Approximately two months ago, I observed my 7 year anniversary of living and working in Olympia, Washington. One of my favorite current students, who had been taking my classes all year, brought in a celebratory cake after I made a quip about having the 7 year itch at the beginning of the summer session.
Seven years is a long time. It feels like forever ago that I lived in Richmond, Virginia, attending grad school, making and thinking about art all day. If I concentrate enough, sometimes I can remember exactly how that felt… and then I feel ashamed and embarrassed that I haven’t experienced such a sustained, passionate fire in a long time. There have been sparks, sizzles even, but more often than not, the Pacific Northwest rains extinguish and waterlog my creativity all winter long. Then spring comes and I feel that heat again…
Unfortunately, it seems I am talented at misdirecting my energies into anything and everything that distracts from what I should most be concentrating my sacred efforts on. There’s a lot of blame I can toss: my job, my living situation, my extracurricular activities, having any kind of social life, etc. It seems there’s always something to do besides sit in my studio, struggling with myself.
So, the seven year itch. A break-up needed to happen. Something in my life needed drastic change if I was going to continue to live in my beloved and oft hated City of Olympia, a city in name only by technicality. The decision fell to the only two things in my life that I felt I could actively change: my job or my living situation. Unfortunately, in my situation, each depends on the other. I could quit some of those activities I sell my time for and continue living (cheaply) in the house I held absolutely no creativity in, or I could keep those activities I sell my time for and move to a new, more expensive house where I could create and sustain a productive identity in. I chose the latter.
I made the right decision.
After living in a collective, consensus-based household for over four years, I decided it was finally time to leave. It’s difficult to describe the feeling I have over leaving the Alexander Berkman Collective. It certainly does feel like a break-up. After living in a communal environment for so long, the longest I’ve ever lived at any one address in the past 15 years, I stopped noticing how I bent my very existence in order to accommodate the same for others. For me, there were definitely co-dependency and passive aggressive issues at play, as well as subtle hints of emotionally manipulative tendencies within house dynamics. I love the concept of collective living, the idea of unrelated adults sharing responsibilities and resources. However, for me, that concept has definitely not been the reality of the situation for the past couple years.
In the end, we’re all just weirdos that want to have the freedom to do what we want to do and live how we want to live and sometimes what we do and how we want to live doesn’t jive with the rest of the weirdos in the beautiful weirdo group house, dig? I know I’ll miss it… one day.
Right now though, I am simply excited. I am excited to have a new studio in my house that fits my presses and HAS WINDOWS that overlook the backyard AND the front porch. I am excited about having a kitchen and a place to finally put my super cute dining room table. I am excited to start cooking and baking again, something that was remarkably difficult for me to do in a communal kitchen. I am excited about having people over for dinner and just to hang out, something I felt I was increasingly unable to do at ABC. I am excited to have an office that is not located in my bedroom. I am excited that every mess in my home will be my own. I am excited about leaving interior doors wide open.
Most of all, I am excited to make stuff in this space and share it with people.
Good bye, ABC. I know you’ve changed my life in more ways than I can possibly contemplate at this moment. Thanks and smell ya later.
Old altar at ABC, circa end of August 2012:
New altar in the making at Casa Cascada Renegado, September 6, 2012: