A Totally Transformative Solstice Week

It’s been awhile, but I’m still importing posts from my old blog like this one from June 2008.

183674_1003284655197_2458_nThis week, my friend Leo came to visit. She left this morning. I am sad that she’s gone, and at the same time, just so glad we had this time together. It was the best. Leo and I have had some wild times over the last eight years of knowing each other – shared concert experiences, drunken debauchery at her house with friends, trips to Seattle, trips to the Gorge, a “porn hotel room” (it had a hot tub, and the doors or windows or whatever between the hot tub and the rest of the room wouldn’t stay shut), rituals of feminine spirituality, trips to Philly with her kids to the science museum, discussions about books and politics and the meaning of life, commiseration over unrequited love. I saw my first Tool concert with her.

I used to call her in the mornings, when Adrian still lived with me and things were horrible and I was careening in desperation, and whisper all my troubles to her. She once took the craziest trip ever (including buses, trains and an insane ride with a friend’s younger brother) to come see me at my parents house in NJ when I was visiting. We’ve turned each other on to music, to authors, to concepts, to spiritual principles, to philosophies, to movies, and on and on and on. This really only scratches the surface of what we’ve shared.

And this past week, or rather, five days really, was the most time we spent one on one. She came here, away from kids, just us. As everything always seems to be with us, getting here was a complicated journey. After driving to the airport, flying cross-country via a connecting flight, getting on a shuttle to the ferry terminal and then taking the ferry to the island, she rode on the bus for the camp I work for (they were picking up some of our international summer staff at the same time), and so came to where I work, saw me in my stupid work uniform and got to eat some premium (really) camp food. And then we walked all the way to my apartment. It was cool, because earlier this spring I went through another decorating, rearranging and purging phase and feel like the apartment is really me now. So it was awesome to have a friend see that.

My boss gave me extra time off, without me even asking for it, which rocked, and we had a blast, non-stop, sun-up to sun-down. We took the ferry to Sidney, BC. I have lived on Orcas for over five years (and lived in Seattle for a few months before that), and in all this time, I have never been to western Canada, ever. I had a passport that had laid dormant for two years. Well, a few days ago, Leo and I got our passports stamped in Canada. It was really cool, the ferry goes right there, then we took a bus, totally winged it, found a hostel, visited a castle, went on a ghost tour, hung out in the hostel lounge drinking, reading tarot and eating samosas. The next morning, we took the bus back to the ferry terminal and began our trek back to american soil. We had to stop in Friday Harbor, and as we are prone to do, spent the whole time we were there in their used bookstore, Serendipity.

We did a fair amount of shopping. In Canada, we bought matching journals and I got some sage. On Orcas we visited the bookstore and both gave in to our insatiable addiction to buying books. It was an awesome experience, being in the bookstore together, because we kept looking at books together, recommending books, talking about this author who references that author, whose book reminds us of this other book, making connections and just feeding each other’s hunger for stories and knowledge and literature. I have a handful of friends I can be that way with, really, really, be that way, and Leo’s one of them. I realized for like the millionth time this year, that the books I’m drawn to almost all take place in other cultures. It’s interesting, when Mr. O and I were together, and this goes along with all that soul-squelching stuff I wrote about in my last entry, I barely read. That is not like me, at all, and it’s almost like now I’m trying to make up for all that lost time. Even during Leo’s visit, whether on the ferry, in the mornings or at night before bed, I was always reading (right now my book of the moment is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver). I’m lapping up words and stories knowing there probably aren’t enough days in ten lifetimes to read everything I thirst to read.

So what else did Leo and I do? Well the one surprising thing is that the one thing we didn’t do was listen to music. We were too busy talking. Or playing with tarot cards. Or dissecting and discussing our lives, our troubles, our dreams (literal and figurative). Or looking through Victoria’s Secret catalogs (which is a bit funny or unexpected for both of us). We went clothes shopping together and got a few hot items each. We did spells with tarot cards, intentions and releases on the night of the Full Moon in Sagittarius. We each went for some energy healing sessions with my healer friend Elynn and had transformative experiences. We looked through a journal that has been passed around in a group we belong to, a journal I’ve had for two years (!!!) and couldn’t think of anything to contribute to. As we were perusing it together, reading through others’ entries, I was finally struck with inspiration, and it’s funny, because in a way, the idea that came to me is, in a way, turning all the anguish I wrote about in my last entry, into a strange form of art. So, that’s cool. I made Leo laugh as I pretended I was going to write obscenely sexual things (I’m a dirty minded girl for sure, but anyone who read that piece in Shark Reef can’t be surprised by that) to someone we know, and we reflected on how different I was from when she first met me (I was really painfully shy then, especially about that sort of stuff), and how we both had grown and changed in the last few years. We sort of individually, independently, in different ways, at different times in the week, let go of old things, massively, and simultaneously accepted ourselves for what we haven’t let go of, what we still carry, and I think we both totally came to a place of peace with that.

It was a week of growth, of change, of deep internal changes. I feel stronger. Really. I feel invigorated. I feel excited about life again, and trust me when I say I needed that. I’ve been in a major funk for months. A funk that has changed shape and tone over the last few years even, and has been especially heavy in the last few months, as I think is somewhat apparent here. I think I’m emerging somewhat, and that it doesn’t come easy, especially when there’s been a lot of dimming of the soul. Today I had to go back to work, and say goodbye to Leo before I left, but you know, I actually felt pretty good at work, even physically, which is a first in a looooong time, a radical turnaround from even a week ago.

Part of it, I think, is because I feel some direction about what I want to do. As a lot of you know, I’ve been considering going back to school, and put it off a year because of financial reasons. I’m really glad I did that, because as this voracious reader in me has reawakened, I’ve realized some things. I’m not so sure that Emerson College is the place for me. It’s still hard for me to say that – I had the BEST time there last November, was just bursting with joy on that campus and on Boston Common and riding the T. I still think the school has the best writing program out of any I’ve looked at, for my particular interests. They offer a lot of classes in a lot of genres, including screenwriting, writing for TV and film, the regular fiction, poetry and non-fiction (with possible concentrations in any of the above), and even offer classes in comedy writing (including a class on writing for stand-up comdedy that culminates in actually doing a five-minute bit at a comedy club). I so would have taken all those classes. I have not found any other school that offers that same wide array of writing classes.

The problem though, is that I hunger for so much more. I want to study everything – astrophysics, world religions, international affairs, anthropology, philosophy, political science, biology or chemistry, psychology, other cultures. And I want to be able to study abroad. It’s not that Emerson has no opportunities in these other areas, just that I feel it’s somewhat limited. That’s not to say Emerson is off my list, that writing program is still enticing and I had such a good feel from the school, just that it’s wavering. I read somewhere that they have some exchange thing with Suffolk, where you can take some classes through that school, and if that’s still true (I read it in a college guidebook that was a few years old), that might help. Suffolk also offers a prison literature class that I’m just plain dying to take.

So in the meantime, contemplating all this, marinating as I called it before on here, another idea popped up that I’ve been exploring, and that is Fairhaven College in Bellingham. It’s part of Western Washington University, except that in this college, students design their own interdisciplinary majors. Which is exactly what I need. My brain is split right-brain left-brain, I’m right in the middle, and I wavered a lot on my major when I was in school, because if I was doing humanities type stuff I missed math and science and when I did that I missed the other things. So interdisciplinary classes and majors sounds hot to me. Plus there’s the option of taking any of the classes that Western offers in any department, so there’s a lot to choose from to make my own major. And they have this exchange thing with a few other schools in the country that also have experimental learning setups, and that attracts me too. So does something called the Adventure Learning Grant, which is all about spending time in a culture very different from one’s own.

And that’s what I want – variety, the whole wide world of learning, travel opportunities, adventure. That sounds like a great education to me, and like it’ll be awesome in the meantime. I want to be living the dream, and this sounds like a way to do that and get a degree and really stretch myself intellectually at the same time.

Oh yeah, and a big bonus is that it’s in my state, and a state school, which reduces cost so dramatically, which is always good. It’s funny, I’ve done many tarot readings about different schools and they’ve always been a bit ambivalent, and I did one about going to Fairhaven while riding on the ferry with Leo, and it came out so overwhelmingly positive it almost blew my mind. So we’ll see, my thoughts may shift and my needs may change, but I’m very seriously considering this option.

And it feels good. Just talking to Leo about it got me all excited to make it all happen, to spread my wings and take flight on new journeys. I feel long overdue.

~Emilia J

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4 thoughts on “A Totally Transformative Solstice Week

  1. Ah, I wish I could have made it out there, it sounds as if you two had so much fun. But, at the same time, it also sounds as if it was a fantastic opportunity for you and Leo to bond in a way that you haven’t been able to through your long-distance friendship, and having another, new, relatively-unknown person there might have gotten in the way of that. I’m so glad for you both that it was such a great visit!The adventures you two have shared sound so funny and crazy and deep, and I think that’s what makes a friendship. That’s what I miss in the on-line friendships I’ve had or currently have– You can learn everything about a person from verbal or written conversation, but you can’t really know them until you’ve had experiences with them, actually seen them laugh or cry or respond to different stimulus. Leo and I have had some fun times together over the last year, but so far I think we’ve got only one tiny, barely visible little scratch in the surface of what you two have. I can only hope that I’ll have the opportunity to develop something similar. As for you and I, we’ve gotta work on the on-line thing! Whether we’ll have the opportunity for side-by-side adventures remains to be seen, but I love the things you make me think about, Chrys, so I’ll enjoy whatever sort of relationship we’re able to have.

  2. Awww Kali, I wish you could have been here too. And a few others. It would have been a blast that way. And I definitely would like to get more time to spend with you in person. Too bad we live on opposite coasts.But you know, I am a traveler, and so I’m sure I’ll see you before long. In fact, I can’t remember if I told you, my brother is getting married in November, in VA, so not sure how far it’ll be from you, but we should try to hang out. Leo also told me about the Sedona/Maynard’s vineyard idea, and I’m soooo there. Basically any sort of travel, I’m up for. And maybe you could come out here when it’s not so busy at work. It’d be awesome.Funny and crazy and deep is right! One image burned in my mind from this past week was the night we were doing spells/rituals with the tarot. We did this one where you write down things you want to let go of, and we each wrote ours down, and then we had to get rid of it somehow. We wanted to burn them, but couldn’t find anything real burn safe in my house (plus it smelled awful when we burned a scrap of Leo’s paper in one of my cooking pots). Next we walked around, wanting to put our papers in the ocean (which is something I’ve often done over the past few years), but couldn’t find anywhere with good ocean access, so we had to settle for ripping them up and flushing them down my toilet.Leo went first for that, and as she was doing it and I was watching her standing by my toilet, I just lost it in silent, hysterical laughter. We were both laughing for a long time after that!It’s funny what you say about the internet. It was always a little awkward whenever people asked me and Leo how we knew each other. It’s like, how do you even begin to REALLY explain, especially to people who don’t enter that world? Sometimes I think you get to know people faster, better, deeper online than you would meeting them in person. Something about the freedom of physical anonymity just lets people really talk, and then you get to really know.I remember, seven years ago (!!!) I visited my friend Kelly in Portland, and I remember when I got off the plane I told her, “OMG my parents would kill me if they knew I was meeting someone from the internet.” I was twenty then, a sophomore in college (and that was not my first crazy trip to meet online folks), and Kelly said to me (paraphrasing) that she thought people intuitive senses were heightened in internet exchanges, and that you actually know people better.I think she’s right. I have now met 33 people from the net in real life (32 of which from the place where I know you, and one, Linda, from an online writing class), and I’ve never been surprised. Somehow I think without the distractions of physical appearance, age, social status, etc, you become more focused. I always felt I could really feel people out online. I don’t mean that in a creepy way, just that somehow I could get a sense of a person’s essence. My only problem was in listening to my own instincts.I also feel (actually this sense used to be stronger than it is now, maybe because I’m no longer online so much, which is a good thing), that I can sense the undercurrent of written words. I don’t exactly know how to explain it, but say I was reading people’s posts, it’s like I could sense something beyond the words, I could feel the feelings that went into it, really feel the emotion. It’s one of the reasons I was always pretty good at picking up on double identities and the like. Again, I find it hard to put this all into words, it’s just that I could always sense another dimension, something beyond or underneath actual words on the screen.In fact, when I first smoked pot, I’d sometimes go online high, and I’ll just say that when I get high, I get really high, like almost disorientingly so. Anyway, I used to have this experience of reading emails or posts and getting so lost in reading, and in feeling the emotion behind the words that I would forget (seriously) who was writing them. I’d be almost consumed with the feelings. It was a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I feel that smoking pot opens my doors of perception a little too wide, like my natural tendency to merge with others, or feel their feelings, or to lack psychic boundaries is heightened. In fact one time I watched House high, and I swear I felt, really, deeply felt what it would feel like to live in chronic, debilitating physical pain the way that his character does. So it’s a TV show, fictional, and I was still like having some psychic empathy or something.On a sad note, I just finished my last piece of the chocolate you can only get in Canada. Guess I’ll have to go back. Leo and I are already planning what we’ll do and where we’ll go on future trips. You wanna come?

  3. Wow Chrys, you’ve definitely captured the essence of our time together. Essence is definitely a word I’d used to describe some of our trip too, its just a lovely word, and it invokes memorable images and scents. I realized the same thing, we never listened to music! But you know what? We didn’t have to. Music underlies pretty much everything, so it was there anyway. Kali – when I first met Chrys after developing our friendship over the internet, I wasn’t nervous meeting her per se, but I was a little freaked out because I had already revealed so much of myself (easy to do online) and I knew I couldn’t hide who I was, which was something I was doing effortlessly with everyone else in my ‘real’ life. And actually, I did lie and she didn’t buy it for one second! LOL I’ll tell you that story this weekend. I think I am slower to get to know off line, but I also feel you and I have had a huge jump start in that dept. #1 reason to go to Canada – the chocolate!!

  4. Leo, just think of all I had revealed to you before we met, hahahaha.Yeah, you lied to me for awhile but I never believed it for one second, at all. Like I said, Caren and I used to talk about it, like, hmmm wonder if Leo will ever fess up. We had figured out without a doubt! But I also totally understand why you did, it’s just that I wasn’t fooled!I always get nervous meeting people for the first time, but so far it’s seemed to just coalesce so easily. I definitely felt that way with both of you. There really wasn’t any awkwardness, or if there was it was so fleeting I don’t remember it.One weekend (Leo was there too), we went to Coachella and stowed ten of us in a hotel room reserved for three. I figured that if we all got along fine for that, that was a green light for anything else. And it did go smooth as silk, even though we had people sleeping in piles on the floor, me, Leo and Di all sharing one bed, the heat of the desert, the excitement of TOOL and not nearly enough towels to go around and only one shower, and it was great. So many fucking memories. Leo do you remember the first time we met? It was for the Jerry concert in the summer of 01. Your kids were sooooo young then! And so quiet when I first met them, when you guys came to pick me up at the greyhound station. Everything was greyhound back then. Again I say, ahhh the memories. Just last night I was loading lots of burned CDs onto my comp, most of them from one forum member or another, and it’s like, wow, even with the friendships that have faded, ther’ll always be all that shared music. It’s kind of mindblowing.I still want you to come out here Kali. YOU would LOVE this place. I wish you could come here in summer because, well, just knowing your interests in kayaking and cycling and the outdoors, you might never leave. I always want to warn people about that before they come to Orcas. Even if it’s momentary, most people who visit talk about moving here. Leo did on her first trip here!

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