A little West and relaxation

26 January 2012

The sky is overcast and dull and snow is covering the entire ground. No, winter did not finally come to Northern Virginia. I’m sitting in a house in Ogden, Utah. How did I get here? You, David Byrne and I aren’t the only ones asking that same question.

As you, dear reader, know full well, I lived the last 18 months in Arlington, VA, just over the bridge from Washington, DC. During that time, I was working in a reproductive rights nonprofit covering the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As of January 13, 2012, my employment ended and I embarked on the next stage of my life – a stage that is currently nebulous and ill defined, but surprisingly not stressful.

GF and I began the transition into this new phase by selling all our furniture on Craigslist (where we met many interesting, yet dully un-sketchy characters), donating items to Goodwill and the local library and dealing with the various other interminable minutiae of moving.

Fortunately, with a three-month notice in to our employers, we had plenty of time to fit together the puzzle of relocating.

So, on January 13, 2012, I found myself unemployed with no employment prospects and no solid idea of where I would be within the next three months.

That is how GF and I ended up back in Utah (where I never thought I would return) living with her kind and generous parents in Ogden. Enough about us, let’s talk about me.

I was surprised how much I missed living in the West while back east. Looking out at the mountains and feeling the stresses of a fast pace dissipate remind me why I connected so much with Colorado and Utah. Speaking of Colorado, previous discussions set my sites on Denver as my next life location. As I am quickly learning with all decisions I declare, I must add the always-implied caveat, “We shall see.”

For now, I have mounting credit debt, no job, no job prospects, no clear sense of direction and no permanent home.

I have never felt more alive and free than at this exact moment.

Just over 18 months ago, I stood on the same porch I see to my right and talked to my best friend, JHP, about taking charge of my life and moving from Utah to find what is next for me. Now, I return to the porch with the knowledge and skills I acquired in DC and Virginia, fully seeing what it means to take charge of my life. It means accepting that my life can have no set pattern. That my life is my own and it will most likely not look like anyone else’s and will not fit into a certain mold.

Persons have asked me what I would like to do now that I am moving. The only response I can give is that I want to have a freelance lifestyle. I want to write songs, sitcoms, sketches and jokes and perform. I want the occasional odd job to help pay for my lifestyle. We’ll see what happens.

On a separate note, I realize I was a bit too harsh in my critiques of Utah while I lived here. Being back, I can see the allure of the place. Yes, I strongly disagree with the monolithic control of the Mormon Church and find the “alternative” scene lacking overall, but there is an appeal. As we drove in from the airport this past Tuesday, I realized that Salt Lake City (and much of Utah) is an isolated community, where you can ignore the outside world and build your own enclave. You can watch one of the worst (but my favorite) basketball teams, drink watered-down beer, eat surprisingly high-caliber food (some of the best in the country), see some incredible touring acts (like Centro-Matic, My Brightest Diamond, Built to Spill and Devotchka) and dig the outdoors. Yes, it was not for me and I cannot live here at this point in my life, but I can see the appeal, especially if you own a Subaru and like to ski.

I sit here, snow outside and warm coffee inside, with the sound of a hair dryer blowing in the background, content and anxious, completely free and unafraid. (I am referring, of course, to how I feel, not how the hair dryer feels. I cannot begin to speak for it.)

I have big plans for Cone Alone (my other blog), The Joseph Richards Show (my semi-regular podcast), Joey Cougar & The Starfish (my band) and JosephPatrickRichards.com in this coming year.

I will see more of my dreams come true before those damned Mayans destroy most of the planet and enslave all survivors.

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