Don't Forget the Margins

Tag: vagabond

My Life on the Couch #7

In three weeks, I will have lived in the spaces of others for an entire year. I will be off the couch so to speak when I settle into the house with a pool and roommates and a lease. In the last two weeks, I’ve slept and stored my things in Ventura, Oakland and Humboldt County, California. I’ve shared a friend’s bed, I’ve slept on a couch with a grumpy cat between my legs, I’ve slept under the Redwoods in still damp shorts after failing to dry by sundown from a dip in the nearby creek.

Bull Creek, Humboldt Redwoods State Park

I’ve landed in Portland, Oregon with a room with a door. I didn’t realize until two days ago that I had not slept or occupied space in a room with a door this entire time. Dang. I am more grounded than I have ever been. More comfortable with looking like a fool. More at ease, really, with people looking at me in the first place. Every hour is so exposed, I’ve learned to go internal.

I guess the point I’ve come to in the near end of all this is that there’s no point at all, especially in the geographical sense. I continue to not land. Maybe this has been the truth all along (I mean, I know it is)—the only real thing is whatever is right in front of me…and that can change too.

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My Life on a Couch, 6

My interim has an interim. I’m two weeks out from leaving this soon-to-be-baking desert city and I’m spending those two weeks at my Mom’s house. One never wants to go back to Mom’s house. Especially when one imagines themselves to be “real adult”. But given the reality that I am not currently being “mothered” I suppose it’s more of a long visit. I’m visiting Mom. I like who I’ve become since the last time we shared significant space together—10 years ago.

Where I’m headed—Portland, Oregon— had always, until now, seemed like a land of promise to me. Consequently, a lot of broken things were once initially rooted there. Promise is a tricky thought depending on the way you hold it. I guess there’s promise and there’s intention. Promise seems a bit one-dimensional and closed in. A perfect square of a thought about what could happen, bordered by a certain idea of how it might happen. A glass structure in a hard world.

Intention, well, I guess the difference is is the way you hold it. It’s both in and out of my hands. Intention has to be thrown to the wind to be useful. You have to let it go.

Last trip to Portland: the privilege of witnessing and holding gorgeous and vivacious intention for my best friend and his wonderful wife. This trip, I’ll hold it for myself too—I’ll also be staying with them, a final leg in this vagabond journey.

My Life on a Couch: 1st Edition

From where I sit on my borrowed couch bed right now, I can see most things I own and use on a daily basis. My life and my clothes and my books are all in paper bags. Three, to be exact, with a fourth for dirty laundry that I will clean at my Mom’s house on my way home from camping this weekend. The rest is tucked into a mix of falling apart cardboard and plastic storage bins at my Dad’s manufactured home out on acres in Sahuarita. I got it there by car. My life easily fits in my car. I just turned 27.

After a life shift—the ending of a major relationship—I decided that I’ll stop trying to land. For years of my life, if not its entirety, I’ve been looking for responsibility. For furniture. For a love in the romantic sense. For enough hangers for my dress shirts. For a “job” that pays me well enough to build something in one place. I’ve slept on people’s couches before; or their basements on a gym mat, or in a dining room with sheets for doors, in Portland, when I was 21. It was right after college and I thought “this is temporary and a 2-3 time thing.” It felt that way. But here I am again.

Holly Hall's Famous Friend Couch.

Holly Hall’s Famous Friend Couch. My first late morning.

When I told my friend who is a therapist in Sacramento that I was sleeping on another friend’s couch and that I had no plans to find my own place for a whole year, she said “What an interesting journey. You should write about it.” I guess, in its own way, or in a way I had not yet considered—it is a a journey. Even it if it feels sort of cyclical.

A hipster couch in the PNW.

A hipster couch in the PNW.

Where I am now is like the drier, more southwestern version of the same place I was at 21. Drier in many a sense. And that’s all an oversimplification. I’m not who I was then. For one, I’m not trying to be anywhere else and time feels shorter now. Like I no longer want to puzzle over things I never said out loud. I’d just rather say them. That’s vague. Home is inside me? Too cliche. The truth is that I’m still trying to understand what it means to lean on people and maybe for the first time acknowledging that it’s okay to do so.