This week is the 2 year anniversary of my move from Arkansas to Oregon. My exodus.
2 years ago I had my car packed up, my worldly possessions, hula hoop included, crammed in almost to the ceiling of my Camry. I was getting ready to drive away, at 4 am, from the house that I had designed and had built. A sanctuary for my little family, of just my 2 kids and I. A house that was a safe place in a time in my life that wasn’t very safe. It would be the last time I would see this house that my kids had been growing up in, the house that I learned to love myself in. That I conquered my greatest fear in. The house where I fell in love with my husband. There would be no more winter solstice celebrations, or wild dinner and wine parties, or any more poetry readings there. There was magic and love in that house.
I drove away on my own, into the sunrise, leaving my precious family behind for a bit, so I could harness the power and medicine of the hawk totem, to go out and scope out new places, to soar high and away, and take the lead when the time was finally right. To follow my intuition on fire. I drove towards the west, away from the pained, stagnant, and oppressed south. I drove for 2 days, and finally arrived in my new city, my new apartment, with the force and might of Mt. Hood in the background, the evergreens outside my window. Alone for the next 6 weeks to start a new life, a new job. To claim my space. To let my hair down, and claim the wild feral woman that had been screaming to get out for so long
These last 2 years have absolutely transformed my family and I. My husband and I are different people than the ones who left that little house in Arkansas. Our relationship is different, and so much better. So much more truth and clarity. I am not the same woman that left Arkansas in 2014. Oregon taught me to tell my story, to say it loud. It feels so comfortable to not be the odd person out in the work place, or on the street, or when meeting new people. The people in Portland are eccentric, varied, colorful, with beautiful and extreme body modifications, with very stretched and altered senses of societal norms, with an open acceptance of others. They all left somewhere with a similar dissatisfaction with wherever they were, and gather in this place, like moths attracted to the light. It feels so freeing and amazing to be rid of Fort Smith, the small stagnant, lifeless city where everyone knows everyone else’s business, and there is so much gossiping and judging, and they will never miss an opportunity to tell you that “They’re praying for you.” It feels good to blend in. To be in a tribe of unsatisfied, rambling nomads, making it up as they go along, challenging the status quo.
Leaving AR taught me to truly let go, to release. To let go of the multitudes of material things that one has acquired. To let go of lukewarm and judgmental relationships with people, people who don’t make you feel as good or as loved as you should be. It taught me that not everyone will react well to see you starting over and doing great when they aren’t involved. To HAVE to let go. But then to know when to hold on to people and expectations and experiences for dear life, the ones that are worth it, the ones that will always be there no matter how many mountains or oceans or miles lay in between. It taught me to understand that I am not to everyone’s taste. And not to give a fuck about that. Leaving the place where I was born and the only place I had known taught me to be brave. To jump in head first. That I can conquer absolutely anything. And that Portland, Oregon is just the first of many magical places that lay ahead. Whatever idea I dream of next is completely possible.
In this place, I met people who I had only looked up to, and looked up to their work, and never thought I could be smart or witty enough to share space with. I met people in the media, in the spotlight, and the lesson there was that, they’re just broken people like everyone else, just trying to get through life. The illusion was broken. I had incorrectly put them on a pedestal. I learned my light is just as bright, and powerful and beautiful as any public figure, and I will always be able to run with the best of them, and possibly even outrun them, and that I, myself, can continually impress.
These last 2 years have been an intense lesson in the balance between holding on and letting go. What a beautiful lesson it is. It has been a lesson on giving myself permission, allowing my wildest aside to flow freely from the heart, and knowing when I reach my edge, that its ok to pull it back in.
Knowing its ok to say no, and knowing when to scream out “Yes!” Knowing that the people in our lives will ebb and flow, and many will only briefly cross your path and then exit, because the paths aren’t going the same course. Knowing its ok to have an open heart from afar. To let my wildest side out, whether that be taking my clothes off in front of a camera in the most raw self expression, or bending the traditional ideas of monogamy, or openly dating other women with the full support of my male partner. A lesson in demanding only the best for myself, bending oppressive societal norms that shaped the culture I grew up in, and that hurts many people, and that gives rise to hate and bigotry. To be a voice for others who know how this feels, and are undertaking the same type of journey.
So do it. You. Jump in head first, give yourself radical permission. Feel it all. Being able to be fully authentic, aware in both the dark and the light, to acknowledge that you will continue to stray from the path and the balance, and yet always be able to pull yourself back on course, with openness and love, and laughter, and good intentions, to love yourself so fully, to send that love back out into the world, that is the lesson, and that is my wish for all of you too.