In 2014, Rebecca and her partner John left her lifelong home of Oakland, California in search of a better life. Their journey will take them to the Catskills in New York State, and eventually onto a converted school bus in which they will travel America.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Adjustment Period

Early Spring in Pine Hill.

I have been here almost three weeks, and a lot of what I have done in that time besides handling the practical matters of settling in is simply...adjusting. Every few days since I arrived, I felt as if a part of myself that I had left behind in Oakland finally caught up and reintegrated with the rest of me. Like some sort of travel-based temporary soul loss. The sense of unreality, disorientation, dysphoria and creeping fear gradually eased off until I felt, if not fully myself yet, much more like it.

Now and again, the fear still hits. I can be walking through the meat section of a New York grocery and suddenly I remember that I'll never see Oakland again. That I am uprooted. That my steady job is gone and I have to make it as a freelancer and crafter, and hope for the best. In those moments, I feel terrified, exposed, like a snail out of its shell. I feel frustration and anger that I had to leave my home in the first place, all over again. Then I breathe deep, focus on what's going on in that particular moment, and push through until the feeling goes away.

There have been anxiety attacks. Especially around my cats' tendency to slip their harnesses (or leak out the front door after an unsuspecting person) and go hide somewhere on the unfamiliar property. Not everyone around seems to fully understand what "emotional support animals for extreme anxiety" actually means. They are my source of unconditional, non-judgemental affection. We cuddle, they purr, I feel better, every time. When their stubborn young-cat stupidity gets them in trouble, I get upset. When people judge me for getting upset, I don't feel bad about myself for what I can't fully control. I wonder instead why they are so insensitive and ignorant. Anxiety is a disease, not some drama I kick up to inconvenience people. But anyway, the attacks have petered out except in cases of extreme stress and drama, proving again that my work to prepare for this trip mentally paid off.

Velcro is in fact a licensed professional. Of course, it's hanging from his collar....

My main focus now is getting an income that is not dependent on place--or at least not entirely dependent on place, since we will be staying here some months. Besides online freelance work, I will be opening an online shop for our crafts, and also publishing some of my fiction in electronic format. I also have some job applications in for local work; I just can't have that be my only angle. They will naturally prefer locals in a place like this, and besides, mobility is pretty key to my being able to keep money coming in.

Meanwhile, I'm taking advantage of the clean air and safe streets by taking long walks every day. I'm up to three miles a day on average, which is twice what I could do in the city without having an asthma attack. I hope to be making five miles daily regularly by the time we move on.

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