Well hey everyone, here I am to break my two month radio silence! Thank you for continuing to check in and still leave sweet comments during my unexpected hiatus. As it’s easy to see, baking, photography and blogging have not been at the top of my priority list these last few months, mostly due to new homeownership life adjustments. But there has also been a bit more to it and I feel like I need to get a little LiveJournal-y emo honest on here before I dive into a backlog of recipes I’ve made over the last week or so… because it is finally autumn after all and I can’t resist cracking open a can of pumpkin puree very long. Those will be soon to follow.
I’ve questioned myself for awhile whether or not to say anything about this but this blog is a reflection of my life, the good and bad and in between, and it just feels like the right thing to do. Yes this blog centers mostly around wholesome delicious baking recipes and pretty styled photographs, but sometimes it feels inauthentic to just constantly project that when there’s an under riding current I need to profess. Writing out ones honest feelings is obviously therapeutic (which is why “everyone” tells you to do so when you’re trying to process emotions), regardless if anyone cares or not. And ultimately, blogging is a self-indulgent medium anyhow. So what do I have to lose?
A week after I closed and moved in to my home, I ended my 3 year (technically 5 if you count the initial contact) relationship. We lived together for the majority of that time, but having questioned the relationship for quite awhile up to that point and being the sole proprietor of home ownership anyhow, mutually agreed to live apart for awhile but still be in a relationship and take it from there. I knew for awhile that I was craving my own space, that I needed to remove myself from the “togetherness” environment to reflect on how I truly felt in my gut about the direction I was headed in. It’s crazy how our true emotions can have bandaids on them with external distractions, and how easily solitude can rip those bandaids off to expose the honesty and raw truth of what has been there all along but was hidden beneath the surface. Amidst the excitement, enthusiasm and newness of moving and unpacking and making my laundry list of to-do’s, there was that nagging gut voice of clarity telling me what I needed to do, in my heart of hearts.
The change has been nothing but positive and much needed for both of us, and I am grateful we are on a new path of personal growth. This was the longest relationship I have been in yet, and luckily it ended on (mostly) congenial terms as we are remaining friendly, mature and compassionate toward one another.
But as good as it is, I am facing aloneness, REAL aloneness for the first time ever… on top of being a new homeowner. Don’t get me wrong, I love my alone time–I crave and need it more than the average human. And I love being able to arrange furniture wherever the hell I want, paint my walls crazy (and calm) colors, blast “Easy Lover” while showering at 6am and not worry about waking somebody up, leave dishes in the sink (although I now have a DISHWASHER! AND IT IS LIFE CHANGING!!), have cream cheese everything bagel and Negroni dinners with no shame. But I lived at home up until I was able to graduate and move to Portland, signed the lease on my apartment, and lived alone for only 6 months until he moved in with me. Being an only child and more of the introverted nature, I’ve never struggled much with finding happiness in solitude. From a young age, I was able to navigate soothing my feelings, entertaining myself and staying busy with the myriad of interests I had fairly easily. I’ve always been miss independent, almost to a fault. But I was also around my biggest support system. I moved here with no family and only a small handful of friends I already knew were here (who ended up moving away shortly after) and I’m still searching for my “tribe”. I don’t have that network I built for 23 years… it only exists via phone calls and text messages and Facebook and real face time 1-2 times a year when I visit home or when someone visits me, but largely it exists in the past. I have a handful of friends here, as I value close quality friendships over having a ton of acquaintances, so I don’t mean alone in that sense. I’m just facing life more independently, as an adult, without anyone in my immediate surroundings to lean on in a moments notice. I uprooted. I’m in a new garden now and have been trying to figure out the best combination of nutrients that will best suit my growth, health and happiness to allow those roots to dig in deep. A new chapter is thrilling and exciting of course, but it can also be really fucking terrifying.
I knew what I was in for. I asked for this, I’m not complaining. I wanted my projected full-of-opportunities life in Portland and change more than staying comfortable with what I only knew. I’m just showing up to life very bravely for what feels like the first time and I’ve had to put the biggest big girl panties on, the biggest pair I’ve ever had to put on in my life so far, while simultaneously learning how to ride a new kind of bicycle without training wheels. Pretty much just like that.
The aloneness is of course amplified by being a solo female homeowner. I have gone and will continue to go through a very humbling process of realizing what I can and cannot do (although I will say I can do a pretty kick ass paint job). I don’t have a partner or an on-call handyman or a pocketful of carpentry knowledge I acquired from my father. I have to hire out for just about everything… and it doesn’t help that I get the constant question, “So you live here alone? It’s just you? What do you do for a living?” every time a man (even my mailman asked me this) enters my space to help me with whatever odd job I need help with (as if a single young female cannot afford to support herself AND commit to a mortgage). Not to mention on top of half of the experiences I’ve had so far in just the three months I’ve been here I’ve dealt with harassment and borderline inappropriate behavior. I am fully aware it is a little unusual that I am doing this on my own, but who says what the norm is these days anyhow? I’ve never liked to fit into standards or stereotypes, I’ve always enjoyed defying them, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do so. Talk about the double-edged sword of feminism–you can do anything you put your mind to! be independent! go out there and do whatever you want! you are equal! but no one ever prepares you for how to deal with and respond to the tension from going against the grain. It’s very much new territory. I am blazing a new path. But in turn, the trade-offs can be rewarding. Yes, it’s me who handles the mortgage and myriad of bills, filling the cabinets with food for me and my cats. When the drain clogs, I call the plumber. When I need to have my outlets updated, I call the electrician. When the smoke detector goes out, I haul out the ladder and replace it. If I don’t like the color of my kitchen, I’ll paint it myself… whatever color I like. If there’s a problem, I am the one to handle it or find the person best to handle it. Why is it so unconventional to expect a well-enough equipped female to be able to deal with it all on her own? I am a human being.
I checked out Brené Brown’s new book Rising Strong at the library over the weekend, and did a quick skim over the pages and this quote in particular stood out to me:
“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” – Brené Brown, Rising Strong
It’s not easy to choose courage over comfort, but I am trying to make peace with the fact that this is where I have to be right now. To go through the uncomfortableness with as much grace, calm and collectiveness as I can possible have, while simultaneously not being afraid to face the difficult feelings when they come up. This is my opportunity for change and growth, to learn how to meet challenges in new ways even though I’ll fuck up sometimes. But that’s the beauty of humanity: no one is perfect. And although it can be a bumpy ride, I know deep down this is the work I need to do. No sugarcoating, no taking the easy way out, just the having true grit and getting down with it whether I like it or not.
I hope you’ll continue to join me on this ride, pumpkin cookies and all. (thank you for listening)