Have you ever started something with the complete intention of it being wonderful? Brilliant? Positive perhaps? Well, such has been the case with every “new beginning” I’ve ever had somewhere. I start out so hopeful, so expectant and happy, thinking that absolutely everything I’ve ever wanted will be fulfilled in this new place. But see, that’s not how it works. New places are only new for so long, people are only new for a day and… well, you get the picture. I began this blog (after closing many other successful blogs) thinking that I would write about something extraordinarily groundbreaking, but the truth is, this is nothing but my truth as it is.
I’ve been a nomad since I was born, my mother says I was a nonconformist from the start. I was born kicking my feet so fast as if stating that I was ready to run, ready to get out of that hospital and grab a suitcase, doctors were impressed. It’s no surprise that since then I’ve lived in many different places. It’s not that there aren’t people who have moved more than I have, but in my reality I’ve moved a lot. I’ve lived many lives and have been a part of so many different events, places, and movements, that sometimes I forget which is which, and why I was even in the places where I was. I am a nonconformist indeed, I always wonder what is beyond the horizon, and even when things seemed pretty “settled” I always ask myself if I truly whole heartedly wanted to be where I was in that moment. The answer is usually a “no”. I didn’t mean to turn into this person, it just sort of happened. For most of my life I grew up in the United States, but I got a taste of the Caribbean, of South America, and that was enough to spark my interest in leaving as soon as I could. I never fit in (no surprise) and of course in my wild imagination I knew myself to be an Eliza Thornberry (90s kid reference) who would one day speak to animals and travel the world in its entirety on endless adventures. I sought refuge in these thoughts when I had no place, I sought refuge in the dream of someone, of something, of anything that was way beyond my present because that meant my present would change. When a relationship would fail I would always tell myself: “Who cares? You didn’t want to be here anyway, you know there’s someone out there who’s as adventurous as you, this guy wouldn’t stand a chance hiking through the amazon, much less camping in the Arctic!” those have been my thoughts, my security blankets, my daydreams, year after year, and those things have become who I am at the moment.
My latest move has been to Valencia, Spain. If you ask me how I got here, I can’t exactly answer that question. It’s bizarre really, at some point I had booked a spot at a University in Barcelona to begin a doctorates whose subject I scarcely remember, and somehow I ended up presenting a thesis in Valencia. Now, this place was an instant deja vu the second I arrived. I recall visiting that mysteriously otherworldly city of arts and sciences once before in a dream. I knew I had seen it, I knew I had walked these streets before in some other dimension (if you belive in that sort of thing) but more than anything, I was convinced for the first two weeks of my new life here that this place and I were…meant to be. It all begins that way of course, and like any relationship which is passionate and fiery in the beginning but is based on nothing but initial flame, things die off. So it was, after a few weeks, doubt began to seep in, but more than doubt, things began to go wrong. There were friends I had re-encountered which weren’t friends at all, there were places that weren’t that great, there was a Doctorates that I couldn’t begin, and suddenly I found myself completely displaced and already daydreaming of my new escape route. I realized pretty quickly that we weren’t meant to be, that Valencia and I were falling out of love and I wanted nothing more than to continue believing that I would fall in love with a better, more suitable alternative. I desperately looked for a “new purpose” a new reason for being here, and I found that through the means of a rather ‘hipster’ church which promised to put me to work, and give me a new reason for being a part of this city. At first, the flashing lights and teeny bopper techno music seemed more comical than it did spiritual, but in an attempt to get over my own musical prejudices (which can be quite bourgeoisie) I gave it a chance. Soon enough I was so enveloped in this church that I had forgotten all about my issues, and maybe in that moment it’s what I wanted, but it wasn’t what I needed. I forgot my issues, but I also forgot my original purpose, or the fact that I was on a huge mission to do something with my life.
My time at that church extended from the fall, to the beginning of spring. Within that time I went from being a confident musician, with strong opinions, and a sense of ‘nomadicness’ which couldn’t be tamed, to someone who was terrified to be who she truly was. I felt that simply by being myself I would offend someone, and I wasn’t wrong to think that way. For reasons that were never and most likely will never be explained, I was told suddenly that I wasn’t allowed to sing anymore after being almost “begged” to be a part of the music team, and slowly and without explanation I was indirectly being “punished” for something I can’t explain, I was somehow being disciplined and slowly I began to feel I wasn’t good at anything. Now looking back, it was nothing short of an abusive relationship. I was given liberty, then it was taken away, then I was blamed and called out on things I never did, then I was told my ways of thinking were wrong… then I was made to believe that my way of relating to God was wrong. Suddenly it became that the only thing I should ever aspire to do in life is “build a church” and these words were repeated to me for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Suddenly my “new purpose” had become an iron cage which to others looked like acceptance, and inclusion, and happiness, but to me felt like impending doom. I had this constant knot in the very pits of my stomach, something which told me that things were not right, that all of the signs I was intuitively picking up on were screaming at me to get away. But it’s hard to run away when you forget who you are, and when you forget where you are running to. It’s hard to escape when you lose your sense of purpose. But somehow, I think that was the plan all along. To find someone who felt they had lost their sense of purpose and give them a militant-like brainwashing just to make sure they would stay faithful to something that isn’t even realistic. But then came March, and I could feel that I had managed to fall from the grace which I had been so “kindly” given before. Somehow I wasn’t the chosen one anymore, I wasn’t accepted like I had been just a few months before, the indirect signs had become a bit more direct and I was picking up on something. Suddenly my new purpose came crashing down. I was betrayed, I was shunned, and when I, in my most humblest attempts wanted to fix things, I got the best and most pettiest of hypocritical answers. Everything was hidden under the love of a god that doesn’t truly exist within the walls of places like that, a god I didn’t recognize. Everything was hidden underneath filtered pictures, and cult-like followings of mega church ministries, and fancy graphic designs and videos, lights, cameras… all of it, all of that rubbish. All my efforts were gone behind excuses to better things, and to remove that which doesn’t fit in, which in that case was me. I didn’t have the strength to say anything, to argue anything, what for? They would never see what they did wrong. Nor will anyone else. The mighty ones have the social media presence, they have the photos and the following, the people like me… well, we find our own place in the world when no one gives us one. It was the end, and even in the death of something, I was glad. I was glad because I could find God for myself again.
I don’t know what I think of Valencia anymore, we’ve had so many stains on our relationship that it’s hard to move on together. I still look to the North and dream of my precious Scandinavia, I still miss Norway, but then I think: “What if somewhere in Norway there exists a church like this? Friends that betray, ideas that fail, projects that don’t work out…” what if every place I’ve ever romanticized is just another place? Another imperfect place, waiting for you to arrive just so that it can fail you in some way or another and have you feeling exactly how I feel right now. Being a nomad is hard, believing is hard, being a part of something is hard. When you live so many lives, you master the art of letting go, but really things just let go of you. Time will let go of you, people let go of you. True nomads leave a piece of them in every place, there’s always a bit of sadness and nostalgia when they think about the coffee shop they used to go to every Tuesday when they lived in X city. There’s always a bit of a sigh when they remember their favourite park, or the parties they went to with the friends they met at a certain pub, or fair. Why is this I wonder? Why is life lived so steadily by some and so unpredictably by others? I have no idea. But for now I’m still here, wondering what my new purpose for being here is, and trying my best to erase some things. I have to try, so that as I walk through these streets I realize that one day I will remember these streets, I will remember these restaurants, and the people who made me laugh here, not the disappointments.