Cutting seed potatoes outside on the ground with Tony, Alyssa and Carinne.
Heather pulls up at 10:45, announcing that Syd’s plane is leaving early, and we need to jump in the van and run and tell her goodbye.
We’re at lunch now, and Alyssa made amazing dahl and dumplings to split. Dre, Tony and I are talking about the biological reason for sadness.
“Quote of the day, ‘we’re all sadistic’. No, wait. Quote of the day is, ‘here’s some plywood. I figured your kids might want to play on it’.”
Super sad at the airport, we all cried a bit. And we handed Syd a big stack of letters from all of us to read on the plane.
On Thanksgiving this year, back in Oregon, Syd wrote letters to each of us, and propped them up on our fireplace for us to find in the morning. I still have the letter she wrote me in my wallet.
She is an absolutely beautiful person. Out of all of us, she did the absolute best of showing a beautiful and nonjudgmental love from the get go- way back in October. She didn’t pair off with anyone in particular, she loved everyone equality. She wasn’t expecting anything from us, she loved us just as we were. With all of our quirks and madness and insecurities. And she continued to love us everyday of this year together. Through our vast range of emotions, opinions and personalities- she was still Syd. Who accepted everything about each one of us with an open mind, and a belief in greatness for each and every one of us.
This morning I woke up and went out to make coffee. She was sitting on the couch, and I walked up to her and we both looked at each other and started crying. In a really good, healthy way. The way that shows that you’ve really loved someone up, and you appreciate them for all that they are.
I know that she’s going to do great things. And I’m so happy to have been randomly selected to live my life with her this year.
We’re all sitting around talking about the fact that whenever we visit each other in the future, we’re always going to bring a sleeping bag and toothbrush with us.
“Oh, you thought I was just coming for dinner? I thought I was coming forever.”
We don’t know how to be friends, we just know how to be family. We don’t know how to hang out, we just know how to live life together in all of its complicated glory.
“Does ya’ll’s coffee pot work now?” Ricky asks with his thick North Carolina accent.
“Yeah, you want to make some?”
So I didn’t win in the end.
But the fortune on my teabag tonight reads, “When ego is lost, limit is lost.”
And I think there is going to continue to be a lot of ego in the leadership out here over the next few weeks.
But I could try to let go of my ego a bit. That’s the part I have control over, so that’s what I’m going to focus on.
I’m in a hierarchical militaristic structure right now. And that’s okay. It’s only three more weeks. Then I am out of this. And I’m never signing up for a job that takes away my freedom ever again.
Although, in all fairness, though this job has taken away a lot of freedom, it has also given me a lot of freedoms that I did not possess, or did not realize I possessed last June.
It got me out of Kansas.
It allowed me to face every single one of my fears.
And it reminded me that people, and the world, is messy. You can’t escape that. And life becomes so much easier when you accept this.
I’m reminded of this story that Mack, the bug scientist, told me last Friday while we were peering at larva through microscopes at his kitchen table. We literally scooted the bowls of the delicious Polish food prepared by Ewelina out of the way, and made room for the larva dishes. Mack pulled up his laptop while we did this, and showed us pictures of his life in Barrow.
Pictures of lots of scientists from the 70s, he pointed out this one man– typical long frizzy hair, brown mustard yellow shirt, and a great mustache. He told me how this guy was an up and coming scientist back in the day. He was also super health conscious- went running everyday, was a vegetarian, only ate whole foods, meditated regularly, and wouldn’t even touch the formaldehyde in the labs.
And then he retired early, and died in a snowmobile accident in Colorado.
You know. Life.
And as he was telling me this story, and I was finishing up my Kopitka, which is a dish of Polish potato dumplings fried with onions and pepper. And I realized he was talking about me.
Today I got a letter from my friend Pat in Denver, Colorado. He also included a typed short story of “something exciting” that happened to him recently.
He works alone at some sort of auto store, and apparently he was the target of some random gang initiation. And for some reason, the guy being initiated didn’t follow through on whatever it was he was assigned to do to my friend Pat and his store.
So it just goes to show that you can never know. You can just smile, treat people like human beings, and hope that makes them realize you are a human as well.
And then you’ve just got to fucking let go. Pop a xanax if you have to, but mostly just find a quiet spot and drink some tea.
Tonight I found out that the guy I’ve really clicked with over the past few months is heading home to New York on Monday. I hope he comes back, but whatever happens, I think the universe is on our side. We both had the same book placed in our hand today. And books are everything. So that means that everything is going to work out the best way it will.
I’m currently drinking green chai tea, and eating a midnight snack of oatmeal with honey and peanut butter. Pretty content, after a dramatic evening. I’m sitting in my window seat in the living room. Our couch surfer flew back to Fairbanks, so I can stay up with the midnight sun in the living room again.
I’ve missed my midnight sun. The sun’s always there. Even when it feels like nothing else is stable or familiar or fair.
My neighbor Dylan walked past me while I was in tears talking to my Mom about the email I just received from campus. He thinks all of us girls are fucking crazy, because every time he comes over we’re either rolling around on the ground together, or reading the I-Ching to one another. He offered me a Strongbow tonight, and offered going on a walk with him around the lagoon.
I said maybe another night.
In the email I received tonight, campus basically took back everything that they told us girls during the phone call the other day.
It’s all about that hierarchy, and giving the titled leader the authority to call out insubordination. They told me tonight that if I didn’t show up to work at the garden open house tomorrow, I would be considered AWOL and I would be fired.
After all of this. Ruthless. I was really upset when I read this, and felt really trapped and pressured. Which are the two worst feelings for me.
So I went back out to the lagoon. And had a really good, long cry. I didn’t know what I wanted to choose. And I had to make a choice tonight.
A stray dog just ran through the graveyard outside.
So I think all of this is really tapping into my desire for control, and the need to address my fears head on. Although I’m pretty positive that I shouldn’t get in trouble for questioning a manipulative and “never wrong” anthropologist leading a construction science project, I also need to realize that life is not perfect. And you take what you get, or you change it.
And god, my team is so beautiful and supports me in all of my opinions and decisions.
Which makes me want to cry, because no one has ever really understood me like they do. I’ve never let anyone understand me like they do.
But it’s definitely a pride thing a little more than a health thing at this point. I’m just upset about how all of this went down, and then how I’m getting bullied into doing something I don’t want to do.
And there definitely is personal tension between me and H. I think she feels a bit threatened that I knew more about the materials we were using than she did. And I am upset at her for not advocating for us.
And we get to share the same bed every night.
Isn’t that the number one rule? You should never sleep with your boss.
I don’t know. Life is funny. And I’ve a lot more thoughts on all of this. But I think simplicity is the answer for the night, and maybe the next few weeks. I’m going to read my zen book on Sunday. And connect with my magic and the patchwork quilt of the world’s art.
After getting back from the library, I walked into my room, and Heather was on our bed. And chewed me out. And I just looked at her, and said, Heather. I think that this has went past a professional disagreement, and is becoming a personal thing. I don’t want to fight. I just want to go my own way, and be proud of my own decisions for the next three weeks.
Regardless, I’m on a shit list. And who knows what will happen. But I’ll show up tomorrow, even though my pride is going to be hurting a bit. But the tea fortune: when ego is lost, limit is lost.
I’m going to push the limits. I’m going to fly the fucking world round and round and learn how to write every moment.
I threw on my muddy running shoes, and hit the lagoon.
It was beautiful. I ran for about two hours, thinking and letting go. On the way back, I ran past a softball field, and just as I was passing, someone batted the softball out of the fence, right in the direction I was walking.
“I got it,” I said.
Picked up the big yellow softball, and tossed it over the fence.
Right place, right time. Who am I to question.
I’m supposed to be here. Whether I get kicked out or not, I have no idea. But whatever happens, I’m going to do my best. Let go of a little ego, and toss that ball back over to the softball game.
A few minutes later my favorite Kooks song comes on in my headphones, “Always where I need to be.”
I think about how, even if it did all end now and I didn’t get to finish the program, I’ve gotten more than I could have ever hoped for out of this year.
I’ve made five beautiful lady friends who will be with me through my life, supporting me in all that I choose to do.
I’ve traveled the West Coast, Alaska, and had crazy experiences that have provided me the opportunity to really try my hand out as a writer.
I’ve learned how to write about the shit as well as the beauty. And I feel like I’m on a writing path now, progressing day by day.
And I also realize that I’ll have to push myself for the rest of my life, because that’s where my best writing comes from. And where my best personal growth comes from.
I’m no longer scared of flying in planes. Which is blowing my mind right now. Honestly, I would have paid $5,000 easy to get over that fear. So if I don’t get my money at the end for some reason, I’d say it’s all been worth it. This opens the doors to my life I’ve been waiting patiently for the keys to.
I’ve also learned to take less shit, and call things out when I see them. I’ve realized that I can be a leader, and that I have a good understanding of people and they respect my opinions when I voice them. I’ve become more empowered, fearless, confident, opinionated and serious about myself and my goals.
I’ve become more comfortable with travel and a cultivated a new found belief and plan for pursuing my gypsy writing dream life after all of this.
Also hitting home almost daily how important social justice, properly represented law and rationality is to me.
Ten years I’m hitting up that law school, hold me to this. Let me have my fun and my freedom because I really think I’m onto something with this freedom of movement, exploration, contemplation and writing. But after I learn a little more about life and art, I want to take what I’ve learned into the system. And fuck with it a little bit.
And finally, I have met a really nice boy at the end of it all. And he makes me feel calm and inspired and free. And that’s the kind of person that I think is definitely worth going through this ever raging storm of fucking madness all year to meet.
Back on the boardwalk around the lagoon, I took the road back up to the street. And jog up through some neighborhoods, newly empowered.
Running past large chunks of freshly harvested whalebone, the bits of flesh still on it rotting in the sun.
I forgot to mention. I was running around in shorts and a tank top today. It was a record high, people were saying they’ve not seen it so hot here in their lifetimes.
And I felt like it was just any other summer for awhile- free, adventurous, and enjoying that sun smell on your skin. I even jogged by the sea a bit. Something I wouldn’t make a habit of doing, but something that felt good in the mood that I was in.
Staring up in the sky, I think about the fact that the sun has not set on me in 18 days. This stretch of time has been the longest and most exhausting day of my life. I look again at the sun, and thank it for being so warm today. And then I look out at the ocean, and take a moment to watch the icecaps melt before my eyes.
Our world is changing. And we’re a part of that change. What impact do you want to leave? Do you want to melt this ice in front of me? Does it matter what we want, in the long run?
We are free to live life. Create our lives exactly as we will. Absurd and beautiful all in one. One moment at a time.
The important part is to own every ounce of it, and even when you are in a tough spot and feel that you have no other options, to realize that you do.
I do have options. And I’m going remind myself to be one hundred percent in respect to my day to day actions. No regrets. Just remember to run.
Much love from the Arctic.
I’lll miss you so much, Syd. Send New Hampshire my thanks for letting us enjoy you this year. X