Tales of a wandering lesbian


I like traveling.  A lot.  I like seeing new things and meeting new people.  I like the actual travel, too.  I’m like a little kid every time I climb on the airplane.  I’d ask if I could say hi to the captain if they’d let me, and I have to refrain from asking for a set of wings – every time.

When I sold my house and decided to go traveling, I knew some of the things I was getting into.  I thought about the loss of language.  I agonized over leaving my house and also over leaving my home.  Traveling through Italy, I experienced the newness of a foreign environment and the challenge of not having my own place.  I rejoiced in the magic of timeless cities and grieved the aloneness of my experiences.

And I wrote.

When I returned, it was to a set of familiar places.  Places that had been mine, but that no longer were.  It’s a strange feeling not knowing how to answer the question, “where do you live?”  That’s something I hadn’t anticipated.  I know it’s pretty basic, but I didn’t really think about it until I booked a room in a hotel in the city I considered home.

And I stopped writing.

Yesterday, I packed for a trip to Hawaii.  (I’m tagging along with my parents again, so who knows what will happen this time.  Maybe I’ll decide to become an astronaut, or a professional surfer – though I should probably get insurance and take a few surfing lessons first.)  I’ve gone to Hawaii something like 20 times on family trips, and know exactly what I need to pack, so I left it until the day before my 6 AM departure.  Which was fine, except for the fact that, while I’d usually go to the closet or dresser to pack, this time I had to make a run to my storage unit.  I had plenty of icebreakers and jeans in my luggage, but my shorts, t-shirts and tank tops were locked safely away in a giant warehouse.  Odd.

I put my cold-weather clothes in a couple of big suitcases, and threw them in the truck that used to be mine.  I drove from the home that used to be mine, to the only physical space that I have any ownership interest in – a storage unit that houses the furniture, artwork and clothing that used to fill my life.

It was a strange experience, standing in the old warehouse, the thick wooden floors powdery from the decades of boxes dragged along, shoved into place.  I was able to find my clothes pretty darn quickly.  I labeled things well and must have anticipated that I’d need to get to my clothes at some point, so they were accessible.  I even ran across some of my super-soft scarves to replace the incredibly itchy one I’d picked up in Lucca.

I grabbed what I needed and traded out the suitcases of winter-clothes.  I lingered a moment with my hand on the saddle of my bike, an old Motobecane that belonged to a high-school teacher of mine, and was fixed up for me by a good friend.  A year ago, the bike was my greatest adventure.  Riding to work was exciting and liberating.  Like anyone who has ridden the same bike for 15 years, I’d take it with me everywhere if there was a practical way to do it.

It was strange, seeing the physical manifestation of my life that was, stacked up, covered in plastic.  It’s unsettling not having a single place that I live, but fascinating to see how little I’ve needed the things that I collected – the chairs and desk and bins of stuff.   I’m interested to see where it leads me.  Stripped of the ability to use language the way I was used to, I found a new voice in writing.  What will I find while I’m stripped of a home?  Right now I don’t have an answer to the question “where do I live?”

But maybe for a little while I can be content having an answer to the question “how do I live?”

In the mean time, it’s time to start writing again.

But maybe I can be content having an answer to the question “how do I live?”

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January 20, 2010   Comments Off on Transitional

White picket fence

Last week, I sold my house. Well, I signed the acceptance papers, so I count that as selling the house.

Don't we look happy together?

Don't we look happy together?

It might not seem like much, but it’s been a long, long journey. After living there for 5 years, I let the house sit empty for almost two years, unable to tear myself away from it. Unable to even rent it. Unable to move on with my life. It took a lot of time, an energy clearing, and a major life change to get to the point where I’m finally ready to hand the house to the next owner.

When I first moved out of the house, I had a really hard time. I cried every time I went back, which made it hard to pack up, clean it out, or do any kind of maintenance on the house. It took a toll on my finances. It took a toll on my relationship. My inability to move on has kept me in a holding pattern, circling my “successes” and pondering my “failures”.

You see, I bought the house right after law school. In fact, I made an offer, sight-unseen, while I was on vacation in Hawaii, one week after taking the bar exam. I lived there the entire time I practiced law – while I worked at the Court of Appeals, while I worked as a Hearings Officer, and when I opened my own practice – in my house. I lived there when I was a political organizer, doing the work I loved.

That house was a symbol of everything in my life I had decided to be. A symbol of the success I had worked hard for. It was part of my “five-year-plan” – the smart investment I’d decided on in my college financial planning course. And, that course was part of my business major, the marketable degree I’d decided to get.

Yay me! I planned my life out at age 20! What’s crazy is that I lived my life according to that plan for the next 12 years. Wow.

Even after I moved out, it took me a couple of years – the time the house was empty – to figure that out. It was a painful two years. Even once I saw the reason I was paralyzed, I wasn’t able to change it.

It’s amazing how effectively we can fool ourselves. A three-bedroom ranch in the suburbs filled with furniture and consumer debt. That was the pre-packaged experience I chose.

I realized something today when I was talking with my boss about my decision to pick up my life and go traveling. For quite some time, I’ve been trying to figure out what I want. I’ve made myself truly miserable searching for the life I want. What do I want to be? What do I want to do? How do I want to live? That’s a hell of an overwhelming series of questions. I’ve been searching for the entire life plan/path/experience that I want, instead of just doing what I want to do today, in this moment. I was so absorbed in the giant task of figuring out my life that I couldn’t see the little things that I wanted. For the first time in a very long time, I know what I want. I just want to go back to Italy. I know nothing after that. I have thoughts about what might happen. I have ideas about what I could do, but the only thing I know I want is to go back. Next to years of agonizing over what life I want to live, deciding to go back to Italy seems like one of the easiest things in the world.

Last week when I was at the house, I had a remarkable moment when I looked around and saw the house as someone else’s home. It’s a great house, and I loved my time in it – but it belongs to someone else now. It will always mean a great deal to me, but perhaps now I will think of it as less of a symbol of my “success” and more as one of my greatest teachers.

I just wish my teachers didn’t make me cry so much. It’s kind of how I imagine Catholic school.

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August 31, 2009   6 Comments


Today’s vocab word is vendere. I means to sell.

Here it is used in a sentence:
“Sono vendita la mia casa, per comprare una avventura! Chiamando tutti gli acquirenti!”

Happy translating!

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July 23, 2009   Comments Off on Vocab