Last night I was sitting on my friend Tareq's couch here in San Francisco, eating macaroons and drinking tea, because Tareq is the kind of guy that always has these things. It was the first time since I've been back in the states that I actually felt some sense of home, felt some kind of settled, and I realized in this brief moment sitting there tasting and smelling one of the few places on this earth that seems fixed for me that I might be sleep walking, just a little bit. That morning, arriving at the Caltrain Station on Townsend, I had opened up the Uber app and for a brief moment, looked for Termini Station. It felt like waking up in a bed you didn't remember falling asleep in.
I told Tareq as much and he said that the Sufi's say that sometimes when your body moves through time and space it takes your soul a while to catch up to you. I thought that my soul was far ahead and it was my body that was having the problem, but I just said "That isn't it." And then I thought, I think one day I'll look back on this all and wonder how I made it through.
It's not that anything bad is happening. In fact, NOTHING bad is happening. It's just that nothing is happening the way that I had planned. But actually, now that I'm typing it out and thinking about it, when has anything ever happened as planned, anyway?
Here is the long and the short of it.
For the past 3+ months, I've been working on securing financing to grow the best thing that I do, which is my school, which is what I'll call the Minimum Viable Product of my own formula for recovery. The thing is, the idea and the motivation behind that school is what has always been my passion and the primary reason I started Hip Sobriety. I gave up life as I knew it and I leaped into the void and bet the farm because I saw how much we were not seeing when it came to addiction and recovery and sobriety and alcohol - how wrong we all had it - and I knew I had to fix it. Since before I stopped drinking, I have known this is what I'm here on this earth to do. This is what I will die trying to fix.
And so this opportunity to grow my baby faster…I mean, you can only imagine what it felt like to have a fairy-god-venture-capitalist, whom you love and adore anyway, show up at your door with your golden ticket and tell you that you don't have to boot-strap your way through anymore.
I left for Italy as the financing option was becoming a clearer reality, with the idea that I would come home and/or work from Italy as-needed to make it happen. A few weeks into my trip I agreed to be in New York by September 5th, and on July 31st, I gave up my apartment in Los Angeles and bought a plane ticket home for August 26th - a few weeks before my planned return on September 11th. And on August 23rd, with exactly enough money in the bank to get me through to October 5th, no apartment to return home to (figuratively speaking), and (cough) having told EVERYONE "I have an investor and I'm moving to New York!", my fairy-god-v-c called me to tell me it was not going to happen. Not, at least, in the way we had planned.
I sat through the entire call in a state I can only describe as "extremely calm". It was kind of like hearing what you expect to hear because you knew it was too good to be true anyway, but also kind of like hearing the thing you totally fucking feared the worst. I had taken the call while I was on a walk, it was 10pm and I was on the back-side of Piazza Navona, and I looked at the restaurant in front of me that I'd planned to eat at, and realized maybe I couldn't afford to now. I put on some music, and I texted Laura about the new news, and I made funnies, and I realized I couldn't feel my face, and so I decided I'd walk to the Campidoglio because maybe that would help me feel my face.
By the time I got to the Campidoglio I realized I also couldn't really feel my legs, either, and so I walked past it to the Forum, and sat up on the wall overlooking it. I continued to text Laura, and realized I could barely feel my fingers, and when Laura made funnies back and started talking about not wearing a bra or her vagina or writing or whatever the fuck pointless things we usually talk about, I replied something about wanting to walk in front of a bus. And when Laura replied with even more ambivalence to what had just happened, I lashed out, saying perhaps she hadn't understood what I was telling her, feeling for the first time since getting the new news something that felt appropriate to feel - fucked and mad.
I tucked my phone in my purse as Laura started to text me back. I was almost mad but I was too dissociated to be mad. I sat there with my legs dangling over the Roman Forum, and I watched the seagulls and the bats, and I thought about how many generations of humans had come between me and the humans that had built these ruins, and I thought about how quickly we are gone from this place, and somehow this brought me comfort. Life would be over soon, I wouldn't be leaving a temple behind, my name was writ in water just like Keats, and it all doesn't really matter so much, and it all matters more than anything. I knew my news was nothing and I knew my news was everything.
I realized that Laura was probably worried that I had, in fact, walked in front of a bus, and as I reached back for my phone, I realized that there were two men on either side of me, angling around me to take a photo. I texted Laura that I was fine and would be fine because I was always fine, but I might momentarily be catatonic. The men spoke to each other in German, shouting over me as if I wasn't even there at all, which was fine because I wasn't.
I asked myself what I would tell myself in this moment if I weren't me, and I told myself that I would tell myself that if a train doesn't stop at my station it was not my train, that I don't know what's best for me even though I might know what's easiest for me, that I am supported in the work I am doing and that God doesn't fuck around. I had just read the Alchemist - like literally that day - and so I thought about beginners luck and walking through deserts and Personal Legends and where the treasure lay hidden, and I reminded myself that there are no mistakes, and I remembered that nothing ever happens to us but for us. And then I dropped my face in my hands as the men walked away and pressed until it hurt and spoke into my hands so that it echoed in my nose. "You have just got to be fucking kidding me with this one."
And then I walked home. Secretly wishing that a bus would hit me so I could say at least I tried, but God had other plans.
Tareq asks what is it, if it isn't my body being ahead of my soul. And I say, it's just funny how we make it through things without falling apart.
That's what this is like. It's like, I know this should scare me, and it does. It terrifies me. But somehow, in the middle of that terror, I got on that plane to come home early anyway, happy and ready for the complete unknown. I walked into my apartment on Friday, August 26th, and knew I couldn't move to New York, not yet.
I woke up on Saturday, August 27th, and unpacked everything, and called my right-hand woman Megan and asked her if she would be open to helping me run another school in October. A few hours later, on my way to lunch with my sister and niece and nephew, I stopped by the leasing office in my building and found that my apartment hadn't been rented, even though it had been on the market for a month, and as I sat holding my nephew in the California sun and smelling his baby head, I realized what a blessing it is that I get to watch him grow up for a little while longer.
On August 28th, I had five hours of calls and began strategizing my next moves, because if this has taught me one thing, it's that I want capital and I want to grow faster.
Within a week, I had booked a trip to San Francisco to start building the next school, because that is the next thing I know I can do, and booked a trip to New York to to start figuring out the next steps for raising capital with my fairy-god-venture-capitalist, because that is the next next thing I know I can do. I launched a website for my podcast, wrote an email course with my friend Tammi Salas (coming in October), added a store to my own site, stuck a temporary donation button up on my blog, and logged about 20 hours in bed watching Masterchef and drinking copious amounts of La Croix, because currently that's how I mourn.
Everything in me knows this is my job. There is no question in that. But what I don't know, and what is the best-worst part of this whole thing, is what those means are to fulfill it. And so I'm going to do the only thing I know to do, which is to take the next step and to move forward on the path that looks differently than I thought but exactly like it should. Even though I still can't really feel my legs.