I move to Hong Kong in two weeks, so it is entirely reasonable that people are starting to ask me if I’m ready. The short answer is “no.” The long answer is “NoooooOOOOOooooOOOOOOOOooooo.”
There are about a million things to think about and a thousand things to do and a hundred people to say goodbye to between today and when I fly off. The official time and date of departure is 1:30am on July 30, so I have to tell myself it’s actually 10:30pm on July 29th. From SFO. And here’s hoping that a. I don’t leave my carry-on to get picked up by TSA (bc I have) and b. I continue in good health as I am still without insurance and c. no frosting explodes in my luggage (bc I will eat it anyway). Just the average fears of a 33 year old.
I likes to procrastinate now, which makes everything hard to get done. Despite the dumpster fire that is American politics, it’s nice to live here, to be at a kind of home, to eat Mexican food and use my cell phone with wild abandon and drive a car. Parts of me (stomach and liver, for sure) have been lulled into and seduced back into the luxury that is life in the States.
A lot of feels still come up as I process out of the last place I was and start thinking about how to to extricate myself from the bosom of family and head off across the Pacific to my new home. And in this process, I’ve had to discover new methods of self-care, distraction, energy-channeling. And guess what I found?
I like to hit things.
What happened was I saw a friend’s instagram story (Saito!) and she was working for this company that made DIY projects. I thought “hmmsies…I might want.” My mom got me a kit for my bday and I ran with it. I sprinted with it. I took all my birthday Amazon gift cards that were supposed to be for practical things and spent them as I fell further down the rabbit’s hole.
Turns out I needed a creative outlet and it helped my depression to smash things with a hammer and let words pour out. (shout out to Brie for being my first customer!!)
It was important that my self-diagnosed therapy included activities where I couldn’t eat/drink/scroll social media simultaneously. I needed activities that forced concentration and effort. I needed something that tapped in to that inner competitiveness that has fueled most of my life.
Many of the first projects and most of the words I said those first few days are not fit for public consumption. But they definitely saved my mental life in the first few weeks I was here without employment and wondering what the heck God wanted me to do. I felt like Edison and a lightbulb – I wasn’t failing repeatedly, I was just finding 1000 ways that things didn’t work. And I was learning from it.
I slowly got better, and I even opened an Etsy shop and an instagram account in case anyone was interested. You can find them @sunglassesalwaysfit – also the name of this blog, if you didn’t know. Because hashtag branding.
There was something really cool about thinking of what I wanted my message to be, what someone might like enough to wear every day, then picking a playlist to listen to while I gathered the supplies, lined up the tools, planned it out, sweated in the unbearable heat of this summer, and hammered the words down on metal.
Sometimes I worked outside. Sometimes I spread my “studio” all over my parents’ dining room that we only use on Thanksgiving and to gather the mail, setting up candles and bohemian throws and taking my bra off and letting my hair down and thinking “i am such an artiste!”
Sometimes I really messed something up and started hitting the sheet of metal over and over – brass hammer smashing on metal, smashing on steel blocks – bits would flicker off into the air and the dogs would cower under the nearest chair and I’d slowly realize that my feelings were rising so loudly into my psyche that I could no longer hear the music that was still playing.
It’s been a few weird months.
But now I’m at this chill point where I can be creative and make things for fundraisers or friends or families. It’s been important to me to have this outlet in the last few months – something to focus on where I couldn’t be even thinking about any of the self-destructive behaviors I am more than capable of when I go through these dark times.
And after I make the thing, I get to wrap it up pretty, send a little card, and then do something that always makes me feel super grown up – go to the post office. So it’s a win win win win win.
And then there has been the run/walk. One of my slowly rising fears about living in Hong Kong is the sudden onset claustrophobia I anticipate when I live in a real city for the first time. To try and offset that, I’ve been spending as much time as possible outside on the trail – slow walks punctuated by half-assed sprints whenever someone creepy pulls up and propositions me from the window of his truck (real story) and
shuffling running. I’ve been soaking up the drifting smells of backyard barbecues punctuated by some family’s playlist and cries of sibling complaint flying over the fences and into my inner soul registry of comforting smells and noise.
I’m concentrating on the feel of my dogs needing to sidle up to me to sleep on the lounge chair even when it’s 104 outside. I’m trying to enjoy my mom reminding me to do some chore she just told me about three minutes ago. Kind of fun to feel 15 again, I guess.
I’ve slowly walked away from my gym commitment and the gentle crush I was nurturing there. We still act awkwardly around each other, but I’ve owned up to the fact that he doesn’t have the balls to ask me out on a date. Mostly I just ride out the tread on the elliptical closest to the fan and catch up on old episodes of “House of Cards” (currently at the end of season three and WHAT THE WHAT THE WAHT).
In the midst of all this personal internal nonsense, I’ve been making up for lost time from the last few years with my family. I’ve attended college and high school graduations in Berkeley and Reno, played to last minute invitations for home town parades, happy hours and puzzle parties. I’ve (mostly) caught up on the gossip, the latest trends, the freshly painted parking structures downtown. Realized I hate driving (parking lots are like warmups for hell for some people, I swear)
I moseyed through a rainy a week in Virginia with my dad and his family and wandered the nature and life there while learning everything there is to know about WWE, watching “Rogue One” for the first time, teaching the littles how to make guacamole and tzatziki, perfecting the white man’s overbite dance moves and almost setting the neighbor’s house on fire.
Traci and I completed our annual camping trip during the major heat wave. Nothing tests a friendship like setting up a tent when its 106 degrees and you start realizing you forgot forks, eggs, soap. Oh and the power goes out at the store so there is no more ice to sell.
We found magic powder that makes your fire turn colors and I nearly stuck my hand into the flames because I was so mesmerized. We didn’t shower – instead sticking our heads and feet under the spigot every few hours and reveling in our dirtiness. Deer grazed just twenty feet away, we spied on a duck family, played cards for hours, sat around the fire and shared hopes and dreams. We smelled like a farm and I ate her grilled cheese sandwich and pretended I didn’t know what she was talking about. I think I’m still in trouble.
I spent a long weekend in Boise with my Rio roommates. It had been a year to the day since we’d been together, and we had so much to catch up on and then a thousand memories to make between the dive bars, the community pool, the family barbecue, and the local wineries. Safe to say that Boise will never be the same.
I’ve trekked Yosemite with my sisters, sprinted through Santa Barbara, drank my way through San Francisco, and am pretending to be packing for Tahoe at the moment, so the time at home has been full of adventure and I’ve never actually fully unpacked anything but still . . . the nicest bits have been the hours spent in backyards with family, music, chips and some sort of dip. And my definition of ‘family’ and ‘bedtime’ and ‘healthy snack’ grows more liberal by the day. As does everything else about me, to be honest.
I fly just 16 days from now.
That makes it sound so temporary and easy.
RACHEL – YOU ARE MOVING TO ASIA. GET IT TOGETHER. PACK A SUITCASE. LEARN SOME CANTONESE. ANYTHING.
FINE, inner voice of reason. I’ll do something. I’m busy fitting in dentist/hair/bank/DMV appointments and tying up loose ends and researching the availability of essentials like tampons and flaming hot Cheetos and rainbow chip frosting in Hong Kong so I know how to pack. I get 100 lbs before I get charged 200$ for a checked bag…luckily my aunt is paying for me to take my guitar, because I honestly can’t imagine living without one and if ever a song was going to bubble up out of me, feels like it would be when I’m living in a new apartment/job/culture/language/country/time zone.
It seems normal for me to move somewhere unknown yet again and yet strange because it is. I’m not excited yet, really. But I’m realizing I’m not scared, either. And that’s a good thing.
I know I’ll be okay because I have great people saying “yay!!!!” or just keeping their “nooooo!!” silent (mom and gma and Traci could try a little harder at that) and so I will start getting ready for this adventure nearly any moment now but first
first I sit in the backyard, look at the trees, continue snacking on the 40 dollars worth of red white and blue M&Ms I bought on accident when I got a little too Pinterest excited about the Fourth of July, sip wine, snuggle my pups, create another playlist and then
then, at some elusive point in the future then, then we might start thinking about getting ready in any shape or form. I say “we” because oh boy, I will need help.
Until that last call moment, despite its worries, life is good good good.
And if you haven’t heard it yet today and you need to – you’re good, too.
Some summer pics: