Thursday, August 15, 2002

Ah yes, being alive again.

It was a slow going process, and I don't know how long it will last, but I'm enjoying being somewhere that I haven't been for a while.

The City of Hope.

All of us have one inside us, bustling and vibrant, populated with inhabitants that jubilantly echo the city's mantra, "You're going to make it!" Each one of us has a unique road map that leads to this elusive city. No two people take the same path, but everyone travels it on their own. Of course, we are allowed to ask for directions on the way, but ultimately we must find our way to Hope on our own. We are all born with it, but some of us wander into the surrounding woods and get lost in the thickness of the branches. Disoriented, we wander with our path shrouded in darkness and every turn we take seems to lead to nowhere.

I think I may have found Hope again.

And I'm enjoying being back. I've settled in nicely in Baltimore and have already applied for three jobs. Since I've been here for a total of four days, I think that's pretty good. I know that I'm in the honeymoon period of relocating, but it's my attitude where I've noticed a big change. Depression hasn't paid me a visit yet, and I'm optimistic about getting back on my feet financially. Basically, I'm optimistic about me again, and that feels great.

I believe that driving across country was a great experience for me to have at this time. My two cats and I traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland. The landscape was incredible. Arizona provided everything from a Mars like terrain with red desert dirt and rocks that spread across the horizon for as far as I could see, to pine and grass covered hills. The land baked under temperatures that topped the 120 degree mark, but we stayed cool in the car with shades on all windows but the front, and the air conditioner cranked up to maximum. The Honda's temperature gauge held its position, never moving above it's normal running point. At one point, I was so taken by the colors in the Arizona desert that I pulled over and picked up as many rocks as I could find that represented the beautiful colors that I saw. It was 115 degrees outside at least, but I was roaming around in the middle of nowhere, and I mean nowhere, my feet crunching on top of the red rocks as I picked up stones. I wanted the real thing so I could know the colors in case I ever decide to paint the desert, and also to have something so spectacular created by nature. Breathtaking, literally.

I made a short side trip to the see the Meteor Crater, a mile wide impact crater in the middle of the desert that formed almost 50,000 years ago when a meteor slammed into earth. Amazing that they considered this a small impact compared to some other craters known to be on earth.

As I neared the grassy hills, a wild thunderstorm struck with torrential rain and lightning that reached across the sky like a witch's fingers. I cracked my window and stuck my hand out to feel the warm drops and smell the moisture and ozone. After the storm, a spectacular sunset looked like a painted canvas in my rear view mirror. I arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona around 7:30pm, unpacked my car and carried the cats into the room. They explored the room while I tried to figure out where to get something to eat.

Flagstaff was a strange town, at least where I stayed in the Motel 6. Around 9:00pm, I decided to try my luck at finding dinner. I followed the street that the hotel was on and finally settled on a Taco Bell. Not my first choice, but it was food and familiar. As me and another car with out of state plates drove toward the drive through, the sign darkened as did the drive through window. Seems that Flagstaff closed down at about 9:00pm A train track literally ran right beside the hotel in front of the parking lot, and each train that passed by blew it's horn right at the motel, it seemed. This wasn't a pleasant horn, but a blaring, obnoxious, and nerve shattering horn that filled the room and drowned out any noise inside. After that, the roaring sound of the train filled the room, not much quieter than the horn, shaking the bed and windows. I hoped there wouldn't be many trains that night. My hopes were shattered, about ten times through the night as I was rudely awoken from sleep. Word to the wise, if you plan to stay in a hotel in Flagstaff, ask about the proximity to the train tracks.

That morning, I woke up to an empty parking lot. The night before, it was full of cars, but mine was the only one shining in the sun. Another indication that I am a later riser than most. As I packed my car, another train roared by, carrying tanks painted with desert camouflage. A sign of the times. I took my time, making sure I left nothing behind, and was on the road by noon to Amarillo, TX.

But back to Hope. I am feeling good, but I am aware that the forest looms on the fringes of town, ever inviting and enticing. It will be up to me not to wander too far from the city lights.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

I got my move date on Friday, and it is tomorrow.

I don't go, but my furniture does. I've spent most of the last two days packing, looking in closets, under beds, in all the rooms, and taping up more boxes that I shove into the garage to await transport. Luckily, I'd started this process two weeks ago, so it's mostly tieing up loose ends and double checking so that there are no big surprises. Reese, who works at Home Depot. bought some boxes and brought them home to me at my request, just to have extras if needed. Of course, I will reimburse him.

It was hot again yesterday, way over the 100 degree mark, and I went to get my hair cut at Fantastic Sam's. I just wanted a trim, and I got a damn good one for only $13.95. It was refreshing, being in a no frills salon. I was in and out in just over twenty minutes, unlike the usual commitment it takes in a fancy salon. Once you've been through checking your clothes in a coat check after changing into the smock, to the consultation with the stylist, to the assistants washing and conditioning your hair and getting you water or a coffee, the time it takes for the stylist to cut your hair, then back to the assistants to style and blow dry it, you're in for a good two hours and owe a hell of a lot of tips to different people. Not only that, I've never been satisfied with a haircut that I've gotten in Los Angeles but for a couple of times. They are too much into the LA look, and well, I'm not. This was great. I bought a blended beforehand, just walked in without an appointment, sipped it through the cut and didn't get a blow dry. Cost, under $20.00, including tip. I figured the 100+ dry heat would take care of that, and it did. Since I have natural curls, I can do that. And, I tipped only one person. The one that cut my hair.

I stayed up late last night, and therefore woke up in the early afternoon today. It was today that I felt my first pangs of nervousness in my stomach, and they will not leave. I hate moving, even when I am physically prepared for it. Because, one is never completely emotionally prepared to move and I am no exception.

So, I'm going to heed my therapist's advice to "eat." When I get under pressure, I tend to forget to do that. So, I'm going to go to a favorite coffee shop for one more visit and pack down a meal. This is a real coffee shop, in that it serves real food, and breakfast all day. I used to go to it when it was just a coffee shop in my neighborhood, then all the hipsters and stars started to come after it was featured in the movie Swingers and it went from a quiet and strange Hollywood Hills coffee shop to a see and be seen place where you had to wait for a table. Fortunately, I go alone and sit at a stool at the counter like you're supposed to in a coffee shop. I've been joined by celebrities there, because you sit with your back to the crowd, and no one bothers you. They have their reasons for wanting that, I have mine.

I haven't decided on my actual leave date. I'm flirting with Friday, but may want to move it up a couple of days. I find myself just wanting to get on with it. That means I am ready, and that is good.

Okay, I'm off to turn my back on a few hipsters at the coffee shop for the last time.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

I think I've pulled about every muscle in my back and arms.

I've been lifting, pushing, and sliding down the stairs heavy boxes of all sizes. Strangely, my ankles are sore along with my shins. I have no idea what caused that, but I'm not happy about it. Back muscles are tolerable unless they are tight due to stress. The muscles around your shins and ankles emit a much deeper and throbbing pain. As I type, the left one is having a field day.

However, I'm surprising myself with how organized I am for this move. I still have no move date, just that it will be in the span of the 10th through the 14th of August, but that hasn't stopped me from getting packed and organized. Come move day, I don't want to lift a finger. I said that last time, and ended up lifting several. Not this time. So I'll do with just one lamp. And, I mailed my winter clothes to my mom's a couple of weeks ago, so no worries about those. I still have a few framed pictures to pack, but am trying to take care of the more awkward stuff to pack first. My once cramped room is definitely more spacious, but the clutter problem is just as bad. I figure I'll pack a few more boxes tomorrow and maybe mail off another clothing box to mom. The thing is, it costs money to do that, and I want to have plenty of money for the trip.

As I packed my stuff tonight and tried to tape the boxes quietly as Cathy and Reese slept, I wondered when I was going to see it again. Yes, it will be stored at my dad's house, but I wondered when I was going to be opening those boxes to enjoy or put to use everything I was packing. It's sad, thinking that. It feels like I'm storing away part of my life and the familiar things that I've become so accustomed to seeing. When I moved here, I got to take that stuff with me and use it. With this next move, I will have very little of it with me. I am taking with me in the car things that I cannot do without; my computer, photo albums, music, and of course my beloved cats. I bought them extra big carriers so they can move around in the car, yet still have a space where they feel safe.

I had my car serviced last week from head to toe to make sure everything was okay for the trip. The service took all day, and I walked to the local mall to see "Road to Perdition," a film that I enjoyed very much. Before the film, I fell asleep in the Honda dealership, much to the amusement of the car salesmen. One of them, an African-American man woke me up when he made a joke to me, asking me if the accommodations were to my standards. I looked at him groggy, and said "Sure, can I get some room service?" That one got a laugh out of the group in the lobby. I looked at the clock, and realized that I'd dozed off for an hour. When I learned the service would take all day, I went to the mall. After the movie, I walked into the Barnes and Noble, (not the one I worked at) and got a mocha. I thought I'd feel some kinship to the people who worked at Barnes and Noble but didn't. The booksellers there were older and a little bookwormish, unlike our store where we were more hip and lively. These people reminded me of librarians and depressed the hell out of me. Bland clothes, bland faces. So, I walked out and wandered around. I should have seen another film, but didn't. Instead, I walked around feeling very out of place and stranded, because I was.

I was in a strange place in Thousand Oaks, and felt like I was very obvious as I walked around with nowhere to go. It's not like I could afford to shop, so that took the fun out of it. Finally, I went back to the dealership and you guessed it, fell back asleep.

I'm glad that I got that over with as well. I'm dreading move day. That will be the worst, I think.