Baby me in 1996, on a ‘mountain’ in Wales.
I’m headed for a (another) re-boot and it makes me really nervous.
I’ve been living in the same place for 9 months now and I’m about to leave it for a series of really awesome opportunities that I’m thrilled about and at the same time, make me feel vulnerable. I have an amazing, blessed life. Maintaining a balance of healthy relationships, nurturing gratitude, and keeping up with my own ambitions and commitments, is a challenge that I try but sometime fail at.
A broken web camera became a stumbling block for me this week.
I was getting ready to video chat with my nieces this past Thursday and the camera on my laptop wasn’t working. I could see them and they could hear me, but the built-in camera wasn’t working. There were a few moments of stress, my eldest niece was now upset because she wasn’t going to be able to see the new books I got from the library to read to them. I was upset because I love getting to hang with the girls but sometimes technology can upend your expectations. I came up with a work-around, using my iTouch to video chat. But the screen is so small that i could hardly see them.
I’ve grown accustomed to being able to maintain treasured relationships via technology. I know in my heart that these moments of video and voice connection are no replacement for the real thing. But they’re what I have right now as I travel, job to job, project to project. The life of an artist / academic post-grad school can be very itinerant.
I need my family and friends. I need to see and hear and feel loved and heard by people who have known me for longer than a few months. I need to have people I can give to, to be there for. I tend to be slow at building intimate friendships and so I lean fairly heavily on the ones I already have. And so when you travel as much as I do, and am about to do, the technology becomes vital.
When the camera broke, I entered a spiral of stressful questions: What if I have to get an external camera? Where the hell am I going to put it in the bags that already seem like they’re going to be beyond full? I can’t afford to spend that money right now. What if my computer breaks while I’m traveling and I can’t read to the girls anymore? What if I miss it, what if I miss all the important things about them growing up? What if I’m already missing all the important things? What if they don’t know me when I come visit because I stay away for too long? What if? What if I’m fucking all of this up?
What am I doing? Well, I got a job in Italy. After three years of being in grad school and one as a visiting assistant professor both in small mid-western towns, I’m going to be back and forth from Italy for the next year. In fact, I’m not planning to have a permanent place to live for the next two years.
I can do this. I know I can. I’m thrilled about the things I’m going to get to do, and see, and taste! I’ll be going kayaking in Croatia, going back to the pub in Oxford I worked at when I was 18 years old, revisiting friends in Venice, presenting at an international conference, putting up a solo show in Italy… endless, endless once-in-a-lifetime events. Just promise that some of you will hang out with me on the way. And that when I get back, we’ll still be as thick as thieves.
The adventure continues….