Monday, December 13, 2010

I no longer believe in coincidence.

I have not known how to word my next post, what to include, what to omit.

Instead, I will pose an open-ended question: What do we fill our lives with, and why?

On the way from Los Angeles to San Francisco recently, I answered a craigslist ad. Since my smartphone is really a dumbphone, I had to handwrite the craigslist encoded email on paper, then hand-enter it into an email on my phone's browser. The person who posted the ad was an amateur sketch artist on the Peninsula, and we worked out that we would not exchange money, but rather I could stay with him for a week or so and I could sit for him when we were both free, and for a group he hosted on the weekend.

I can't describe why I felt compelled to answer this ad, or why he felt so compelled to respond; I had begun to feel like a hired object and needed to come down to earth, I guess was one motivating factor. I can't put words to the kindness he showed; he was respectful of my needs and space, cooked 3 meals a day when I was not working, drove me to the train when I was. He, one of his friends who attended the sketch group, and I had a very long conversation about life, and the things we go through. For some reason, I felt compelled to draw that day; I haven't drawn seriously in years.

The Universe gives us what we need in order to grow; sometimes, we have to go through challenges and what we may view as hardships. If we don't learn our lesson then, the Universe is patient, and the lesson will come in another form later. Our only job is to be ourselves; to really know our wants, desires, and purpose, in order to be a positive part of the world around us. If we do something untrue to ourselves, we surround ourselves with falsities- fake friends, a job we're unhappy with, a lover we don't really love.

This new friend ended up being the first person I saw when I found out my estranged father was diagnosed and in treatment for cancer. He was picking me up to get to another informal sketch group, and I decided that I needed to go. I felt compelled to draw that day.

I have gone through a few emotional breakdowns over the past few days, and a frantic call to my mother, saying I wish I could be there to take care of her, my grandparents, brother, and sister. I feel selfish. removed, and like I'm not a vital member of the family. Luckily, my mother echoed what I had heard a few days before- our only job in life is to be ourselves. I feel like I am on the right route; but, I think it would also be right to modify my life for a few months to be able to be an active member of the family again and still work as a traveling model. I have found a few places in Boston that would be potentially interested in using me as a life model in the Spring and Summer of '11, as well as a few artists in Boston and NYC.

As I type now, I am planning the next few months of traveling, comparing and contrasting Greyhound, Amtrak, and American Airlines. I have a complex system of formulas to deduce which days are best to travel by what mode. But, more importantly, I know where I want to be going. I do not believe I am the best model, the prettiest/ smartest/ whatever. I simply love what I do, know what I have to offer, and know what I want from those around me.

I can't describe how I feel; my father and I have never been close, especially not in the last few years. I had wanted someone that he could never be as a father; he had demonstrated that I was not what he wanted in a daughter. It was easiest to live separate of each other. But what now? The treatments should work, but it is still a shock to realize that we are all human, and only here for a limited time. We should not hold grudges, or do things that displease us just because it is an easier way to live.

In the end, what do we fill our lives with, and why?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Different Experience

Frequent travel can have its downsides- anything from a sore back from sleeping in your car to missing out on time with family. And while I've certainly had my fair share of restless nights curled up in the hatch of my car, my lifestyle as a traveling model has allowed me to see much more of my family than I did prior.

I've never been good at selecting exceptionally profitable jobs. Before working as an art model, I worked in a low-cost veterinary clinic. Not surprisingly, low-cost clinics don't pay their employees especially well. I lived across the country from my family, and visits were exceptionally rare. Even when family members came to visit, I generally was working at least a few of the days that they were in town. I simply couldn't afford to take that much time off of work- nevermind the prohibitive cost if I wanted to fly out to Indiana to visit them. We used e-mail and phone to stay in touch, but I had relatively little face-time with my family.

A schedule with infinite flexibility and frequent travel changes things. I'm now able to visit my family in Indiana a couple of times a year. My father and I have been able to resume our ongoing Scrabble competition. My mother has gotten to know her granddog, Jitterbug. Were it not for the trajectory my life has taken, I would still only be seeing my next of kin once a year, if even that often.

I'm lucky. I know that. I'm thankful for my time on the road- it keeps things interesting, but it also keeps me close to family.