Off the Map

I started a new job today and also possibly a new life. I feel good about the street in front of my house even though a car was stolen from it yesterday and I feel good about walking down that street in the rain to buy strawberries and I feel good about the galoshes that I bought from a dead man even though they are four sizes too big. They are steel-toed and beautiful and I feel like a giant in them, powerful and strong, although I can’t run in them or barely even walk. I feel like a little girl playing dress up, this is how I often feel and I wonder if when I’m thirty or a hundred if I will feel the same. My grandmother says that I will, that I will always be a child in some ways because I am filled with wonder.

I hope so.

I've been in Seattle and Portland for the past week. I needed some time to myself and so I bought a plane ticket for a place three thousand miles away from anyone who could recognize my face. Half way through my time in Seattle, people there started recognizing my face so I hopped a bus to Portland. It was one of the best weeks I've had in years.

In my travels, I met an Alaskan fisherman and a Mexican relay marathon runner and an old man from Israel who talked to me about consumerist art and public law. I met Mark, with whom I shared many adventures, such as eating vegan pizza in a serial-killer-infested park near midnight after helping the owner close his shop. I met a boy from France who was in love with me. I met a beautiful, amazing queer feminist from Santa Cruz who renewed my faith in the power of potential friendships. I met a girl from Australia who shared two sunsets with me on the pier and taught me how to move on.

On the drive to Portland, I listened to the Decemberists, read Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and talked to an anarchist from D.C. who is currently writing a book about me. I examined my shadowy reflection in the smeared bus window and between the evergreens and the cherry trees, between the belching smokestacks and the thick, chocolate rivers, I remembered who I am. Or learned who I've become.

On the plane ride home, I read Off the Map. It reminded me of when I was a little girl and the whole world was magical. I can still remember the awe and wonder I felt as a child, the power that I felt. But somewhere along the way, my magical powers left me. Or perhaps I left them.

My life lately seems to be a constant cycle of tear down, rebuild. Strike restrictive images from my life; replace these with images of love and hope. Strike chemicals and preservatives and cruelty-derived foods from my diet; replace these with whole foods, foods that give life instead of take it. Strike negative influences and unhealthy interactions from my life; rebuild strong, healthy relationships based on mutual respect and affection. Strike out plans that are manufactured like an arranged marriage; replace these with an open heart and a free spirit, a sense of adventure and a breath of hope.

Tear down, rebuild.

"When I first became radicalized, I learned to say no: to authority, to oppression, to imposed moralities, to the idea that there is no other way. Saying no is a powerful first step, but too much of ‘no’ makes you sour and tired and reactionary; eventually your voice gets hoarse and after awhile when nothing seems to change you forget why it even matters. You're so busy saying no, you haven't got the time to say anything else."
-- Off the Map

I met a lot of people this week who are saying yes. And I'm ready to join the chorus.