A Different State of Mind
How coming home is helping me
People still ask me if I’m going to move back to New York. It annoyed me for a while, but I’m beginning to think of it as a more interesting question than I’d assumed. All my favorite questions are the ones that lead to even more questions, and this one makes me curious about the person who asks. It makes me want to ask them questions. I wonder what assumptions they’ve made, if any, about my reasons for moving in the first place. I wonder how they might think of a place like Indianapolis versus a place like Brooklyn. I wonder what they really want to know, or what they’re really asking me. We ask each other a lot of questions that have nothing to do with being curious about each other. It helped me to realize most people are just trying to validate their assumptions.
This coming weekend will mark one year since Kelly and I packed up our one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, along with the best dog in the world, and drove a rented SUV into the heart of Indy. We’d only just decided to make the move in late August and were on the road mere months later. It happened so fast, and so many of our friends and family members simply didn’t believe we were coming until we arrived. Our people are not naturally pessimistic, buy I’d wanted to move back for a long time, and we’d had a number of false starts. Kel and I didn’t blame them for being hesitant to get excited, and in fact, the lack of excitement tempered a lot of the pressure. While it can be wonderful, it’s not always easy meaning something to people.
We came back to our home state and settled into a temporary home (the softest landing possible) for almost a year, before finding a place of our own and moving in this past September. It’s such a cute little house, in a cool neighborhood, with good neighbors. Before the chilly October mornings, when I was still smoking cigarettes, I would hop onto our porch swing, coffee in hand, just watching the street and sky. I’d be overcome with how imperfect it all was, but beautiful nonetheless, and I would feel happy. I would feel like I finally made the home I wanted.
I still feel that way even as my veil of depression slowly lifts, and I rejoin the land of the mostly living. I’m feeling a little more clarity about the experience, and realizing this was probably the best decision for my mental health in my current season of life- both professionally and personally. It feels strange to write this, but this last tangle with myself was the easiest depression I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I felt terrible the whole time. For almost a month, if not longer, I felt myself slipping into a fragile and dark emotional place, and that shit sucked. But...it didn’t suck as much as it used to suck.
For the first time, in the midst of my depression, I could find and hold onto the will to ask for help AND make room for myself to rest. I didn’t always shower, or eat, or get anything done. Trust me I’m very VERY behind on every project and goal I have for myself at the moment. But I did communicate with the people around me about what I needed, even if it was just rescheduling meetings. For the first time in a long time, there was a sense of comfort waiting behind the darkness because I was home again, and I felt courage to acknowledge these fragile days with a more gentle approach. It’s different when you have the space, community, and resources to do so. I went into my office, and closed the door so I could sit and breathe. I took baths. I didn’t force myself to push past the darkness toward the dregs of whatever light might be left for me at the end. I let the darkness have her space. And I let the light know it might take a minute, but I’d be there later. I trusted she’d wait for me.
Did that make any sense? I hope so because I don’t feel motivated to go back and change anything about it. I knew what I meant. I know what I mean. That’s enough. I’m always going to be talking to myself, writing to myself, and making decisions I refuse to clarify. Refusing to clarify leads to some of the best questions. Just the kind I like. My strongest and most fragile days will follow me no matter where I go, but in this house, in this city, I’ve remembered how to ask myself my own right questions. I’m more curious about myself, and you, and all of us. I’m so glad I came back here, and grateful for the space I’ve been given to go into, and emerge from, the dark.
Is there somewhere you can go to be alone with yourself to ask your own right question? Where is it? How do you get there? And if you don’t have some place in real life, can you imagine it? What does it look/feel/smell like?