A feeling of settling

There are still so many things about this place that don’t feel like home. My room is essentially an 10×8 warehouse full of cardboard boxes. No bed has arrived, no pictures coordinated on the wall, no twinkle lights around the window.

Its freezing in the morning, and you have to go out fifteen minutes early to start your car up. These mornings are slow and frozen and pitch black. The drive to work is long, down a road that is still unfamiliar. The weight of my hands don’t pull the steering wheel around in a second nature sort of way yet. Every turn is a little unsure.

Their accents are strange and nasaly here. Their voice always seems to settle back in their sinus cavity somewhere before making it’s way out into the air.

There are still so many things about this place that don’t feel like home. And yet, for all of them, there are a hundred things that do.

Where there is a room with no bed in it yet, theres also a roommate who is willing to share her bed with you the first night you move in so you don’t have to sleep on the couch. The kind who puts on lavender scented humidifiers for you to fall asleep, and an extra blanket on your side.

For every freezing morning there is the sunrise over the mountains down an old mountain pass. And while the sun may rise with different colors and cloud shapes and hues, it is ever consistently the start of another day here.

And those nasaly accents? They are peppered with gut busting laughter, always asking my story, or giving me the MT survival tips a southerner could use.

So as I lay here on this couch, all wrapped in flannel quilts, a thousand miles from home, I can’t help but feel familiarity. There is so much more to a home than location. It’s like the difference in a home and a house. One is a building with doors and a roof and blueprints. The other is a living breathing thing, with warmth and a story and life lines.

Sitting around my kitchen table tonight, painting watercolor while my roommates drank tea and did homework, I realized that home is something you can take with you, anywhere. Because if it really is warmth and a story and a life line, aren’t those all things you can put in your pocket anywhere you go? Aren’t we, as Christians, almost obligated to? Whether it’s a mile from “home” or a thousand? I think the answer to that is an infinite and resounding yes.

So I slip home in my pockets. And when I’m standing in a group, as people chatter away with their Midwestern twang, I’ll cram my hands into my pockets and wrap my fingers around that familiar place. And when they’re not looking, I’ll sprinkle it around like gold, until everything i see is bright and familiar.

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Things I have learned after one day in Montana

it’s been less than 24 hours yall, and already I have learned quite a bit about my buzzing new city, Bozeman.

The Beginning:

1. People here are not real humans. At least they can’t be. No one has real skin and can wear t shirts when its 3º out.

2. They are INCREDIBLY nice. They are always smiling and holding doors and giving directions and making small talk. I haven’t encountered a mean one yet (more proof that they might not be human.)

3. I actually have a pretty decent head o’ hair on me. Take that, Southern humidity

4. Hand lotion exists for a reason. Use it.

5. Don’t scrape snow off the top of your car with the doors open. #No,really?

6. Insurance is half the price in Montana than it was in Louisiana. Win.

7. There is no underlying, unspoken pressure to be tan. We are all pasty and we all deal.

8.  There is almost no crime in Bozeman. No seriously, look up how cute the crime map is.

9. On that note, most people don’t lock their doors.

10. Don’t worry mom, I’ll still be locking my doors.

11. Jewelry cleaner freezes when left in the car. As does mascara. As does a computer. As does just about anything.

12. I’m going to love it here.

That’s all for now kiddos! More about the actual adventures of the cross country trip later.

-CK

The Moving Process

With the move to Bozeman at my heels, I have been searching for whatever resources I can on how to do this whole thing. I keep finding all these sites where an outline of the moving process is broken down to give you some tips, keep you on track and provide you with a step by step process. They make everything seems so simple, laid out, and poised. Even Martha Stewart has a packet for moving, all color coded and beautiful and composed. These lists and sites gave me great confidence.

Then the real fun began when I actually rolled up my sleeves and got into it. Now that I am in the nitty gritty, I thought I’d provide an actual list of the step by step process, in all its ugly, beautiful honesty.

3 MONTHS OUT:

We could possibly be moving. Start adjusting brain to possibility of major world shift.

2 MONTHS OUT:

Still no word. Don’t get disappointed, but watch it! Don’t get excited. Either could lead to vast disappointment. Continue juggling act of daydreaming about whizzing down mountain slopes towards a trendy coffee bar, and convincing yourself you still love your old city, despite her wrinkles.

1 MONTH OUT:

MOVE AFFIRMATIVE. PACK ALL THE THINGS. FEEL ALL THE FEELS.

3 WEEKS OUT: 

I am so excited. This is the coolest. How do you hire a moving company? What’s being a broker mean? Does anyone actually know the definition of freight? Is masking tape an acceptable packing mechanism? Probably not, but it’s pink, and I really want to use it. How do you post to craigslist? Shit, do we still have time do give a 30 day notice? I need to find a roommate. If I find someone on craigslist housing, will they be a serial killer?

1 WEEK OUT:

This is exhausting. Where’s my list? Didn’t I make a list about that list? Where’s THAT list? Am I a grownup? Whose idea was this? I don’t even like to ski! How is a moving truck going to fit back here? I wonder if that girl I signed a lease with is going to murder me with a toothpick. Maybe she’s the Zodiac. They never found that guy, right? Wait, he’d be like 100 by now. STOP PROCRASTINATING. Pack all the things. Call in mom support. Since when did I accumulate so much shit?? I don’t even remember buying a bread maker. Should I keep all 8 tubes of toothpaste in the bathroom?

NIGHT BEFORE MOVE:

These boxes aint got nothin on me. I AM SPARTACUS. When did my arms get so strong? It must be all those curls I’ve been doing with Andy’s work boots. Is it time for a 9th cup of coffee? There are more boxes than we estimated, but we. will. deal. I can’t wait for a road trip. I’ll get to eat Chic-O-Sticks and bond with my man. And drink more coffee. And pee a lot. And see the seemingly ever expanding countryside that is America. And appreciate how small I am. And start my own story. And make new friends who have a completely different flavored pasts than me. And force Yankees to eat gumbo. And sprinkle love around that town like snow fall.

In the end, it’s all sort of like a boxing match. You start by staring fear down from your corner of the ring, watching it’s every move as it preps from its stool on the ropes to pummel you. Just looking at it gives you a stomach jolting rush of excitement and terror, all at once. The bell rings and the dance starts. At first, your sizing it up, learning its movements, all the while remembering to move your feet, keep light on your toes. Then the battle begins. They take one swing at you, and you might take it on the chin, but you fire back, a quick with your left and a solid with your right. And you just keep that up, follow through after follow through. By the end, you’re bear hugging each other in sheer exhaustion while the audience looks on. Your loved ones are all watching, some screaming their heads off, others watching through laced fingers. “I told her I didn’t want her fighting anymore.” 

Who knows what the verdict will be when the bell rings its final toll, and that microphone glides down from the ceiling like a spider on silk web. But that’s the whole point. It doesn’t matter. Through a broken nose and a bleeding brow, you look at fear, wheezing in its own corner, surrounded by a million coaches trying to reassure it with a spit bucket and a sweat towel. Win lose or draw, you have fought the good fight. You refused fear, that tyrant, that autocrat, in all its dictation. You have fought the good fight.

sb

My New York Trip

 

The taxi dropped me off on a sidewalk corner. I stepped out, my 80 pound carry-on slung over my body. I reached into my purse for my cell, and a few rings later, her voice came on. “YOU”RE HERE?!”

“I’M HERE!!!” I did a slight spin on the sidewalk, glancing between the two street signs that made up the corner.

“I SEE YOU! I’m coming down.”

Two seconds later, a lovely, curly headed, shoeless New Yorker was bounding down the cold street at me. We tackled, screamed, swayed, squealed, jumped, ignored the crazy looks, and eventually went inside.

In the apartment there was cousins, french press, roommates that I felt like I already knew, Edith Pilaf, and Nutella. It was a good welcoming committee.

That first day was an officially declared day of tourism. We hit it all, Rockefeller Center, The Empire State Building, Chinatown, Times Square and more, refusing to let the 7 degree weather slow us down. Dinner was had at Stardust, a famous diner where all the waiters and waitresses would give their left (insert any appendage, cause they’d have given it to you) to be on Broadway. In between  taking orders and running food they would sing numbers, walk along the tops of booths, throw straws and kiss cheeks. I imagine the diner has a pretty high turn over rate, as they were all exceptional performers.

Next we hit some bar that used to belong to Sinatra. This was one of my favorites. Owned primarily by Russians, a six foot something blonde woman informed us with a heavy accent the table we had snagged was fine with her. Along the bar were large glass jars backlit with red bulbs, the vodka in them swimming with peaches, cherries, apples and spice. They came in small carafes and were almost like a purée. A delicious purée.

The next morning was a much needed lazy one. Two nights before I flew out, Andrew had two of his best friends come down from up North to experience their first Mardi Gras. It goes without saying that I had some serious sleep to catch up on.

     (One of my favorite parts of this whole trip was the way The Women in Apt. 10 treated most of their meals, namely breakfast. All the options were brought out onto the small kitchen table: raw eggs, steal cut oats, bananas, Nutella, bread, cereal and milk, all surrounding the backbone of the meal, a cylindrical french press in the middle of it all, sheltered by a British flag tea cozy. Everyone would then chose their meals, divvying up anything that was nearly gone amongst everyone. I don’t know how to describe why this was so pleasing. It all felt very old fashioned, and very British. That probably doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what it was.)

That day was Brooklyn. Brooklyn was, by far, my favorite sector of NY. I didn’t think it would be so visually different, but you could feel it and see it as soon as the train crossed the water. Apparently, it’s where all the cool kids hang. It was teeming with young indies, strange and expensive boutiques and third wave coffee houses. Even the graffiti was somehow artsier. Here we found The Blue Bottle, one of these “third wave” places. A barista stood behind the counter, elevating a silver teapot, swirling a light stream of hot water onto a filter with about a teaspoon of grinds on it. The filter sat on top of a shiny white coffee cup. He paused, let the water swallow up the flavor of the grinds and sink into the cup. With the concentrated look of an artist, he began again. There is no syrup of any sort to be found here, it would be an outrage. Intellectuals sipped single shots of espresso out of cups so small they looked like part of an American Girl set. Along the wall, giant glass bubbles clung to long glass tubes that twisted downward, dripping cold coffee that would take three hours to finish. It looked like something from a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide chemistry set. When I got my latte, a perfect leaf had been etched in the foam. No one wanted to go back to the 5 degree weather.

That night we hit Marie’s, a bar the girls were telling me over and over again that I would love. “I wouldn’t hype it up too much for fear of ruining it…but it’s impossible to hype it up too much,” Hutton, one of Hannah’s roommies, told me as we waited, chattering at a crosswalk. She was right. The bar was a few steps below ground level, with a very low ceiling. Against the wall in the middle of the bar was a piano. At the piano was Franka. A bodacious lady with an even more bodacious attitude; Franka leads the bar in singing show tunes. And when I say the bar, I mean the whole bar. And when I say the whole bar, I mean us and mostly a lot of gay men. And when I say singing, I mean eat your heart out Barbara Streisand singing. I began to pull my phone out during a booming chorus of “I Dreamed a Dream,” but was sweetly dissuaded by Nat. (other roommie) “If she sees it, she’ll kick you out.” We stayed for hours until Franka’s set was up. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had.

Next was dancing, lots and lots of dancing. Those girls were too fun.

The next day we headed to the Upper West Side to have brunch at Lalo, the cafe used in “You’ve Got Mail,” when Tom Hanks stands up Megan Ryan. Except he doesn’t really stand her up because he’s got a double identity and he visits her not as the email Tom Hanks but as the Fox Books Tom Hanks and oh man do I love that movie a little too much…

The cafe was beautiful.

That night we hosted an Oscars party at their little apartment, where I got to meet some of their many fabulous friends.

On Monday, Hannah had to work, and so I braved the Big Apple alone. I have to say that with a little help, the subways were not half as confusing as they originally came across. I quickly learned how to keep my head down as most New Yorkers do, as to not attract the attention of at least one crazy riding in your same car. That day I explored Soho by myself. I found a brilliant little globally aware cafe called “Think Coffee,” where I ate sinfully good oatmeal and drew, uninterrupted, for hours. It was heavenly. Hannah met me for lunch, and we hit a small Taco restaurant that looked like it had been make shifted from a car garage, strung with ponchos and twinkle lights. It was so friggin good. The rest of the afternoon consisted of very responsible shopping…

Monday night was by far the best night, as Hannah and I departed for a little one on one cousin time. We walked down the street to a Russian bar in her neighborhood and sat at a small table in dark lighting, surrounded by handing tapestries and brick walls. We talked for hours over red wine, and I could have kept talking to her all night. It’s so wonderful to hear wisdom, I mean real wisdom, from a peer. There’s nothing like it. It was company that put air back in my lungs, put a smile in my eyes that is still there now.

I hated to leave. I know there was still so much to do and so much to see. I did feel like I had done so much, until people began asking me if I had seen this or that, and I realized that although the city never sleeps, there really is never enough time to see all New York has to offer. However, what I hated most was leaving the people. I wish so badly that I still lived just a few lawns down from my cousins. That we still carpooled, still slept over, still took ballet together. If I think about it too long, it makes my chest ache with unbelievable longing.                          I also hated leaving Nat and Hutton, who were both so instantly lovable, both in such different ways.

Hutton Visual:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             As we lay in bed, covers pulled up to our chins, Hutton walks about the apartment. In one hand, she balances her laptop as it plays the tuck-in song she has picked for the night. She walks to each person, and, in her best Indian accent, sings a blessing to them, lightly placing her tiny hand on their forehead. She is also known to absentmindedly rest her head on appendages of strangers while riding the subway, when engrossed in a good book.

Nat Visual:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         During our outing at Marie’s, an especially sassy man briefly attached himself to our group. He was a little fun, but little bit derogatory, one of those people who only know how to make jokes at other people’s expense. For some reason he chose lucky me! to be the center of this endlessly witty humor for a short stent. At first it was funny, we all had a laugh, but after a while he just kinda became an ass. After his millionth fashion oriented zing, Nat put the back of her hand into his chest, told him *ehem* where to go *ehem,* and somehow managed to box him out with her 90 pound body. Instant soul sista.

 

 

It was all marvelous. Marvelous.