag. I took off with my one-way plane ticket running that muggy August day, off and away towards the ocean. I hope that in some way I feel the same relief of the weight of my possessions when I leave California, but only time will tell for sure. I only have a 4-door '98 Volvo, which is much more space than when I came West, but probably less space than I anticipate - how much will I really be able to carry?

Then comes the actual packing of the backpack which I will take across Europe for at least six months. I've started to make a list, hidden in a google doc that I steal away to from time to time and think about all the things I want to bring with me. I've done research on the "best way to fold your clothes" "how many articles of clothing do you really need for an around-the-world trip" and "must haves for the fashionable female traveler" but in a lot of ways, I'm waiting so badly for the time to come when I can actually begin rolling up the wrinkle-resistant clothes and go for it.

What can I carry on my back and what will I leave behind?

Slowly, I've begun to slip my fingers into the ground, find the pathways these roots have grown into and begin to pull them forth from the earth. I've found - and I should not be surprised - how many roots I've grown here which I did not expect. I've been touching the sorts of soil and memories I had happily ignored until it was time to leave. I've been finding deep deep holes of love and emotion I was not prepared for in this dry soil of the foothills in California. I've always known this would be a hard transition and that I could not rip these roots from the ground, but we're honing in on 2.5 months left and there are a lot of things still to do.

I feel like I'm suspended above my emotions right now - looking down at the transition I'm going through and wondering why I'm off kilter. So much is so good. But there's no point in trying to understand the way life is pushing and pulling tonight. I accept that this place is one I don't need to understand and let time move around my fingers like a river. I'll be swimming in the current, my hair being tugged and tangled again soon enough. Coming in and out of focus and riding waves to and from high tide is a part of life, another thing to embrace and lean into. So I'll try to stop digging my fingers into opening the door to happiness for now, and allow myself to sit with my dear friends, eat good food, look up at the mountains when the sun shines just right. Collect the joy and the sadness like pebbles in my pockets, carry them in the seams of my clothes.

For now I'm plotting out maps, highlighting a guidebook, finishing up the packing list. My bag is ready, I just need to wait a little more before I can pack it up. And there are so many lovely people and places here, I'm happy to do just that.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Request

Dear Friends,

As many of you have heard: I have made some big decisions and I am approaching the beginning of a life-changing adventure. I have decided to leave Los Angeles and move home to Minnesota, but before I do that I am taking some personal time to travel and work on the book I have been writing for the past several years. 

I am writing to you today to invite you to help me with this journey, in any small or large way you can or wish to do so. Anything you are able to give would humble me and push me to do better. I am NOT asking you to help me to go on vacation (all of the beginning part of this trip can most certainly be classified as vacation and I am paying for that.) From October 2014 until at least January 2015 I will be in Northern Ireland, working on my book: working title Dear Bird. I have decided that I want to devote myself to my artistic self and to this project I have already given so much to. Frankly, I will never finish the book until I go back and spend a significant amount of time in Northern Ireland, learning with and from the people, as well as devoting time to do some serious writing work. There is no time like the present to take a risk and go for it. 

I am currently arranging a location where I will be able to volunteer in exchange for room and board, in order to keep my costs low. However this most likely means I will be outside of Derry, the city where my novel takes place. The group I am hoping to volunteer with would provide me with a myriad of opportunities to learn about the history and culture of Northern Ireland, but I will also need to see different places and feel them out with my hands and soul. The funds I am requesting will be for travel expenses to get around the country, hostels, food, living expenses, etc for the 3-4 months. Depending on where I am at at the end of the volunteering stay, I may wish to find a writing residency where I can work for a few weeks to a month while it is all fresh. 

My goal is to not limit myself because of resources, but to keep my costs as low as possible. 

Your help will allow me to fully engage with the culture and experience without worrying about my ability to afford any trips, meetings, excursions or living essentials I need along the way. I will be able to fully engage with the writing of the story, wherever that leads me. 

I have created a Go Fund Me campaign page, where you can donate to me and the money will come to my bank account where I will allocate it only towards this portion of my upcoming trip. Unlike other crowd funding websites, I do not have to meet my goal to receive the donation you choose to give me. The link to this page is:

Attached to this email you will find a writing sample from the book, as well as story of how the novel formed and where I see it going now. 

Please ask me questions, tell me stories, help in any way you feel is appropriate. I thank everyone for the love and support and promise to keep my little corner of the world posted on the journey I am about to embark upon. Feel free to pass the message along, and to follow my blog as I keep it updated on the journey as it happens. 

Peace, joy and love always,
Katy Cashman