In 1967, a couple of guys named Holmes and Rahe listed life’s most traumatic events, and four of the top ten happened to me when I moved here. Even though some were my choice, it’s taken me three San Francisco years to realize just how traumatic my move from East to West has been. Fun, yes. Entertaining. Definitely. But until recently, I didn’t take time to sit still and realize: I’m building an entire new life here!
Holmes and Rahe suggest a spouse’s death is the top trauma (so far, thank goodness, both my current and my ex are alive and kicking); divorce follows close behind (mine happened long enough ago to not matter; in fact, I share a house in this fine town with my ex and my current spouse); a jail term (again, not quite yet); and marriage itself (been there, am in the middle of that) are all in the top 10. I’m clear of those. However, moving here, I did experience No. 9 on the list, being fired from a job. I did the “firing” when I opted for less of my life to be in rehearsal halls and more of it at my writing desk, but I changed careers. I’ve also experienced No. 5, death of a close relative (see the Marina Times, February 2012 “Mighty Redwoods I Have Known”), and have had a run in with No. 6, some illness. Both of them are now in the past, but they did happen when I moved here. So, realization of loss has been part of my San Francisco relocation. Retirement, No. 10? Yes, I can honestly say, I’ve retired from the theatre, at least as I used to be engaged in it.
It has taken me these three years to struggle through the figurative fog, to recognize I am actually here!
So, in this, my birthday month, I’ve realized some gifts gained I’d like to pass on. People and things that have helped me shape a new life here, suggestions, if you will, of how to reshape yours, if ever you have the desire to do so.
Find your teacher. I found mine when her book, Naked, Drunk, and Writing fell off an East Coast bookshelf into my hands. When columnist-author Adair Lara accepted me into one of her superb writing workshops here, I hit the ground running straight toward my professed goal: to become a real writer. Adair teaches intimate groups of aspirants at her gorgeous yellow house on Scott Street, and if you want your life to look more like a writer’s, I’d suggest you contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open your heart to like-minded new friends. Carol Cassara, a wonderful blogger-essayist, whom I met at Adair’s, introduced me to other creative women, who are part of The Monday Night Group, where playwrights and actors gather to read aloud scenes from new plays. San Francisco playwright Lee Brady, a founder, invited me to join and right away, it felt like home. Started in the mid-’80s, such San Francisco stalwarts as Brady, Jeff Carter, Lynn Snyder, and Linda Ayres Frederick are a few of the group’s artists, and they’ve been welcoming. If you’re interested, explore this group at www.mondaynightgroup.net.
Go inward. I’ve become part of a meditation group meeting weekly, and if you’re interested in contemplative hours, spiced with interesting conversation, feel free to contact me: email@example.com.
Discover a passionate project. Many possibilities have crossed my path these last three years, but there’s one I’m finally interested in: the new 3Girls Theatre Company. This won’t be a career, but I am interested to volunteer, and that’s new territory for me, indeed. I admire what Suze Allen (associate artistic director), AJ Baker (producing artistic director) and — here she is again — Lee Brady (playwright) are doing: putting “women’s work onstage … where it belongs” to create theatre experiences that let the voices of women and girls be heard, loud and clear.” How could I not be interested in that? So, if you are too, join 3Girls Theatre Club, attend their exclusive readings of new female playwrights’ works, enjoy their play festivals, and see what this unique group is doing for creative youth as well. Go to 3girlstheatre.org.
So, those are a few of the things that have not only kept me afloat, as I’ve established my life here, they’ve gone a long way toward getting me into these new waters at all. This is my advice to you as you consider that where you’ve been for many years may not be where you want to continue to be. Explore the fresh, dare the unknowable. Cross a continent. Rebirth yourself.
Then write, and tell me how you’re doing!