A retrospective and introspective mood has consumed me of late. Just a couple weeks ago, I once again did not celebrate what is now the fifth anniversary of my starting hormone replacement therapy, and, if I’ve learned anything in that time, it’s simply that life is chaos. It is usually around this time of year that I turn over the proverbial calendar on my life - my birthday is May third; I started hormones on April sixth, and, most recently, my touring calendar seems to roll over in May or June. Life before hormones was mostly forgettable (but that’s not the topic of conversation today), and life after hormones was, in a lot of ways, when I started to understand myself. One can only do so much understanding of a building from the foyer. I could have spent my whole life studying every nook and cranny of my home's entryway, but, until I allowed myself to step through the doorways and to really explore the adjoining rooms, that understanding would always be incomplete. Year after year, I explored further. I discovered more. Every year was better than the last, but I knew that could only persist for so long. Somehow, for four years, my life gradually and - zoomed out far enough - incessantly continued to improve. Some year, I knew, this would no longer be true.
I’m not entirely certain this has been the year things started getting worse, but it has absolutely been the year that reminded me of just how sideways things can go. In a lot of ways, that nearly unrestricted growth was due in part to a willful ignorance of a number of problems I knew I was running from. A lot of my life had been deconstructed, but I just carried on without cleaning up the mess. I took a look at my life and decided that some personal deficits simply didn’t need to be corrected yet. This was the year I had to look back inward. This was the year I had to go back to the entryway and do the menial work of cleaning the baseboards of this building I had been exploring. I knew this was coming. I knew I couldn’t put it off indefinitely, but running as fast as you can can feel so freeing - that is, until your lungs start burning and you tumble face-first into the dirt.
And, so, in December, you saw me make a metaphor out of the leaves in my yard, and in March, you heard me speak in poetry. And, now? Now, you have found me flexing my fingers over a confessional diary entry.
Life has always been chaos. If I have learned anything in life, it is that. I have found reprieve for days and for weeks at a time, but chaos always returns. Chaos, not order, is the default status for my life. Sometimes, that chaos is beautiful; sometimes, it is a churning sea under my feet, billowing smoke at my back, windswept hair in my face, and a winding forest path ahead of me. Sometimes it is not; sometimes it is persistent sickness in your lungs, a rope bridge with rotten boards under your feet, smoke in your eyes, and unrecognizable synesthesia muddling every interpretation thereof.
Despite being frustrating and troublesome in so many respects, this past year has also shed a lot of light and laid the floorplans for so much joy to come. I have been able to just peek through the keyholes into new rooms of my life, but, already, I am eager to make my way into them. These dozen months held their fair share of strife and of loss, but, looking back on it from the end, I see nearly all of it as seed, as sunlight, and as nutrition.
Nearly all of it.
The one upheaval that really haunts me is the theft of my photography equipment. In January, on my way to vacation, my bag was held supposedly for a HAZMAT concern, and when it was finally returned to me, it was emptied of everything of value including my equipment, a year and more of work, and some heirloom jewelry. In the end, it’s mostly just a collection of things, but the loss of my primary personal passion and most reliable means of escapism is the only thing I have not been able to reimagine as a boon.
When I saw the reimbursement check from the airline for $1,531.32 - the maximum claim per a multilateral treaty known as the Montréal Convention - I knew that wouldn’t even cover the price of my camera body, much less the thousands of dollars I lost in lenses, filters, and various accessories. This chaos, this lack, has been really hard on me. You may have noticed a number of canceled plans on my end which I largely regret. The sense of loss I’ve dealt with has made it hard to deal with the rest of life’s chaos, and, so, when plans went sideways, I found myself canceling altogether instead of finding plans B, C, and D. I’m sorry for that. I know I gave a number of people hope for things that ended up never coming to fruition, and I’m working on rectifying that individually. In the meantime, I have been spending my energy trying to get healthy again, mentally and physically, for as with my spirit, so seems my body to go. The road will call to me again. Waylaid plans shall be revived.
It isn’t often I lay myself upon others feet asking favors that my pains might be mollified. I take a certain amount of pride in my ability to provide for my wants, much less my needs. This, however, has been a year that has shaken up a lot of my perceptions of myself. I have been learning to ask for help in a lot of areas foreign to me, and so it is here that I ask for the first time for financial assistance beyond a few dollars (which I realize is an incredibly fortunate perspective to be able to have). As silly as it may be, it helps me to think of it as a childish reminder to my treasured guests that my birthday is coming up. If you’ve been thinking of seeing me for ages, please, make that call or write that email. When my tour schedule* is posted, if you can spare some time for an old friend, please, let’s meet up even if it’s just a social hour or two to catch up. And, if you’re in a position to simply be generous and want to send some aid, know that many lovely photos will blossom from your springtime charity. If you’d like to help, the easiest is Square Cash†, but you’re welcome to use bitcoin‡, Wallet**, or Paypal**. Lastly, if you’re just wanting to go straight to the source, I’ve added a number of things to my Amazon wishlist.
Regardless, I’m excited to put this year of chaos behind me. With any luck, my birthday in just a couple weeks will serve as a happy turning point, and I’ll be back on the road with all my usual wanderlust - and lust of the regular-type. In the meantime, I’m going to keep my head down to rest and prepare myself for the year ahead so that, when the coming months have me exploring new rooms, they may be full of all the wonderful things that have so far filled my life.
all of my best,
* Tentatively, May will take me to DC, Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, LA, Montréal, and Ottawa while June will start in Detroit before seeing Chicago and Minneapolis.
† bills discreetly as “SQB*C AFINCH”
‡ address: 1EixXwSkae4Q6moqqRa8DHLoEC8yCmTrs8
** address: firstname.lastname@example.org (pp will give the name of an associate from a popup kitchen project from years ago; don’t worry, it’s my account)