Friday, September 07, 2007

Piecing It Together

September arrived, the autumnal closure to a torpedo summer of traveling, tasting, experiencing and changing. I've exchanged trains for my old car, hostel beds for my queen that still holds my self-shaped divot acquired through years of sleeping in. No more guessing at the local cuisine. No more wondering where we'll sleep tomorrow night, what we'll see this week. Home is home, and Seattle is back.

My house is actually becoming a home, a century-old construct that welcomes us with its bright red door (red doors mean luck, a friend tells me with a grin that encompasses every hope that a 20-something grad clings to in a world that seems scarily new), ancient hardwood and a dining room (a dining room! a room in which to dine!) seeping personality from every molded corner. What currently looks like a refugee camp, a cardboard box-covered living room and a kitchen filled with donations from every pot and pan owner in what appears to be the tri-state area, is slowly making its way into a comfortable place for five girls to call home and not be mortally embarrassed to bring friends and potential husbands over to visit.

Side note on the husband topic, which is a total joke because the girls in 2217 all tie for "Least Likely to Find A Guy to Jump on That Grenade": my grandpa, who thinks he knows just about everything about everything, informed me that it was a bad idea to sign a lease with four other girls for the following reason: one of us is going to get married and flee the state and leave the rest of us in the lurch. If only he knew. If only.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about what home means. I am back to the place I do consider one of my homes, but cities are never the same! I am back to discovering cafes and being served by sleeve-tattooed baristas of indeterminate gender, back to the grubby, 'we're all in this together' feel of the underground music scene, back to the catch in your throat bliss of an unexpected Space Needle sighting. Call me cheesy. I like living like a tourist in my own city. It prevents apathy.

What a strange thing it is, to create a life from what feels like scratch! I am transported back to senior year of high school, when the first half of the year seemed to be spent condensing my entire being onto a sheet of paper and convincing institutions of higher education that I was worth their time. Job applications are a similarly bizarre sense of attempting to prove my worth through a list of accomplishments, a list which appears strangely short when I consider what a full life I've led for 23 years (maybe less than that. I didn't accomplish much when I was a baby, and age 15 was a similarly unproductive era, unless you count "passing notes between classes" a marketable skill). There doesn't seem to be a way to include the important things in my life on a piece of paper, things like: how a weekend in Bosnia radically changed my worldview, how my breakup history has prepared me for corporate America, how Belfast stole my heart for good, how I tend to fall over without my best friends nearby, and how great it was to spend elementary school doing Y Indian Princesses with my dad. Things that make me me don't necessarily look good on a resume.

So I am back to square one, embellishing my brief list of accomplishments so potential employers will have no choice but to beg me to grace them with my presence. It's like compiling a list of things that someone else has done. The job search itself can be absurdly tedious. Staring online at job postings can only last for so long; as it is one of the most morale-draining exercises ever discovered by mankind. Soon every one of your interests becomes something you despise. I thought I wanted to speak Spanish, work with refugees, tutor kids and write about all of it, until the unfailingly prosaic job descriptions started to make me doubt my own middle name. Soon I got to the point where I really just wanted someone to pay me to stay in bed.

But putting a little life together is the next adventure, and for as badly as I want to throw a dart at a map and hop back onto a plane bound for a random locale, coming back to Seattle has been wonderful and I'm a happy girl! I am still trying to sort through everything I saw, smelled and tasted over the summer and will write more on that later...

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