My mom and her partner were visiting last weekend (hi mom!), and I had an interesting discussion with them and my manpartner. I feel very blessed that they support me being with this military man, but it was a bit shocking to hear how much they supported the function of a military partnership. I have always felt that, while I support my manfriend, I owe nothing to the military, and they owe nothing to me. That’s what I believe is the benefit of not being married. If the military feels no obligation towards non-married partners, then why should we have any obligation towards them?
A phrase I’ve seen discussed recently in “civilian vs military” blogs, posts, and articles is “It’s what you signed up for.” It’s essentially a fuck you to military servicepeople and their families, kind of like “You knew what you were getting yourself into.” And I’ll admit it, I’ve said it to my man buddy. It’s a mean thing to say, but to be honest, it’s how I felt. When I considered doing ROTC, I truly thought about what it would mean, and eventually I decided not to join because I knew it would be a load of bullshit and I wouldn’t truly get to fight for what I wanted. (Yes, there was a time when I considered ROTC, but then realized that any photographs I’d take would be property of the government, and I’d essentially lose my copyrights.)
My manfriend has to do the stupidest things, like stay awake for 24 hours to do nothing and then go straight into work. The day before 4th of July weekend he had to run a poorly planned ridiculous obstacle course for 6 hours with no food or water. If there’s ever another debt ceiling debate that goes on too long, he has to work without pay because he’s considered “essential.” I agree that things like this, yes, you can absolutely be angry about and things that shouldn’t happen. But as I’ve said to him, did you seriously not expect this absurd bullshit from the military? No, it’s not “what you signed up for,” but was it not expected with the territory?
To me, this is different from the hardships that aren’t outlined in the job descriptions or the common-knowledge adversities (at least, what I would consider “common knowledge”). When military partners and families struggle with the emotional impact of deployment, of moving from place to place, of isolation from the rest of the population…no. No one signs up for these things. But from what I can see, the military blogging community tells similar stories to each other, and although it’s on the internet for everyone to see, no one’s looking for it.
And this is why I desperately want (need?) to start my photography project. I’m not very experienced with the military lifestyle, but I also wouldn’t consider myself a typical civilian either. I feel very in between the worlds, and so I believe that I am in the position to bring both worlds together. Not that I’m going to single-handedly bridge the ginormous gap, but I believe I can contribute to it in a way few people can or will.
Anyway, maybe I’ll include some of this in my grant proposals. But first, I have to make some work. That’s the worst part about all this: I can’t ask for money until I’ve gotten started on the project, but I can’t really start the project until I have money. Oh, the vicious cycles of applying for grants and loans…
I’ve had a few interesting conversations the past couple weeks. They all seem to revolve around the theme of change and growth. As I’ve written here before, I can’t believe I’ve done what I’ve done. I took a huge leap of faith and started from scratch in a completely new city. I remember people telling me that I wouldn’t like Atlanta, or that I was making a poor decision to leave my connections behind, or that I’d miss New York City too much to make it in a new place.
Whether or not these things are true, I like feeling like I proved people wrong, or at least that I impressed them with how amazing my life is now. Sure, in NYC I’d probably be doing something I love, like working for a non-profit or a film festival. In other aspects of my life, however, I don’t think I would’ve challenged myself. In Fall 2009 I started taking belly dancing classes with a friend and I loved it. I continued to go on a regular basis, but I eventually stopped going because it didn’t really fit into my routine I had created for myself. And I remember being really sad about it because I felt like that belly dancing class represented a part of me I felt was lost or stunted.
Here in Atlanta, my job certainly isn’t the highlight of my time here, but I’m doing things that make me happy. I feel like I’m growing as a person. I definitely have my regular bar and I don’t go out all the time to try new places with my roommates, but I’m twirling baton, which has been a dream I shelved years ago. I never would’ve pursued this in NYC or even California like I have here. Turnin’ TriXXX has opened my eyes to the things I can do. Silly sounding, I know, but I never would’ve committed myself to something like this if I even had a hint of structure or routine to my life.
I guess my point is this: you can’t hate on people who feel like drones in their own life. I’ve been there, and it feels super lame. I wouldn’t suggest you leave everything behind tomorrow to learn to play some obscure instrument in some rural Indian town, but I would encourage you to leave your routine behind. I still have my routines, like making myself eggs and toast every morning before work, but I genuinely feel like every day is a clean slate.
Try it. You might like it.
I have a lot to say but I don’t want to say anything about how good life could be soon because I don’t want to jinx it. I just want to let you know I’m still alive and, while life has been tough, it may/hopefully will get better.
Huzzah! So stay tuned and hope that I have enough karma points to get me through this next couple weeks…
Yesterday I was really thinking about the immigrant population. The people who own the Package Store in Little 5 Points are Asian. (Chinese or Korean? Not sure.) Seeing them makes me think “Of course Asians would invest in a liquor store in this neighborhood. It’s a steady business.” And it finally hit me that, other than Mexicans, Asians make up a decent number of illegal immigrants in this country. Does this occur to everyone else? Have I just completely missed that these past few years?
Today I had an awesome day. I went to the locally-owned Libertine for a couple hours, then had lunch at the Yacht Club, then went shopping for an outfit at Rag O Rama to wear to the Dead Elvis show at Star Bar next weekend. Now I’m sitting on my roof in the beautiful weather.
Sure, I could’ve done something similar to this in NYC: walked around the village, had lunch at Corner Bistro, then chilled out in the park, or do something similar in Brooklyn. But when it comes down to it, NYC isn’t Atlanta. A weird comparison to make, I know, but NYC is old news. It will always change and it will always be great and it will always have something to offer. But Atlanta is like an undiscovered, awesome, sparkling gem that people won’t touch because it’s in the south. Someone came into Libertine today and complained about all the hipster Burning Man hippies living in Portland who ride their bikes drunk wearing all black at night.
San Francisco, NYC, Portland, and eventually Seattle all become the same thing: taken over by the next generation of yuppies and hippies trying to make the urban world a better place. I don’t think that will ever happen to Atlanta (knock on wood). I think anyone not from the south will be too intimidated to come here. Atlanta will go through its gentrification and will always have its issues, but when it comes down to it, Atlanta will almost always be the Atlanta people remember it to be.
And yes, that’s something great about NYC. (I can’t speak much for SF since I’ve never actually lived in the city. And LA doesn’t count because it sucks.) New York is always changing. People go to New York to introduce new ideas and try to make the next best thing. But New York has already lived through its glory days. Years from now it will have a revival, but right now it’s washed out. Nothing exciting is really going on, other than the usual NYC nonsense.
Atlanta, specifically Little 5 Points, is still growing and developing. There are times when I feel like I’m still part of the creation of this neighborhood. Can you imagine what it was like living in the West Village in the 70s? To be part of the identity of a neighborhood? That’s how I feel sometimes here. Everyone here works so hard not only for themselves, but for this city. For Little 5 Points. At least for now there’s very little gentrification from what I can see because most people have lived here since L5P came to be.
And sometimes it makes me sad to know that in 3 years I’ll probably leave for another city. But at the same time, I’m excited because if I hadn’t made the risky decision to move here, I never would have experienced all these amazing things. It’s obviously too early to tell, but when I make the decision to live somewhere of my own accord, I think I’ll have to move back here.
Now all I have to do is find a job I truly love.
My roommate’s friend stayed with us for these past couple of days. She grew up around Philadelphia, lived in San Francisco, and now she’s traveling around the world until she decides what to do next. She’s got a camping backpack and a couple other bags and that’s it.
It used to be a lifestyle I wanted to pursue, partially because my ex-boyfriend was similar: he grew up in DC, and before attending NYU, he lived in San Francisco for a year and traveled a bit. I wanted that hippie, bohemian, nomadic lifestyle. I wanted to travel around the world and meet random people and make art and live a colorful life, like Auntie Mame (which I watched last night).
There are a lot of choices I’ve made that led me away from that dream. I left NYC. I left the Bay Area. I walked away from some amazing job opportunities and comfortable lifestyles, and for what? To follow an Army boy? To have a job completely unrelated to art? To live nowhere near my family?
Oddly enough, it was all for love. I moved to Atlanta with nothing but my savings account. I knew no one, I had no job, no connections, nothing. I just moved here because I’m 22 and in love. It’s certainly not what I dreamed of doing, and it’s not what I thought I wanted to do, but here I am. And life is good when you have love. Except for when it lives 400 miles away.