Today marks my one year anniversary of living in Seattle. Back then, I was a struggling writer with an unfinished novel, no job, and a hope that this move would stick, and that I would be able to craft my own life, apart from my parents, much as I had in Tokyo. Today, I am a struggling writer with an unfinished novel, no job, and a hope that this move will stick, dependent upon, as before, a well-paying job, or several semi-well paying jobs.
The situation today seems sadly similar to the situation a year ago, except that I now know more people here, and have more friends. My motivation for job hunting, however, is at an all-time low. I wonder what the point is. I wonder what I am qualified to do, besides writing. And even getting a job writing requires knowledge of subjects that I don’t have (like the live music scene here in Seattle): there are already writers for the subjects I know.
The novel, too, is closer to completion than it was a year ago, though not much more. My motivation for writing that, at least, is beginning to pick up. Every day now, though, I wake up with a familiar feeling in my chest: one of loneliness, and despair.
When I had these feelings in Japan, I would go on bike rides to my favorite park, or go exploring, or plan a vacation. I don’t have a bike in Seattle, but I still can go on walks, and I know which places are bustling with the most people. Just to be around people, to see them enjoying life, is enough–in the short term–to break me from my misery. In the long term, however, I need to be constantly engaged in activities, and feel that there are people out there whom I can call anytime.
This is what lack of work does to me: I become a willing prisoner in my room. Perhaps if I owned a laptop, I could at least move around from location to location, writing outside, or in the library. Somewhere, at least, where people are. But, as I said, it’s not enough to be around people. I need to interact with them. I need to stay actively engaged with the world, or I feel as if I am doing nothing.
Do I need a job in order to interact on a daily basis with people? No, but I need some form of organized activity that gives me free time without freeing up my entire day. I go to events at night, figuring that it doesn’t really matter if I spend twenty dollars more here or there: the amount of time I can stay unemployed and live here remains the same. Unless, of course the next job I get doesn’t cover all expenses. In that case, it may very well factor in, but that kind of job I wish not to have.
But I get away from the topic at hand. One year living on my own, with no real permanent job, is quite an accomplishment. To come out here at all is an accomplishment, sustained by luck, chance, and two people named Brian and Irene, who let me stay with them for that first critical month that I was in Seattle, knowing not a soul and trying to find employment of any kind. And then my friend in Boston leading me to the Meetup site. The friends I’ve met there. My lucky breaks (the luckiest of which I wrote about here, though now that job is gone, too).
And as I write this, I feel something I haven’t felt in a while: anticipation. Anticipation for what tonight brings (the complete Metropolis with the Alloy Orchestra). Anticipation for what tomorrow brings (a potluck dinner that I’m hosting). And, finally, anticipation for the future. And hope. Today, for the first time in a while, I no longer feel despair, just nerves. Perhaps it’s because I’ve almost finished writing my diary entries. Perhaps it’s because of the poem I wrote yesterday, after hearing and becoming inspired by Ginsberg’s “Howl” (though my poem is quite different).
Perhaps it’s because I’m writing again, and learning again what I know, and able to leave bad memories behind, and relish in the good ones.