Distance

I’ve not written on this blog in almost a year and I have had good reason. The last 365 days have been fraught, exhaustive, filled to the brim. There have been only a few minutes where I remember actually feeling rested. Most of the time it felt like I was in constant motion. It’s funny coming from a place like New York that really is constant motion, and arriving in a place like Seattle, which is so slow in comparison, you would think I would feel the opposite, but no, the pace only seemed to speed up. I think that’s because of three things; First, the rate of growth in Seattle is ridiculous. I won’t talk too much about that but suffice to say, slow the fuck down. Second, I remember it being slower. The Seattle I left was a much different place; a place that was for all practical purposes a city with a small town attitude. Now it’s a city with a city attitude that can’t possibly fit everything it wants to in the geographical boundaries it inhabits but keeps trying anyway. Third, the kind of distance I live with.
I drive. I’m a driver now. I mean I still commute like I did in New York but I do it on a bus, not a train and sometimes they change my bus schedule to something incomprehensible and I need to drive. I guess I have options. I can drive or bus, but I found this year, it was more driving. Driving made everything faster, not quicker, just faster. I am always moving forward if I’m behind the wheel. I’m active in that way where you have to be active to get to the next place with no real break in between. I have no time to stand there and read, gaze off to think, or listen to podcasts with my full attention. I loved that part of living in New York. The not driving part. I could sit on the subway and get lost in a podcast or a book and I never realized how much that time meant to me until it was gone. I have another day job now, and when that is done, I’ve had work that takes me to other parts of the city or outside it and on those days I must drive. The traffic here has gotten markedly worse in the 7 year since I left which makes the whole process feel longer. I push through until I make it home, to the house we live in, and I can see everyone is safe and sound.
Most of this year has been about child care. Seriously, there is nothing that jumps to mind quicker about this period of time than how many hours we spent organizing who would take care of our son. We had a whole calendar on the wall that was dedicated only to that. Nicole has thus far done two shows almost back to back, both with 4 month runs of each; a blessing for the work, a horror for the schedule. They day starts at 6am when Max gets all of us out of bed, then I run 2 miles, have tea, write, eat breakfast, shower, dress, and go .Every day I would head to work to be there at 10am so the morning routine is like a science. Nicole would stay with Max until she was called to rehearsal. Anytime between 11am and 3pm to 11pm, at which point Max would either go with his aunt, one of three babysitters, or over to his friend Bay’s house with his parents Billy and Kate. Big shout out to them for taking him so much and making sure he was always ok. (If Billy and Kate are reading this right now they’re thinking except for that time he fell on his face, at the zoo, onto the edge of a stump and it looked like he broke his nose. Well sure guys, that was terrible, but the fact is, it would have happened had you been there or we had been there. He loves you and we love you and we wouldn’t have him fall with anyone else. We’re lucky to have met you guys. Just saying.) At the end of my work day, 5pm, I either head to Seattle Repertory Theater for my writers group or to one of the extra jobs I picked up. The extra stuff is usually only a month or two of the year and only takes me away from home if it’s directing, so barring that, I could just come home. Getting home during the colder months however means I would take the bus (I work at UW and parking is a nightmare, I avoid it during the school year as much as possible) and then get in the car and pick up Max. Max and I would come home, cook dinner, do bath, and then head for the bed routine. After that it’s usually about 9pm, I pour a glass of wine and try to wait up for Nicole so we can see each other for ten minutes before we both fall asleep. For that period of time we pretty much had Monday nights to see each other. It got a little rough toward the end. We were both tired of being single parents. However…we did it. She starts another show in a couple of weeks but this one is at the Children’s Theater. It is closer to us than the last two and most of the shows are during the day!


 Then last week we went on vacation. Me, Nicole and Max in the desert with a pool for a week. It was glorious. Max even taught himself to dive under water. He would throw these weighted rings down, hold his breath, and plunge his face into the blue. When he came back up he would rub his hand over his eyes twenty times before he opened them and then hold up the ring in triumph while Nicole and I sat on pool chairs cheering him on. It was there that I realized that we had stopped at this same spot, Santa Fe New Mexico on our drive from New York and that now was the time to reflect on the last year and everything that has happened. That we moved everything we owned across the country in our car with a toddler, got work, started preschool(Max, not us), found a place to live, and managed some kind of routine. It’s also when I realized you can’t escape what you are.
For the last couple of years I have been toying with giving up on the nonprofit world I have loved so much. Thought maybe I would look to something more lucrative, something that could provide better for my family. I know lots of people that make three times the money I do who started in theater and have managed to find ways to jump into something else gracefully and naturally. I however have always feared that idea. One of the things I have treasured has been the time my lifestyle has afforded me for creation. I’ve done it for years now and managed to find jobs that encouraged that journey and everything that comes with it. The only thing that could make me give that up is if my family was in some sort of peril. That being said, I realize now, I don’t have to work in another job that eats my life just so I can stay in the arts full time. There are ways around that. There are ways to make it work. The past year has been me trying a new one out. (Part of that time I was unemployed, that was not the part that worked.) Now I work in the Theater Department of a major University assisting the Executive Director. I know it sounds like I’m in exactly the kind of job I was looking to get away from but I’m not. The job is 30 hours a week. That leaves me 10 for writing or any of the extra work I’ve managed to tack on. In addition, working in a university is like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s huge. I work with thousands of people here. My last job in New York was with fifteen. I like the people I work with but I am still adjusting to the administrative parts of working someplace this big. In June I had a workshop of a new play from of a series that I have been working on for three years, then another in July. I spent the bulk of this year with a wonderful group of people, in a room, at a theater, helping each other along as playwrights. It made me refreshed and remember why I torture myself on a daily basis. I surround myself with this world because of the people and the community. I am poor most of the time, yes, but, I know exactly what I am doing. Also, buying new things is over rated anyway. So for now, I’m staying in, but adjusting for the family and the art.
Distance. I feel distance so acutely. I always have. I’m like a pig rolling in mud, but I roll in Melancholy. I love the way it feels as much as I hate it. Nowhere is that more focused for me than when I think about my friends in New York. I miss you. Every day I miss you. One of the things living in Seattle forces upon you is distance. I mean that more literally than philosophically. Once I was working with a famous actor and I mentioned to him that I had lived in Seattle. He smiled and with an English accent said, “Ah Seattle, great Town. Not really on the way to anything.” Seattle is geographically isolated. We are out here. I live farther away from things that I am used to. Close just doesn’t mean the same thing anymore. Close used to be a train ride that took 45 minutes to take you 4 miles. I would take a book sit on the train and dream of what I saw in the light at the top of the subway stairs of Brooklyn or Manhattan. Now, to see some people it is a 45 minute car ride to go 20 miles and I’m not really a driver by nature, my father raised me to commute. (I even got lost on a bus once for a whole day when I was 10. Meaning I got on the wrong one, not that I couldn’t find my way off. It put me off the idea of using mass transit for a good long time, but I came back around eventually.) I love my friends in Seattle but it’s very hard to feel surrounded by them even when they are nearby, because nearby means something different here. When you are forced to live on top of each other you are forced to live together. Though it’s only been a year for me, sometimes I don’t feel like we’re living together. We’re just living. Don’t get me wrong, I know that much of this is due to a schedule that won’t quit, being an artist, and being a parent; these choices that make us who we are and who our son will be. I don’t know what will happen over the next year or if it will be as jam packed as the last one but I do know I’ve never felt as challenged personally or creatively as I have for the last year in a long time. My hope in this year is to use my proximity to LA to generate more interest in my film and television work, go down and meet some new people, maybe even see some old ones. (I like old people and I’m sure LA has its share.) I’ve written some things I like more than I have in years now that I have some distance from New York. I’ve also found that we didn’t move back to Seattle. We moved to Seattle. I guess at some point you don’t go back anymore, you just go.

I’ve also  been saving up stories.  Next time it’s all about the legalization of weed and my first trip to a pot store.

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