From the Blog

September 4, 2007: Freaky


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A year ago on September 4, a plane landed on the Big Island of Hawaii. I stepped off that plane with the dream of opening a coffee shop in Kona. My cat went through the 6 month quarantine process and came with me. I put my car on a boat for $1000. I shipped all the rest of my worldly belongings. Now exactly a year later, I am in Portland, Oregon.

Let me explain.

In 2006, I was living in Los Angeles. It was okay. I had been there for over 5 years. My sister and parents had moved from other parts of the country to southern California so we could live near each other. I had a great group of friends I had accumulated, primarily through dating men and stealing their friends for myself. I’m stealthy like that.

I had known from the beginning that living in Los Angeles was not a final destination for me. I even warned my parents before they moved there that I would not be around forever. I couldn’t ever hope to own property in anywhere in southern California. I was tired of traffic and the crush of people. I felt an externally-induced mental illness coming on from my abusive, viper-of-a-boss. It was August 2006 when I hit a wall.

I was on a road trip to the Grand Canyon with my mom and dad. We rented an RV camper. We had their yappy, nervous dogs with us. It was like a Disney cartoon.

The Grand Canyon is a sentimental place for me. When I was in college, I worked in the North Rim lodge for a summer, busing tables. I was there for 4 months or so. I turned 21 over the course of that summer. I lived in a cabin in the woods. I made friends with Mormons, hippies and outlaws. I hiked the canyon from rim to rim. It was an experience.

I’ve returned a couple of times since then to the noisier, more commercial South Rim. I was melancholy when I visited with my parents in August, 2006. I felt unhealthy and disjointed and tiny looking into that giant, ancient chasm. Nature that powerful demands an amount of personal honesty. At the end of our trip, we drove back to the LA area. As we got closer to the city, I got more and more depressed. Each passing mile. I was coming to terms that I was really, really not happy in Los Angeles anymore.

This, in itself, was a breakthrough. I was unhappy. Awesome. Now the harder part was figuring out what to do about it. Once sifting through the obstructions of laziness, self-doubt and lack of direction, I realized I needed to know what I wanted. I was (still) constantly trying to figure out what would make me happy. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I was abundantly aware of what I didn’t want. I began to think about other cities and towns.

I sort of believe in making your intentions known. Not to sound new agey, but it helps speed things along. If I hear my own voice, coming out of my own mouth, saying my own intentions, I feel like I can’t back out. I have to follow through, if anything, out of sheer embarrassment if I fail to do what I say I’m going to do.

I’m normally quite good at embarrassing myself. But if I tell my friends and the people I care about that I’m going to DO something, I fully expect they will give me shit if I don’t do it. This is what I call “externally induced self-discipline.”

So toward the end of 2006, I thought about opening a consignment store to sell local artists’ work. I began talking about Portland. Or Santa Fe. It was a toss up. I had never been to either place. I knew that Portland would be green and progressive and have big trees. I knew Santa Fe had wide open spaces, a significant art scene and coyote tapestries. I was researching and talking to people and gathering opinions on these cities. At the time, I was still foggy about what I wanted, or if relocating to either of these places was going to make me happy.

That whole self-doubt thing can be a significant navigational hazard when determining major life changes. I could have procrastinated and dragged my feet forever trying to decide what to do next. Out of the blue, a friend and her reluctant husband asked me if I wanted to move to Hawaii with them and open a coffee shop. It was November 2006.

I checked my watch and said, well, sure, but let me meet someone first because I heard it’s hard to find men over there, besides peter-pan-surfer types or crusty retirees looking for some poontang (for the record, I am not opposed to either.) My friend said “No, I’m serious. We are starting the quarantine process for the pets now.”

Huh! We talked about Hawaii and coffee shops and moving. They knew I wanted to move out of Los Angeles. They knew I was interested in owning my own business. Hawaii was never on my list, but now, here was a bonafide Opportunity.

We visited Kona in February 2007. It was my first time on the Big Island. I had multiple airline fiascoes trying to get over there. (It was a flaming shit circus, deserving of an entire post all its own. I should have perhaps taken it as an omen.) I spent 3 days in Kona. I snorkeled with tropical fish. My friends looked at houses to buy. The plan was looking pretty solid.

So I spent the majority of 2007 researching how to open a coffee shop, saving money and selling extraneous possessions. I sold my leaky old BMW convertible (sad) and got a rally car with all-wheel drive (happy). You need all-wheel drive when you live on a volcano. So you can outrun the lava.

There were a few going away parties and multiple, tearful goodbyes. I had to rehearse saying goodbye to my sister because even thinking about it make me well up.

September 4, 2007, I took off for Hawaii. A year ago today. I blogged about living in Hawaii at islandartcafe.com. If you are interested, start reading at the bottom.

In a year’s time, I went from absolutely hitting a wall, to moving to Hawaii. And in two years from then, I am now in Portland. And I’m so far? I’m happy.

What? Why did I leave Hawaii? I’m saving that for my book. Or you can read about it in one of my first posts on mile73.com.

But I’ll probably write a book too.

Comments

  1. kudos for getting out of the undertow that is LA. and double kudos for not going back when hawaii didn’t work out. i salute you.

  2. Crazy that it’s been a year. And you’ve seen sights that some of us reading will never see.

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