. When the Wind Shifts.

I pull myself off a lump and sink into a dip. My alarm sounds somewhere far away. I’m so hungry. Light floods my room and ambient sound pushes against the walls. When was the last time I ate something? Water runs freely in my bathroom, as I stand, frozen, waiting on every word the weatherman utters. I pull out a sweater; it smells like sawdust. My coat has paint splatters. I shove both in my bag and fly downstairs in a panic that my heart has come to expect every morning at 8. No time for coffee today, the train will pull up in two minutes. It’s a race against time, and the elevator.

I rode into New York with the wind. Growing up in the wine country I had the most stable of upbringings. We moved to my house when I was merely one and planted roots. Thick, multiple decade sized roots. I found it strange and uncomfortable when friends moved. I had never experienced what it was to pack, clean up, and move out. Stability riddled my life.

When I flew the coop, I left for school in southern California.  I went to a small Christian university in a tiny suburban town. When I moved, something inside me shifted towards independence. My belongings were my own; my choices were my own. Choices became my driving force, independence just one boundary away.

I studied art, my first big decision. I took photos, went out, ate junk, and met a boy. Our first few dates had me giddy. He listened to me, cared for me and embraced my search for independence. He loved me. I loved him, in the purest, simplest sense. He fulfilled my needs. He surprised and inspired me.

My first summer back from college marked one of my favorite stops along my journey. I signed up to work at a camp in the mountains near my hometown. Here, I instructed rock climbing, documented camp life for the website and watched deer drink from the creek that hugged my cabin.

To my chagrin, I returned to LA for school. Compared to the mountains, my life here was brown. The air was brown, the grass was brown, even the beaches were predominantly bland. Nothing struck me as beautiful about my surroundings. I returned simply to complete my education.

Then it came, the deciding moment that set my movement in motion. The simple newness of my relationship had broken down. What remained required work, which nether of us were capable of at the time.

I was faced with my first true crisis. Experts say that when in danger you are left with two options, flight or fight. I concretely default to flight.

So I flew. On a whim, with the wind, I headed north. I broke away from everything that was safe at school and drove. I left classes, work and a boy who loved me behind, and ran. I landed on the couch of a friend in San Luis Obispo.

I stretched the sleep off my bones my first morning in SLO. I gathered the comforter around my shoulders and took a drag of fresh air. How did I get here? Everything seemed unreal. It was so bright. The scent of the incense infiltrated my whole body and I emanated a sweet smoke. The air was clear, the silence full, my thoughts muddy. It was extraordinarily genuine, unbelievably true. Me, or someone very much like me, had made every choice that landed me on this couch.

I was me, but without my identifiers. While on this solitary island I was hit with a second crisis that cracked my world.  My beloved friend from high school had been killed in a car accident.

I no longer felt safe. I no longer felt free. The chasm between my support system and me settled into my being. I was totally without the love and support I had received from the boy I loved.

I cried harder than I ever had that night and sank into a deep, dreamless sleep.

I packed the next morning, not fleeing from my pain, but running back to LA, to fight it with a support system I needed. For the first time, fight became my reality and flight was not an option. I returned home.

I realized my love for that boy was worth the fight. We pushed, we pulled, we worked hard and we worked things out, just in time to receive my acceptance letter into an art program in New York City. He was none too pleased to spend a summer and a semester away from me, but unexpectedly supportive of the opportunity. We packed our bags and headed our separate ways.

Despite my parents “no moving home” rule, they wanted me home that summer to get a job and save money. Having gained quite a bit of my independence, my feathers ruffled at this option.  I returned home, unpacked my things and applied for jobs all the high school locals had already landed. My redemption came when my boyfriend’s parents found me a home to stay at in Washington. Sam, my boy, found me a job at a paper factory.  With a couple days notice, I packed my life up in a suitcase and followed the wind to Lynden, WA, a tiny town just three miles south of the Canadian border. I pulled up to a beautiful home nestled right in the middle of the woods.

I fell asleep on the hammock pouring through novels more days than I can count. I picked fresh strawberries from the yard and wandered through the forest.  I existed with the few things I had packed in my small suitcase and a fresh vase of flowers every day.

My peaceful summer came to a quiet end as I packed my belongings for a stay in New York; the move would change my life.

I sat in silence, letting the sound of traffic fill my dark room. It seemed giant, empty, and new. I met with the same feeling I had in SLO. Start with the basics. I was on my own, staring at a maze of subways and trying to locate the closest grocery store. It was a fresh, new start.

I created work about silence, stillness and new beginnings. It was that morning in SLO, that night in Brooklyn. It was that feeling of being taken away from others, work, school, and left with just you. My work consumed me and cost me. I would forgo breakfast to buy more wood. I cut out meat to afford paint. I was the quintessential starving artist, surviving on rice and beans. I was ecstatic. My life was fully saturated with my passion. I was the version of myself I’d like to be forever.

While I lived in New York, my sister, my best friend, moved to Telluride. While I never moved to Colorado, I visited enough for Corrine’s world to become my own. It was a door to a life I could have. A peaceful utopia, juxtaposed against my chaotic life in LA. Like a little girl, I hatched a plan to run away. This tendency is what saves me when the wind shifts and my soul stirs. There’s always Colorado.

Throughout the duration of my nomadic years, I thought the one thing anchoring me was school in LA. However, in New York it dawned on me I could go to school anywhere. I returned for Sam. I could have lived anywhere, but the man I loved lived in LA and dreamt of scoring films. I married that man.

My journey has taken me from the wine country to LA, the mountains of a summer camp to the peaceful forest of Washington, the escape of the Colorado Rockies to the joys of starving in Brooklyn.  Of all of the stops this restless spirit has made, Los Angeles has surprisingly become the place I call home.

When you travel, when you move, you explore. I’ve come to employ that same mentality in settling into a more stationary life. I spend my time flipping through vinyl, adding to my used book collection, and dining around the world, all within a few blocks of my studio. My alarm clock sounds somewhere far away. I shove my sweater in my bag and fly down the stairs.


One thought on “. When the Wind Shifts.

  1. Beautiful Brieanna! I enjoyed the story, the images it evoked, and insight to the person! If this was shortened, how powerful is the full version? Great read!

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