Last Thursday, I had my last day at my coworking space, American Underground. This day was a significant one for me. It was the day that marked my transition from a life of bouncing around from one place to the next, a nomad armed with a laptop, tape measure, samples, labels, lunch, yoga clothes (and so on and so forth) to the live-work space I have been dreaming about.
For my entire adult life I have shared space. In my 20s I made 5 big moves. Seattle – Washington to Togo in West Africa, Togo to North Carolina, North Carolina to Geneva – Switzerland, Geneva to California, California to Durham – North Carolina. I made all my decisions about where to move based on work/career/scholastic pursuits. Each time I shared a space, always temporary, always surrounded by other people’s belongings. I was never quite invested in being there, because another move was always on the horizon.
When I arrived in Durham, something changed. My work was shifting and I was falling in love with a place. Durham is a strong community of independent minded people, full of entrepreneurs and creatives, situated among beautiful old tobacco warehouses, repurposed to house art, forward-thinking business, and delicious creations from local food. When I realized my current career track – global health, was coming to an end, I vowed to remain in Durham and let the place decide the “what” and not vise versa. And then the place helped inspire an idea I had for a high-quality line of clothing you could bike in.
Right around the time I fell in love with Durham, I began to have what felt like a primordial need to nest. I wanted to find a nice little spot and make it beautiful, comfortable, restful. Make it fertile for spinning knowledge, ideas and creativity into something. Make it welcoming. Make it my own. In my mind I decided that I could have this nest when I had “made it”. I set an absurdly high bar – I would have to be able to buy this nest, to renovate this nest. (Oh how interesting it is when we create unnecessary obstacles to happiness.) When I realized it would be a while before I would be buying a home I resigned myself to the fact that I would be sharing space, moving around, impatiently setting aside my drive to nest for the foreseeable future. Really, underneath this all was a feeling I had that I hadn’t earned the privilege of having my own space, that I didn’t deserve it. That only when I had accomplished, earned, succeeded at x, y, z – then I would deserve this place of my dreams.
And then I got to a point in my business where I realized my environment was holding me back. I began to accumulate pieces I had designed, inspiring images, words but instead of having them out in front of me, they were in boxes, in notebooks, in files on my computer. If you have a creative pursuit you may understand that having these ideas/images/bits of work out in front of you is essential to creating at the intersection of what inspires you in the world – where the real work of creating something novel happens.
I came to a breaking point where I felt like I was not comfortable or “at home” anywhere. It was crazy-making. I realized, I had to find my nest, no matter what sacrifices might come with it. So I began the search: somewhere that is bikeable, just enough space for living and working, lots of light, character. A space to serve as a blank canvas to create.
There were lots of fits and starts. I found “the perfect place” only to have it rented before I could get the application in. But ultimately, the right thing smacked right into me. I was in a “why me” sort of mood after another place fell through. My friend and I were packing up after yoga and I ask her if she would spread the word among her fellow graduate students that I’m looking for someone to sublet my place. She says, “Well I’m looking for someone to rent my place, but I’m happy to help look for you too.” And I say, “Wait a minute. What’s you’re place?” As it turns out, it is an adorable in-law apartment attached to a 1900’s Victorian era home. Sunlight all day long, 10-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, beautiful old fixtures. AND, after years of sharing space to save money, I found a place that way MORE affordable, not less.
So here I am. I’ve gotten used to challenges, difficulties, discomfort in my day to day life. I don’t know what to do when I have what I want – a beautiful, light-filled, interesting, artistic, nest that is entirely my own – that I can shape with my imagination. I don’t know what to do with the joy. I have not been this happy in so many years. Over the years I have learned what I want, how to fight for it, what I don’t want, how to disconnect from that. Now I have to learn what to do now that I have what I want.
So now what? The possibilities are insane. Just the idea of getting decent prints of inspirational images and hanging them in front of me absolutely blows my mind. The idea of having a beautiful workspace. The idea of having my items out in front of me and not just in boxes. Having to confront that I’ve created something beautiful. Having to confront that I am entirely responsible for what else is created or not created. I am afraid of all that joy. I’ve seen what I am capable of when I am limited. It scares the hell out of me to think what I am capable of when I am unlimited. When my major obstacles are removed and the universe yells “GO”. Don’t look for problems, don’t try to create problems. You are ready to live your dream. Let that be. Let yourself be and live wildly.
– Reid (writing to you from the feminest!)