David Bowie passed away a few weeks ago. I felt bereft. As I explained to friends at the time, he gave me a lexicon during my childhood and teenage years for feeling lost, alone, afraid, and abandoned. His song, “Life on Mars” was an anthem for my isolation, and a validation for my fears about the world around me.
I watched a special about his Serious Moonlight tour, and this oddly handsome and somewhat quixotic artist said he was flabbergasted by the response to the Let’s Dance album and the ensuing tour. Whereas he’d begun the tour in small, dive-bars crowding in a few misanthropes and punk visionaries, as the tour progressed on he was filling massive stadiums to sold-out crowds. It was beyond his wildest expectations.
This past year has been underscored for me by grief beyond my comprehension. I have had to shed myself and most of my beliefs about … well … almost everything. It has been complete destruction. I was told I would be ok, and I was told incredible opportunities were around the corner once I had sifted and sorted through the detritus. For many months, however, I believed none of that. At several punctuating points through the last year I believed it was easiest for everyone for me to no longer press myself upon this earth. That I was too much and *it*, the destruction, was too much. That the world would be a better place without me in it.
As evidenced by the words upon the page, I am still here. Not without a tremendous amount of thought and consideration for that trajectory though.
The last few days I have found myself using the word “compass” quite a bit. I realized that within the divorce (yes, most of you know about the divorce but in case you stumble upon this inadvertently and don’t know me, that is what happened last year) I lost my own internal compass but I lost my external one as well. My former husband was my compass and my barometer. Recently I was thinking through a really complicated and emotional situation and I wondered aloud what he would do…how he would approach something. I broke down in hot, wrenching tears wishing I could call him and talk it through. Wishing I had his voice in my ear and his soft, sensible advice to help me navigate my discomfort and grief and failures.
(As an aside, I hate the word ex-husband, and so I often say former, but I also hate referring to him that way as well. He has a name, and though I don’t want to use it here, I’m going to try and figure out a way to call him something other than “former husband.” That just seems insignificant to how important he was/is to me)
I do have a point to this meandering post; I promise, I will tie this all together.
My point about the compass is this. Losing your compass means you lose your ability to know that things will be ok – maybe even better than ok – maybe even extraordinary. You lose your faith that north is north. It feels like a magnet is roped to the compass; it’s skewed and you’re disoriented and lost. With that comes fear and uncertainty. You feel un-grounded and un-tethered. When I lost him, I lost my external compass, and before I lost him I was already losing my internal one. It seemed hard to fathom that anything in the world could feel good again. Heap some shame and darkness on top of all of that and it felt like I was sitting in a putrid swamp of quicksand with no lodestar to guide me out.
But I tried to listen when people would tell me I would be ok. I tried to understand when other people said that my shame didn’t make me unworthy of being loved. Especially when I was told that I wasn’t ever loved as my marriage ended.
I tried to embrace my failures – my big, ugly, nasty failures, and learn from them, and squeeze every last drop of comprehension from them. I tried to find my voice and my integrity, buried beneath the grit and the hurt. I tried to own what is mine and shed what was not. My therapist told me she has rarely seen someone work so hard on their stuff – to deconstruct it and understand it and take away the good and relinquish the bad. It has been a street fight, for my life and for my own internal compass to emerge again.
I had a feeling back in late November, early December, that something really really extraordinary was around the corner. Normally my gut with these things is pretty correct but I didn’t trust my de-magnetized compass and December was an epically shitty month punctuated by my would-be 10 year anniversary the day before New Year’s Eve.
Slowly, as the early weeks of 2016 unfolded, it became more and more clear that I was probably going to get a job for which I had applied back in December. A quick trip at the end of January to interview in person and I was told a few days later I had the job. The more I learn about this job and my role in it, the more extraordinary it seems. It is unfolding in ways I never would have envisioned and it is impossible not to be a little in awe of such an incredible opportunity.
This role encompasses my love and passion for travel and international development, and also gives me the time and space I need for my own personal travel as well as the opportunity to finish my Ph.D. dissertation. It introduces me to some of the most socially-conscious and aware people on earth as well as visionaries, entrepreneurs, travelers, and capitalists. It connects me to hundreds of amazing human beings. It is beyond a privileged opportunity. It is beyond my wildest expectations.
Which is why I titled this post, The Serious Moonlight. If you’re the weird kid, who makes the weird music, in the weird clothes, and your sexuality is in question, and your artistry is beyond avant-garde, and your voice is edgy and odd, and only the alienated and the misfits resonate with your music, why would you ever believe life could take you on such an extraordinary journey? And if it’s a god-awful small affair and you’re the girl with the mousy hair and your father has told you to go and your husband is nowhere to be seen and you’re walking through your sunken dream…why would you believe it could be anything but that?
But it happened. Not that I’m Bowie (please for the love all that is holy do not think I am comparing myself to him), but that you can feel weird or sad, isolated or shitty, shame or estrangement, and then you just press on. You put your feet slowly in front of you. You play your funny music or you apply to the job you doubt you’ll get. You just do it. In spite of the fucked up compass and the disbelief that maybe you’ll never be more than you are…you just hope that maybe you are and that the hours you’ve spent applying for other jobs and interviewing and practicing will pay off. And the hours in that urine-soaked, smoky back room playing to 15 people will connect you with the person you really need to know. You cling to a tiny sliver of grace and push yourself forward. And then what emerges *is* beyond the wildest expectations, much like the Serious Moonlight tour – beyond the dreams you ever had for yourself.
Several friends asked me if I would blog about this up-coming journey. I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m a writer at heart but I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about this job (it’s very public) or that I wanted to connect it with my divorce publicly (because in a lot of ways they are inexorably linked). I wouldn’t have had this without that. And writing about the job, to me, means writing about the journey that led me there. I wanted to be able to write and reflect about my grief, my joy, and my new life, if I was going to write at all. I can’t write banal updates, I have to write about all of it – my new life and career, and the processing I’m still doing about my divorce.
So how to do that? Well I’m making this public so my friends can read it and maybe some strangers should they wish. I will be writing vaguely about my job. Maybe some experiences or general descriptions. No names, maybe places, but no company references or anything specific to my role. I will reflect on the journey itself and maybe some small updates that can be meaningful to those who know me and what I am doing. Maybe a few photos here and there but I’ll probably save those for my very private instagram account. I’m a very private person in general so it’s not easy to put such things into a public space for me.
But I do want to write again and so many people have requested it that it made me feel really humbled enough to “blog” again. I don’t want to blog, though, in a conventional sense. This is a journal for a reason. I don’t want a fancy website, I don’t want to be involved in the blog scene and community, I just don’t want to deal with the social media aspect of it. This is a journal – it is a diary of my journey. Check in as you wish, or don’t. It is for my tribe. Share if you like, or don’t. Comment or don’t.
I don’t know when I will update but I will try and do it with as much regularity as possible, but I make no promises.
In any case, here’s to 2016 and my own Serious Moonlight tour. I’ll be in the Caribbean for most of this year and I’ll post some photos of the moon. When you see them, you’ll know what I mean – that I’m thinking about Bowie, and this journey, and how wild it is. Under the moonlight, the serious moonlight…