Almost There

Went to the Post Office today to apply for my passport. Had a gruesome photo taken, paid an exorbitant fee to get it expedited, and filled out all the paperwork. The plan is starting to take some sort of shape now; my last day with my current employer will be May 31st. I’ll probably spend a few days saying goodbye to those in Asheville I haven’t had the chance to see. My passport should arrive by June 9th, but before then, I’m hoping to get down to see my cousins in Raleigh, along with some old friends in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Charlotte. Once I get my passport, I’ll be able to get my ticket. The fates seem to be pushing me up to Delmarva, where I’ll get my high school diploma and my birth certificate certified by the State Department while paying my benefactors offspring a visit before I go.

I’m still…wobbly. Attempting to mourn my old life, distinguish it from what’s about to happen. Attempting to get excited about my new life. Trying not to think too much about what was supposed to happen. It feels. I’m not sure how to word it.

I don’t like feeling less than grateful. This is a phenomenal opportunity, in addition to a life raft. It’s just so radically different from the life I once lived. And getting used to that idea is more difficult than one might think.

Today was the first day it felt really real. This is what I’m doing. In a few weeks, I’m saying goodbye to the States for an indefinite period.

It’s time to buck up.

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Poncho’s Blogging Pattern

  1. Get excited about making a blog
  2. Try to start blog
  3. Realize that I can’t just sign up and it’s all complicated and shit
  4. Make a new e-mail probably
  5. Publish introduction
  6. Post two or three pithy posts
  7. Do nothing for a week plus
  8. Write a post apologizing about not posting
  9. Historically, nothing much after that.

My plan, this time, is to take step nine off that list. I do give myself a little room, given the fact that I’m leaving the western hemisphere for good in a few weeks, so my schedule is a bit tight. Still, discipline in writing is important. Write every day. Waiting for inspiration is a suckers game; get it written, and get it published. Not everything you put to paper is going to be important; hell, it might not even be particularly significant. Doesn’t matter. Write. Train yourself to get in the habit.

Still, I’ve spent the last week being embarrassed by the outpouring of love and support from my friends and loved ones. I wish I had the proper words to express my gratitude to those who have held me, looked me in the eyes, told me they believed in me, told me how proud they are of me, got me drunk, took me to the movies, danced in the streets with me, and on one occasion braided my hair.

Here’s the thing.

I hear a number of phrases. “You’re so brave to be doing this.” “I’m so proud of you!” “You’re going to flourish! This is a great idea!” “Moving is almost always a good idea!” I appreciate the sentiments, and they’re always coming from a place of love that leaves me in awe. But…I don’t share the same excitement, I suppose. The thing is, in my current state of mind, moving to Dubai has the same emotional impact on me as, say, moving to Cleveland.

Don’t get me wrong; I am thrilled by the kindness and warmth of my loved ones who have invited me into their home. I’m looking forward to being a day-trip away from Europe, and being able to explore a greater portion of the world than I ever have before. Not to mention the fact that getting the hell out of Asheville and away from the situation that drove me from my home town will be a relief. However, my excitement is intermittent, and I’m not at all sure what I’m doing is courageous.

For one thing, I’ve never bought into the footloose lifestyle as the best and only way of living. Don’t get me wrong; I love travel, and always planned on travelling the globe. However, I also believed in rootedness; in being tied to my community, in always having a home base, which, in my case, was Asheville. Imagining travelling the globe was thrilling, but I always planned on coming back to the 828, to the streets and skylines, the mountains and rivers and trees of my home. Now that I am abandoning Asheville indefinitely, an idea I never truly contemplated, the idea of sleeping, eating, and living somewhere else is…how to describe it. It’s alien, but impending. One city, in my mind, is very much like another, now that my home is no longer my home.

For another, I feel like courage would be facing down my circumstances at home and continuing to make the good fight. I am running away from my problems in a monumental fashion. I’m leaving behind my family, all my political capital, my reputation, my purpose, my network, and my hometown, along with my broken heart, because I can’t seem to cope with what has happened. When one is faced with difficulty, you can change the situation, accept the situation, or leave the situation. I’m leaving, and it’s not in my power to change, but I can’t help but feel that bravery would be accepting the situation.

On the other hand, I’ve spent much of my life “accepting situations.” My heart, my life, my work, was put on the back burner in order to support others. I kept silent in times of pain to make other folks lives easier. I put my life, my ambition, and my dreams on hold to help lift my loved ones up, or hold their hands during a downward slope. I’ve swallowed my pride and my hurt to grin and bear it, pretending everything was okay. I’m not sure if this was better or worse; I simply know I cannot continue, at this point, to maintain my stiff upper lip.

At the end of the day, I suppose, it doesn’t matter; brave or not, I’m going. I’m certain the excitement will build, and the pain will dull, when I begin to pack my life with new and exciting experiences. It’s just difficult to get into that mindset when you aren’t you, anymore. When your defining features are, in fact, what you’re leaving, along with a city. My heartbreak has literally opened the world to me, but I haven’t found the space for gratitude yet. I’m not proud of this, but I am aware of this. I’m trying to wrap my head around it, look for the silver lining, put on a happy face. It’s just…difficult.

Eventually, these posts will be happier, or at least more interesting.

Casablanca

So you could be out in public with him
But not with me
You can take cute selfies and post them online with him
But not me
 
You took my city from me
You took every nook and cranny
You took the bar where we first kissed
You took the office where we ate while I worked
(The office your new man took over for himself)
You took the streets where we canvassed
The monuments where we protested
You took the venue where you slammed poetry
And the coffeeshop where we talked about childbirth
And union elections
And losing friends
 
You took my purpose from me
You took my ability to be a voice for change
You took the years of work I had done
You took my ability to sit and talk about economic policy
And radical organizing
You took my ability to stump for Bernie and Jill
Because you should be with me when I do it
I can’t even watch a debate without your ghost
Casting me aside like I wasn’t there
While your future boyfriend sat across the room
 
You took my heart from anyone else
Because how can one open a heart
How can one give love so freely
After someone so trusted
Took it for granted?
 
You hid me in a closet
And you used my love to build yourself up
You used my time and my heart
Until you didn’t need them anymore and threw me to the side
And now you want to bury me
Hide me from your past like I’m something that didn’t happen
 
I loved you well.
Can you say the same?
If I say I hope that you are loved
The same way you loved me
Does that fill you with hope?
Or dread?
 
You got to move on.
You got to leave broken promises
Of wedding rings
And raising children
Of fighting on the front lines
And raising a family
You get to waltz through a sea of suitors
Of temporary boyfriends
Of sideline lovers
Until you find him
He’s older
Richer
Better looking
And you can pretend all of this didn’t happen.
 
I’m just a body in your wake
A tissue, holding the ugly
And the hurt
Holding what you needed to cast aside
And being cast aside with it
 
My streets are not mine
And my purpose is now yours
And my heart is hidden
From anyone else who might need it.
 
Was it worth it?
My death on your cross for your salvation?
 
I wish I’d never met you.
I wish I’d never known you
I wish you’d never made a promise
That you couldn’t keep
 
I wish you’d never left
I wish I knew you still
I wish you took your promises
As seriously as I did.
 
You’re the reason I’m leaving it all behind

An Introduction

I started this blog as a way to document my travels. Recently, I came to the decision to leave my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. The reasons are many, and I won’t go into detail here. In a word: I died. My identity, as an Appalachian, as an activist, and as a romantic, have been lost to me. I can’t make a living here, and my heart breaks every day driving down the streets I once called mine. So, when an opportunity came up to move to Dubai, I took the opportunity.

I am leaving my politics, my roots, and my heart behind to set off on a new adventure. This is not an easy decision, but it is one I wish to document. I will be living in the Middle East, starting my life over, processing heartache and loss, dealing with mental illness, exploring the world, and enjoying what I can. I am trying to find out who I am when the parts of me I most valued have died.

This is also a project to force me to write something and publish something every single day. It’s less about inspiration and more about discipline. We’ll see where this goes.