What the Hell Am I Doing?

Like seriously! How the *#&% did I get through that next week.

So have you ever felt like you absolutely have no idea what is going on or why are doing anything you are trying to do? 

The past 10 days or so, I have found myself asking “Why the hell are you doing this again?” After a full week of feeling down after initial excitement, I truly had to accept that I absolutely had no idea what lay ahead for me. I was staring through clouds and for the first time truly felt that I will have no idea where I’m going to land for a long while yet. And after being scared for my brother and his wife, upset over not having hosts where I thought I wanted to be, worried that I was going to be losing money too quickly, and facing so much indecisiveness, I listened to just one suggestion of the one person who had been witnessing me go through every facet of this emotional journey. 

        Ali was the one that suggested I head to DC. And I was able to respond right back that I really missed being on a long train ride and missed the city of Chicago. I accepted that I would have to wander for a short while until I arrived at a destination where I did have a host. 

        And that’s exactly what happened. I booked a flight for Washington DC and an Amtrack to Chicago from there. Easy as that. I found lodging in Georgetown within a half hour bus ride to the DC Capitol Mall, and I made the personal decision to get to DC before worrying about booking a stay in Chicago. It no longer mattered that I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going; I just needed to keep going! 

        So after having a great last night in Durham over a homemade dinner with a couple of Ali’s friends, I was on my way. And it wasn’t until I was on the road to the airport that I had remembered that my very first month long trip I had taken had resulted in something very similar. I had been staying with hosts all through the summer of 2008, and when I arrived in Charlottesville at my hosts’ home, I found out that my New York lodging had fallen through. My hosts didn’t miss a beat. Right away they suggested I end my trip in Washington DC instead, and even helped me book a hotel. And that resulted in a long weekend I have never forgotten. 

        When I know I’m only going to spend a couple of days in a big city, I get very focused on what and where and how my energy (and money) should be spent. This is why there are only pictures of very specific places or objects. The great thing about Washington DC is that all the museums on the Mall are free. The bus rides are very inexpensive. Georgetown itself can provide a whole evening of entertainment just walking around and looking at shops located in 18th to mid 20th century buildings. 

        Once again, I’m very happy for Ali’s suggestion. Since he knew I was a fan of contemporary art, he had suggested the Hirshhorn Art Museum. I was able to spend a couple of hours in my second exhibit this year devoted to 20th and 21st century women artists specifically communicating their own expressions of holding their own in a still male dominated art world. I enjoyed a café latte and pastries from a French bakery across the street from me. 

        But perhaps the most surprising experiences were what I ended up doing to bring my anxiety down and find some familiar comfort in my surroundings. And I found it in places that reminded me of places that brought me comfort in the DFW area. A food stand selling empanadas. Picking up cookies from an Insomnia Cookies location. Walking by a Lutheran Church building that practically screamed “we celebrate the queers!” with the banners over the gray stone exterior. And right next door to the place I had chosen to stay was a family owned Tex Mex restaurant, owned and run by people that reminded me of the same people that operate these restaurants in Texas. 

        And just when everything is feeling cozy again, I’m once again reminded I’m unprepared and have no idea what I’m doing. Chicago had no places even close to what I could afford, and I was scheduled to get on a train the next day. I was able to secure a place for my second night, but I had to board the train not knowing where I would stay when I arrived. And the reason? I never thought to check on what big events might affect lodging. I had decided to travel to Chicago the weekend of the Chicago Marathon, and there were 50,000 runners from all over the world running this year. 

        And this is where Thomas enters the scene. After interacting with him on Instagram for a few months, he had paid me a visit when he was visiting family in Dallas. It was then I discovered that he had grown up in Texas and had moved out to Chicago, something several of my college friends had decided to do years ago. It was Thomas that reminded me that the marathon was happening and offered that regardless of whatever the situation was, he would pick me up and spend the afternoon with me when I arrived, and hopefully, by the end of the afternoon, something would become available. 

        I had only visited Chicago’s Chinatown perhaps once before in 2006 when my first partner and I had stayed near there on his first visit to Chicago. After I arrived at Chicago’s Union Station, I checked on my apps. Nothing had popped up in my price range, and I still wasn’t even successful in securing a night in the least expensive hotel I could find, which was still double what I was trying to pay. 

        And then it happened. The Chinatown Hotel was showing a room available a half hour before I was to be picked up for my afternoon with Thomas. It was available in my price range and I had considered staying in Chinatown several times before. I quickly booked the room within minutes of my planned afternoon with my new Texan/Chicago dwelling friend. 

        After a lunch and afternoon spent catching up and setting tentative plans, Thomas then drops me off at the Chinatown Hotel. When we enter the Chinatown archway, Thomas commented how nice it was to see the big banner welcoming the Marathon runners. What even he didn’t know was that the marathon actually ended in Chinatown. So the very event that was the reason I also couldn’t find a place in the city ended up being the event I never I heard and watched much of the morning, and I joined in the cheering. 

        I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing yet, but I’m making a go of it. An online work day that I had with my music business support collective gave me opportunities to see what works and does not work for the way I want to schedule my days devoted for being productive. It came as not surprise that one being I have no desire to limit my lunch time to 30 minutes at anywhere near or before noon. (Too many triggers of what I’ve left behind.) I had maneuvered my way through a productive work day and been very successful in finding how much I can actually finish in different blocks of time. 

        Despite being scared, upset, worried, and unsure of making decisions, I chose to follow a friend’s suggestion which led to several days of surprises and nail-biting, edge-of-my-seat small victories. I’m still having to admit that I’m still very connected to Texas, and likely will be until I empty a storage space and return to finish things that I need to follow through with. My answer to most people checking up on me these last few weeks has been exactly this: “I’m still feeling very good about my decision to travel, and be where I am now. I’ve faced some challenges that got me down, but I still know something will work out.” 

And it actually has. The wandering didn’t last as long as I thought it would. In the middle of vagabond-like travel, I received a message from another great friend. “I really enjoy a visit from you. I miss you!” And this person only a connection to Texas because of me. 

        I’d love to hear your stories about what you’ve done despite not knowing what the hell is going on. If I haven’t said it before, you are always welcome to respond to these emails anytime. Ask questions. Give your feedback or comments. Respond back with your own stories.

Leave a comment