Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Now I live in North Carolina

Let me start with my room at Yonton's house. Where it's always cool, and it's always quiet. A ceiling fan whirs around and gives me something to look at as I'm falling asleep. There are two windows, one smaller than the other, and through them streams the sound of crickets, or cicadas, some sort of soothing insect that sounds like New England. I fall asleep so quickly and sleep so deeply it's as if I pull blankets of water over myself each night.

The last place I lived in Seattle, by contrast, was a cacophony by sunset. The apartment was across the alleyway from a tap dance studio, a country karaoke bar, and a massive construction project that never failed to violate noise ordinances. The downstairs neighbors fought constantly, while the neighbors to my left and my right were always shouting back and forth about the mundane pieces of their day- their shopping lists, what the doctor said at the appointment.

It was a strange place to live, it may have been some type of halfway situation, but I'll never know for sure. I slept each night in a tight crescent, curled around a tiny fan that gave off a hum of white noise and at least the suggestion of air movement, enough to make sleep just possible in that sweltering place.

It was an ideal place from which to leave.

When I first got to Asheville after eight days on the road, we set off fireworks and ran into town for dinner. The next night there was a full moon. We went to a bar that was set up in a burned out mechanic shop. It was roofless, so the moonlight could come in. We danced on the fringe of a crowded dance floor until long past midnight. I was crazy about it- the new town, the warm night, the old friends. And I still am crazy about it.

At one point during that night, my friends needed more cheap beer- it's 1 dollar on tuesdays, so I went up and tried to order four Rainiers. The bartender couldn't understand me, he kept shouting 'what?!' and leaning closer, and I kept repeating myself, louder and louder until suddenly it dawned on me that they may not drink shitty Seattle beers over here. In North Carolina.

That was one moment when I realized where I was, or more to the point, where I wasn't. Most of the time I walk around lightly confused, cheerfully disoriented, wondering where I live and where I lived and what I could claim as my own.
I do love the nights sleeping in my room at Yonton's because it is so cool and quiet. But sometimes the evenings stretch on and on, and I've already wrapped up my day, there isn't much left to do. When I first arrived, there was the fireworks and the dancing and the dinner, but the days keep waning and waxing on, and I'm often alone through them.  I don't know many people yet, and although I have friendships here, I'm being careful not to wear them too thin too quickly.

And so on those nights I put myself to bed at 8:30, why not, and watch the ceiling fan spin. I don't feel sorry for myself, or at least I try not to.  I remind myself that this is what happens when you do something like move to a new place. It's going to look like this for a while- quiet dinner, crickets, ceiling fan. "What did you think it was going to be like?" I might ask myself out loud, and my voice startles me inside all that quiet.
Then Yonton comes home and bangs around and knocks on my door.  He switches on a light and asks, "Where are you? What are you doing?" He is genuinely confused. He says, "Come out and talk to me and hang out!" And I know what he's thinking- Come be a real person. Do not be in bed before nine!

So I shuffle into the kitchen in my pajamas, and sit across from him at the table. He cooks plenty of clear soups and brown rice which he shares with me.  He tells me about his work day, or his training for the freestyle kayaking world championships, which are coming up next week. Then I tell him about my day, how I went hiking or bouldering or worked all day.

Sometimes I leave out that I got terrifically lost on the blue ridge parkway and spent most of the day driving in circles, or how the climbing season hasn't really started so I was the only one at the spot today. Other times, I just tell him everything.

Once, a few years ago, I lived alone in Vermont during an exceptionally cold autumn.  On certain evenings, Yonton would read books to me over the phone. I'd sit on the rocking chair next to the wood stove, wrapping the chord around and around my wrist as I listened. Helprin, Keret, Murakami.

You keep a nice space in your memory for someone like that.

Now, whenever something good happens during the day, my first thought is to run home and report it. "I talked to someone at the climbing gym today!" I'll say with great pride. "I went to my first aerial class!" "Guess what- I have breakfast plans!" He always matches my enthusiasm about these things. "Good for you!" he'll say. "Great job!"

So I do walk around a little confused these days, stunned might be a more accurate word, not only because I recently left my whole world behind me, but because I can't believe my good fortune, to be living here now, this town just beginning to crack open, this new place that I love so much.

16 comments:

Erin said...

One beautiful, slightly bewildering day at a time. Xo

Lisa said...

I'm so happy for you! This is awesome, keep going, soon you will settle in! :-) Take care! Lisa

Sara at A Mixed Media Life said...

I am living vicariously through you until I can finally move to Asheville. I forget about the transition period sometimes.

I am still totally jealous though!

Nicole said...

Enjoy this sweet awkward time with yourself... One day you will look back on it and know it was the best thing for your soul. And welcome to the southeast!! I used to live in Knoxville for many many years and our fav place to go was Asheville! Take care.

colleen said...

Dearest Lina,
Love from your long lost Seattle roommate, and cat. You're going to be alright, remember when I moved to Seattle? Well right after I moved the only person my own age I knew (you) left for three months to play on a boat (; Trust me I got a lot of sleep those first few months, and a lot of walking miles in Seattle. I also had a lot of feelings, more feelings than I had in a while, that even though I was ridiculously lonely, and looked forward to laundry at my Aunt and Uncles on the chance they might be home and want to talk with me, I made the right choice. I haven't looked back. Glad this new place isn't as shitty as our bandaid walled crack den (:

Lynn said...


I appreciate how you are able to express yourself. And I will say that sometimes you just know that someone you don't know IRL will be just fine. I know this about you.

Heather Goodell said...

My heart aches for you and is so excited for you at the same time. I always hated that transition time, yet it is such a good time to remember who you are and to fall more in love with yourself. But also lonely. Which is hard.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to NC! Sorry about the shitty political situation that we are currently experiencing here. Many of us are trying to fix it. :)

Sarah said...

Thinking back to the awkward times when I moved to a new city not knowing anyone... been there and done that!

Be easy with yourself during this time of re-adjustment... and it sounds like you are doing just that! Your roommate sounds awesome! :)

Angela said...

I still find myself thinking of you and pining for news and pictures on the Pacific Northwest every time I read this blog. It is so weird! Only been there a couple times and yet it seems like you introduced me to it and made it real.

Even so, I am so happy for you to be on a new adventure! I have moved MANY times in my life, all of the country and there definitely was an excitement that accompanied the quiet loneliness. Enjoy both! And I am looking forward to reading all about it! Cheers to you! Angela

Kerry said...

I want to visit.

Jessica said...

Yonton seems like a wonderful friend to have! So excited for you, Lina. What an adventure!
Also, I'll have to try out of those shitty Rainier beers when I get myself to Seattle next month.

Anonymous said...

I live in Asheville, welcome to town!
Kim

Anonymous said...

Melina, I've always appreciated you honesty. It's one of the things that really sets you apart from other blogs that I have read. This one really hit me, as I moved about a year ago for a job and I'm still having trouble finding my 'people.' Reading this made me feel a lot less alone. Thank you for that. This is my first comment, just so I could say thank you and your writing is important, in case you ever forget that.

Anonymous said...

Your roomate's got a hot bod. Just sayin ;)

Kirsten Gardner said...

You will master this place. And if you don't, it makes for great stories!! Good luck finding your groove. Also, we have the same climbing shoes. xo