I drove across the US from California to Maine last June because I wanted to save my life. I had the palpable sense that I’d done what I came to do and now it was time to go. Like, now.
Obeying what felt like a primal urge, I gave away almost all of my possessions and left behind exactly 30 years’ worth of living. I’d been married 16 years, helped raise my son to age 18, and spent the balance of the decades out there engaged in what I consider useful, passionate, and soul-directed work. I’m told I helped a lot of young people through my erstwhile nonprofit, Human Being Training, teaching my unique, yoga-based philosophical system to hundreds of college students over 5 years.
But I’d come to a point–a very fine and uncomfortable, pointy point–where something stern in me was demanding wholesale change. Not just another move, not just another job, not just another lover, not just another project. Absolute uprooting is what I needed. Plus, that big fat whole number: 30. Thirty years. And I”d promised my kid I would stay around until he turned 18, which he had. And my parents now in their 80s in Maine, and my sister in Portland.
Fortunately (actually, that’s highly debatable), my root system has always been pretty shallow. I gather no moss. I don’t get tied down. I’ve been called a gypsy, a free spirit, brave, and some of the negative words associated with those characteristics, too. Irresponsible, cavalier, fly-by-night, unreliable. My consistently doing what I want drives certain people nuts–mainly those who don’t realize they could also do what they want.
Just for my own edification, here’s what I did in California over 30 years:
- 1988: Taught English at the Midland School in Los Olivos across the road from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch
- Worked for 8 years as a journalist and editor at ABC-Clio, a reference publisher in Santa Barbara
- 1997: Started a freelance editing and writing business that continues today as Call That Gal Media.
- Married in 1996.
- Started autocrossing my VW GTI with the CalPoly Sports Car Club.
- Had my son Cisco in 2000.
- Bought a house with my husband in 2002.
- Started training martial arts in 2008.
- Worked as the supplements guru at a health food store.
- Divorced my husband in 2009.
- Started an online health food store that failed due to lack of capital and bad business partners. Rookie move.
- Worked in the trades as apprentice to a master builder for two years.
- Lived illegally in a warehouse after running out of money for rent. I’ve never since taken a hot shower that I failed to appreciate fully.
- 2010: Moved to a commune. Er, “intentional living community.”
- 2011: Got kicked out of the community for stirring things up too much.
- 2012: Lived in a borrowed camper at Lake Cachuma, trading my space for being assistant to the executive director of the Neal Taylor Nature Center there.
- Moved to Morro Bay when Cisco’s dad remarried and moved to San Luis Obispo.
- Started Human Being Training and teaching at CalPoly.
- 2013: Started working at Maximum Motorsports as a freelance editor/writer. Still with them today.
- 2015: Moved to Atascadero to live with a lover who owned a house. He also let me drive his 2015 Mitsubishi EVO VIII, which made all of it (almost) worthwhile.
- 2016: Moved “out” into the house’s lower floor when we broke up. I got to keep driving the EVO.
- Drove like hell around the Central Coast in a jet black 1964 Stingray coupe named Betty. Gave up the man who owned her, but kept the key just in case.
- June 2018: Started driving to Maine.
Wow, doesn’t look like much when you make a list of it. But that’s pretty much all the stuff I did. Interesting to note that the timeline got faster and faster as I went along, though.
OK, here’s one more list just to bring things up to date. This is what I’ve done since June 1, 2018. Today’s May 23, 2019, for reference.
- Left my home of 30 years. OK, my state of 30 years.
- Gave away all my stuff. (Actually, I’d done that several times since the divorce.)
- Drove across the US by myself., landing at my parents’.
- Got work as the supplements guru at a health food store. Overcame my deep-seated dread of cashiering.
- Moved into a pretty, expensive room in a (literally) falling-down Portland house on Munjoy Hill near the ocean.
- Found help for severe hip osteoarthritis.
- Drank a ton, loathed a housemate.
- Moved back in with parents out in the quiet countryside, customizing their unused upstairs apartment and planning to stay put for a while.
- Survived my first East Coast winter in 3 decades. Alcohol and YouTube for the win!
- Started training chi gong with a master who, unbelievably, happens to be local. So lucky.
- Adopted zero carb/carnivore diet. Lost 15 lbs, reduced pain, boosted brain.
- Overcoming a vicious case of stage fright PTSD dating back to my teens, started singing with some local musicians. Confidence vastly improved!
- Quit drinking (again), but this time joined AA.
- Quit the health food store, saving myself from a stupid and stressful commute and the prospect of another sticky Portland summer populated entirely by rude cruise ship passengers and others “from away.”
- Accepted another part-time gig in the GoodTech department of the local Goodwill Industries warehouse just down the road.
- Changed my legal name to Fuller Watts Crowley.
- Prepared to sell my intrepid and beloved 2007 Mini Cooper, who got me all the way here. With 176,00+ miles, he’s ready for retirement to a nice garage for the winter and short summer outings.
That’s pretty much all I wanted to say by way of introduction here. This blog is the successor to the 24-day travelogue I wrote on my cross-country journey a year ago, which I’m folding into a book currently titled Exploding Your Life: The Impatient Person’s Guide to Evolving.
Final note: Last night, while reading The Diary of Soren Kierkegaard, which is so rare I had to order it specially at the library, I suddenly understood that virtually all of my stress comes from not understanding that I’m already the thing I’ve been striving so hard to be. Geez, I don’t know why that one took me so long. I guess now I can just fucking relax for once.