Advice

Place is Effing Therapy—And Where You Are Can Change Your Life

June 29, 2023

Feeling suffocated & disconnected? Where you live might be impacting you more than you think.

Well, now I know why people have guns!

When you’re at an Airbnb in the middle of the woods and the giant picture window in the living room doesn’t come with any curtains?! You, too, are going to start imagining a guy named Roger peering in with vacant eyes, ready to tie you up and slice off your fingerprints and make you sing songs from Sunday School while he severs your femoral artery and says a prayer for his mama.

As if you actually know any songs from Sunday School!

EMBARRASSING MISCALCULATION, ROGER.

Fucking Roger, always fucking things up.

Well, guess what, Rog? That’s why I have a long stabby thing beside me. I may look like I’m all sweet and innocent in my white cotton-eyelet dress, but I’m actually a fire-breathing snow leopard and will kill everyone in this room. (That is, after I sweetly ask you about your childhood and build up your self-esteem and make you believe you can do great things and make you fall in love with me…then…that’s right when I got ‘em. ZAMMO!)

Or maybe I should just get curtains.

SO ANYWAY, HOW’S YOUR THURSDAY GOING???

Honestly it’s been a real ride, spending all of this time in my hometown. I have thought things. Many, many things. (Including the grand idea that somebody really needs to put back my childhood skating rink, dammit.) But, you know what’s striking me the most?

How good it feels to not have to be “on.”

We spend our lives putting on airs. Showing up to impress. Being the kind of person that people want to follow. (I could gag on a family of cockroaches.)

But you know what happens when you go home?

You run into 1,000 mirrors.

This person over here shows you who you were at age 14, when you had your first crush and your hair was still curly and your eyebrows were astonishing and yet nothing else mattered but the sentence they were going to say next.

Another person you run into shows you, through the mirror they hold, who you were at age 8, when you rollerbladed together in circles and circles and circles in your father’s barber shop, before swinging yourself right into the wall and knocking down his prized trout. The tail broke off. You’d never made a mistake like that before. You learned how to say you were sorry—and actually mean it.

Another person shows you what you were like at 17, when you met up at the Harford Fair, and you both tried to pretend you were only going to be friends. Is that girl still in there? their eyes ask. The one I fell in love with twenty-three 4th of Julys ago?

Someone else reminds you that you used to wear sweatshirts and slip ons to the store. That you used to make plans without dreading them. That you used to laugh with all your heart. That you used to be free.

These people have bore witness to your life. They were there for your every pimple, your every bad hair day, your every terrible outfit decision. They were there for your first date, your first kiss, your first detention. They were there the day you lost your friend. The day your mom died. The day life became more than a weekend down at the lake.

And, there’s something so transformative about that—this idea that, no matter where you’ve gone and what you’ve done and the accolades you’ve gotten and the fuck-ups you’ve accumulated, you’ll always just be you when you’re here. There is no need to peacock; no need to posture. No one would believe you, anyway. They know exactly who you are. Because there’s a part of you that will always be seventeen in a pair of Levis, walking through wet grass, hoping the lip gloss in your pocket will make you invincible.

For me, going home is like therapy: you can freeze time and stand still and check your alignment—has it all been worth it? And do you like who you see in the mirror now?

Sometimes we need that grounding. Especially when your head lives in the cloud—by which I mean the digital cloud, and by which I mean WE ARE SO DISCONNECTED.

This is the irony, isn’t it? More connected than ever to the world. Less connected to who we are inside of it.

I come home to recharge my soul batteries—which is absolutely the most annoying thing I’ve ever said. And honestly?

Who I am depends on where I am.

That’s not supposed to be the truth, is it? I’m supposed to be myself all the time! Wherever I go! Nothing can change me! I am STEEL!

But, being in a place is like being with a person: some people make you feel exhausted, drained, unable to listen to them for one more minute. And others? Well, they energize you. Build you up. Make you feel whole.

Places are like that, too.

They aren’t the backdrop to your life, but a leading character. And you’re always in conversation. The trees. The land. The fog. The sky.

Does the place where you are bring out your best qualities?

Or, does it suffocate your spirit?

Are you exhausted…or energized?

This alone is just one more reason why it’s critical to be able to live & work from anywhere: your health depends on it. Your happiness does, too. Do not underestimate the importance of feeling good when you walk out that door. The air becomes you. And, the way it feels to be there becomes your truth.

My only recommendation is that your soul-searching come with curtains.

And maybe your living room window, too.


Selfish School is now open with me, Ash!

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