Sea change

Flourish Vol. 33

This week was a hard one. Not for any particular, life-changing reason, but because of a thousand smaller ones, intermingling like grains of sand and as ever-shifting as the (glowing) tide. It feels like everything and nothing is changing, and it’s an exhilarating, exhausting place to be 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for liquid, languid months and months on end.

Some days it feels like there aren’t enough iced lattes/memes/cuddles/weed/texts from people I love to keep my head above water, and it all gets so muddy and murky below the surface. Some days I feel renewed and recharged, others days I’m so mentally drained from the uncertainty and isolation that it’s a feat just to shower and get out of bed.

There are bright spots; socially distanced walks with friends and Zoom game nights, cooking and tending to my plants, music and art, reconnecting with my mental and physical health, the inkling of hope that Yosemite might reopen soon.

I spent a recent Saturday night chasing the glowing waves from Venice down to Manhattan Beach, stopping at a diner along the way to grab a coffee and slice of chocolate cake I’d been desperately craving. The kitchen was closed for the night, much to my dismay, but they were kind enough to bag me up a slice of cake (and pumpkin pie) on the house. It was such a small, unexpected act of kindness that I could’ve cried.

It seemed everyone in LA had the same idea to try and catch the bioluminescent waves, chomping at the bit to break quarantine, even for a few minutes, to catch the natural phenomena – I felt a bit like I was back in Alaska, chasing the elusive Northern Lights. There was bumper-to-bumper traffic through Venice and Marina and Playa Del Rey, cars parked in no-stopping zones being towed, police cordoning off streets for residents only. I began to think maybe the best, and easiest, thing I could do was simply see the waves glowing neon from the passenger side window of my car.

But I kept driving, further and further south, until the traffic cleared and it was well past midnight and finally I reached Manhattan Beach. There, shining like a mirage, was a single parking spot just barely big enough for my car, and a clear shot down to the electric-blue waves.

I’ve come, perhaps regrettably, to dislike the beach as an adult, at least in LA; they’re hot and crowded and grimy and always take far more time than they’re actually worth.

But perched on that cool, wet sand washed clean of all our residue, just past one in the morning, watching the neon tide go in and out again and again, the horizon impenetrably inky and the sky behind me gone misty and burnt orange from the refineries that will always remind me of a year on the Arabian Gulf, this was something different. This was, against all odds, something new. Giving myself permission to have a change in perspective, an entirely different experience, to find an unshakable calm in being alone, to listen to that feeling in my gut that tells me when to quit, and when to keep driving.

Nothing about this year has gone, at even the most granular level, according to plan. And so I’ve decided to embrace, more fully than ever before, the beauty in the uncertainty, and the possibility of all the things that might be. Right now, I see my life forking out in front of me in about a dozen different strange and terrifying and overwhelming ways; all these places I could go and people I could be.

And what’s holding me back isn’t a fear of failure, because at least failure is effort, and risk, and change. What’s holding me back is self-doubt about my ability to even make a change, to continue moving toward the life I want; a fear of what others might think, certainly, but mostly a fear that whatever’s out there in that great unknown, it just isn’t “for” me.

But I don’t want to be complacent, to let fear define the parameters of my life. I want to keep pushing and challenging myself, taking risks, being my own greatest advocate and biggest fan. I don’t want a small or safe life, not by any means.

Maybe all this uncertainty makes now the worst possible time to take those risks — or maybe it’s the exact right time. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Recommendations:

“Where will it lead? How will you support yourself? How will you survive? What if no one likes what you make? What if everyone thinks you’re the worst? These questions are the emotional equivalent of wondering what the weather will be like five years from now. You will put on a raincoat when there is rain. That is all.”

-Heather Havrilesky, with the frankness I will always need to hear.

I’ve been feeling extra emotional lately, but my god this day-in-the-life vlog of living in New York (solo) during quarantine really got me. I completely relate to feeling a bit envious of people quarantining with friends/family/significant others, and able to use this very scary, lonely situation as bonding time, but I love Ashley’s positivity and ability to see the silver lining in every situation. And her transparency about mental health and beating herself up (completely irrationally) for moving to New York right before the pandemic was so refreshing to hear. Oh, and her entire leaving LA series fully made me, as I sit in my own beloved LA apartment mulling various life changes, cry.

“Life is a little bit transient and sometimes you have to accept that, otherwise you’ll stay stuck in the same place forever.” AMEN.

“And maybe the bread, as I’ve always understood it, really is over. The new world order is rearranging itself on the planet and settling in. Our touchstone is changing color. Our criteria for earning a life, a living, are mutating like a virus that wants badly to stay alive.” // The end of meat is here // Is everyone depressed? // I am so excited for Search Party to finally, finally return // I extremely relate to this tweet:

And this one:

And this, too.

I’ve absolutely recommended Sorcha Richardson’s music before, but I’ve been listening to her album nonstop lately, and Red Lion is the standout track for me (and is, absolutely not coincidentally, about leaving New York for LA.)

Quit your job, Kidvegas / I quit New York

To climb the steps up to the house / Over the reservoir

There are worse things you can do than quit what isn’t working, and much scarier things in life than changing everything you knew. At least that’s what I tell myself. But I’m getting closer to believing it every single day.

-Olivia