New Country

I woke up this morning in a strange country. Not the one I thought I was in. Not one I know how to name. Continue reading

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Learning the Language

Halfway between the kitchen and hallway of Spanish AirBnB #2/#4 (we had to make a hasty getaway from smelly AirBnB #3), Zoriah, my Spanish mother, has set up an ironing board so I can smooth this week’s work outfits after their long stay in my suitcase. She fixes dinner while I iron and we talk about the ironing board—where she got it, how long she’s had it, etc. I spend a full 10 minutes ironing my first blouse because the conversation takes up so much of my brainpower. Continue reading

On the Run

On day 35 of living out of a suitcase, I laid in the dark between the wall of Madrid AirBnB #1 and my napping partner. He could tell that day he was coming down with the fever he has now, so we pulled the metal shade over the window and tried to rest on the mattress where our feet hung off the end. I couldn’t sleep. I spent 3 hours trying not to jostle him while obsessively checking my phone to see if any new apartment listings had been posted.

He woke up feeling a little better and said he’d like to go out, find some food in the area and then take it easy; what did I want to do? I said something, something, maybe I’d go out on my own because I didn’t want to squat in a dark apartment all day and not feel like I was enjoying this city. Then we had a nice little argument (in hushed voices so our AirBnB flatmates wouldn’t hear) about what exactly I meant by that.

I’ll pause here to say that part of me feels like, in this first post since I departed on my Adventure…

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Just Before the Leap

What you can plan is too small for you to live.” –David Whyte

I dreamed last night of being perched on top of a big hill in some sort of dubious wheeled contraption reminiscent of a soapbox derby car. I spent the entire dream positioning and repositioning myself on the cart to be better situated for the sound of the gun, the start of the race, and the push down the hill.

In this last week before departing for countries unknown, we’re paring down to the barest essentials and final details. My car and major appliances are all sold, my cats are re-homed, my stuff is stored, and I’m living out of a suitcase in my parents’ guest room. Time is doing that thing where it somehow slows down and speeds up simultaneously. Continue reading

Undoing

It’s starting to sink in that I’m not going home. I can’t—my home is now completely undone.

“But Sarah, your home should be in yourself,” you say. “You can always go home to yourself.”

Yes, but for right now at least, that home is rather undone, too. And that’s okay. More than okay, it’s important, really; my inner home is…under renovation. Continue reading

The Spirit of a Place

We speak of genius when we speak of leadership, hoping for some of that elusive genius in ourselves, but the word genius in its Latin originality means simply, the spirit of a place…the genius of an individual lies in the inhabitation of their peculiar and particular spirit in conversation with the world. Genius is something that is itself and no other thing.”

–David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea

I’m writing today, as I often do, from one of my favorite places in the world—a little café tucked off the main thoroughfare of this college town and nestled on a hilltop in the woods. And I’m wondering, how does one say goodbye to a place?

I first came to this little café in the woods when I was still in high school a few towns over. Some friends of mine were playing bluegrass on the little wooden deck, which turns into a stage in the summer evenings. I twirled under the twinkle lights on the lower patio overlooking wooded trails below and felt so much hope for the world that a place like this existed. When I went to college here in Chapel Hill, I spent many afternoons, which would have otherwise been very lonely, crouched over the small metal tables that were just big enough for my poetry homework and a coffee cup and saucer. But it was after I left this town for New York and came back that the café really took up a place of Home in my heart. Maybe in those earlier years it was this future that called me to it.

I joke that I moved back to Chapel Hill because of this café, but it’s not really a joke.

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Dragon Eggs and a Feminine Revolution

(Beware: this post contains Game of Thrones spoilers.)

This feels a bit risky, but I’m just going to say it: watching Hillary Clinton get the nomination this week felt a little bit like watching Cersei Lannister finally settle herself into the iron throne. There is definitely some satisfaction to it, though it’s not without it’s “oooh shit” element.

Now hear me out—this is going somewhere, and it’s not just another condemnation of a political figure.

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Healing and Different Medicines

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

-Lilla Watson and Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s

I cruised through adolescence without skin problems, but in my late 20s, a persistent mottled pink and red color palette crept into my face with varying levels of chaotic topography on my cheeks. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition, the Internet tells me. It’s treatable, but dermatologists say there’s no cure for it. Continue reading

Taking On the Trickster

Right now our house is full of dreams and preparations for crossing a new border.

“Maybe I’ll grow my hair out a little longer while we live in Spain,” says my partner. “Maybe I’ll start going by ‘Gustavo.'”

I express my support for these ideas and turn my attention from reading about the areas where pickpockets are the worst to researching undergarments with secret pouches for stashing valuables.

After my last post on living fully into liminal spaces, one of my dear, brainy friends left me a most intriguing message:

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Liminal Living

About a month ago, I got rid of my couch. Well, “couch.” It was a beautiful antique Chippendale sofa my grandmother had proudly displayed in her parlors since the 60s. It was not comfortable at all, but I piled it up with extra cushions and draped it in scarves and pretended it could be. But then I realized my skin broke out every time I laid down on it. Then I realized that my cat was having persistent skin problems, too. Then I realized I am allergic to feathers and this thing was stuffed with feathers and probably several decades worth of mites. So I paid some dude $35 to cart it off (please don’t tell Granny). If I had the time and patience to reupholster it, I might have been able to sell it, but it was time for it to go.

The living room echoes now, and it’s still not comfortable at all, but it’s not the right time to buy a new couch.

“Do you know the word liminal? Like ‘liminal spaces?’” my dear friend William asked me 6 1/2  years ago. He and I were both single at the time and staying with family while between lives. We took a lot of walks, and that night we were wandering through the neighborhood where my parents lived. It was close to midnight in deep winter, so the small town streets were completely still. We’d just passed the house where he’d grown up. The light from the blue street lamps made it and its neighbors look more like a movie set than places with real living people inside.

I told him I didn’t think I’d heard the word liminal before.

“I came across it in this book I’m reading.” He was studying folklore, getting ready to apply to grad school. “It’s kind of like an in-between state.”

“Like limbo?”

“No, not quite like limbo.” Limbo had connotations of absence, he said, where liminal spaces were something more than that. Continue reading