Next in a series about the changes people often face in their late twenties.
A few years ago when I decided to move into my friend Trish’s Brooklyn apartment, our mutual friend Celeste said, “I love it! I just imagined walking through the front door and seeing a big bowl filled with pieces of paper with icebreakers written on them.” It’s true that Trish is known far and wide for her exceptional facilitation skills (and that anything I know about group dynamics and trainings and retreats I learned from her) – and, sure enough, my time living with her was full of warm conversation with anyone who crossed the threshold. But she is also known for (1) turning her job interview at Idealist into a lecture on the Jackson Five; (2) becoming the first-ever National Director of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network; (3) beating a bunch of Brooklyn foodie hipsters in a crostini cooking competition with our friend Kim; and (4) keeping all of the plants in our apartment alive when my inattention really should have killed them. And a whole lot of other things. I could go on, but you’d probably rather hear about when she was 28.
JS: Do you have any advice for someone going through this (supposedly) astrologically tumultuous time?
TT: Write. Or photograph. Or videograph. Whatever the medium, document what’s happening. Actually I would say this for any point in life. I have this 10 year journal where each day of the year has a slot for you to record highlights from that day each year for 10 years. So you can see on April 10, 2012 what you were doing and thinking and feeling on April 10, 2011, 2010, 2009, etc. For me there’s nothing more instructive than having your 29 year old self shake your head at the reflections of your 28 year old self who thought whatever was happening at the time was the hardest thing ever and nothing would ever be right again. I don’t mean that to be dismissive or to say that you shouldn’t take what you’re feeling at the moment seriously. For me, though, being able to see the past clearly helps me to both acknowledge what’s happening now and believe even as I’m feeling it that this, too, shall pass.
Also, reading that stuff is pure entertainment. I’m hilarious when I’m scared – not laugh-with hilarious, laugh-at hilarious. So that’s an extra incentive for me to record what’s going on during tumultuous times. Apparently inner turmoil makes me think that I’m a Def Poet or something like that. It’s not cute.
J: Do you feel close to those memories or far from them?
T: The feelings behind the memories are stronger than a lot of the details. Like I remember the feeling of being adored by my nephews but I don’t remember what we would do together. I remember feeling so lucky to have the awesome apartment/neighborhood/roommate that I had but I’m starting to forget the colors of the walls. I remember living with the assumption that I would dance every.single.weekend but I don’t remember which parties happened in which order and who was out which night.
Oddly, I don’t remember the feelings OR the details of the thing that I still think of as the key marker of that year: this ridiculous crush I had on some dude that strung me along for nine months. I’m actually sitting here typing this and for the life of me I can’t remember his last name. Which is awesome.
J: What was happening in the world that year? Do you remember newsworthy events, books you read, movies or shows or art you experienced?
T: It’s cool to look back and realize that 2005 was the awkward teenager phase of technology that’s SO accessible and SO integrated into our lives now. Two good examples – 1) Online TV: I remember my roommate and I sitting on my bed watching episodes of LOST every week. The quality was wack and the video stopped every 90 seconds to buffer but we were all, “we can watch TV whenever we want! On our computer! The future is NOW!” 2) I remember being OBSESSED with MySpace. Those were the beginnings of my (our) brain thinking that mundane shit and daily occurrences deserved to be shared. With the WORLD. I would edit and re-edit and re-edit these blog posts (remember Myspace had a blog? I know, right?) and change my home page theme song every two days. Meanwhile…
Don’t even get me started on the world events that year…I mean, recovering from the blow of Bush’s re-election…Katrina…it was craziness. I went to Wikipedia though and looked for other stuff that happened that year that I didn’t remember, and I happened upon Live 8. The concert itself was forgettable, but it made me think about all the fair trade campaigning I was doing for Oxfam that year and how I got my little sister into it as well.
Lisa had never heard of the issue but wanted to come to the Habib Koite show with me where I was tabling one night. I remember driving down to Delaware with her, going over the FAQ and helping her get her tabling rap down. Two hours earlier she knew nothing about the issue, but she learned enough in the car to get totally fired up. So by the time we got to the venue, she was FEARLESS. I thought my heart was going to explode watching her walk right up to these strangers like it was nothing, “Oh you don’t know about crop dumping? Girl, let me tell you…” Definitely one of the best memories of that year.
J: Where were you when you turned 28?
T: At a pizza place in West Philly with a crew I’m pretty sure I invited to come out about 10 minutes before it would have been time to show up. I’m always weird about pulling people together for my birthday but that one felt particularly inconsequential.
J: Does the term “Saturn returns” mean anything to you?
T: The first time I heard the term was from the mouth of this scary boss I had while I was living/working in Burlington, VT. There was a coworker of mine (the one person scary boss doted on) who was going through a rough time and I remember my boss saying, “Of course life is crazy right now, sweetie, it’s your Saturn returning.” I was standing right there but I remember rather than speak directly to my boss and ask her what “Saturn returning” meant, I kept quiet and looked it up online. I was still a few years out but I remember feeling nervous based on what I read.
Now I kind of like the concept. I like the unifying nature of it. It’s like puberty: we all go through it. I also like that it allows for us to forego blame or guilt for not having our shit together during that time (also like puberty). I think many of us feel burdened by this pervasive belief that we are in control of things going right or wrong in our lives. I loved feeling (even just a little bit) that it wasn’t me who couldn’t for the life of me decide whether or not to move to NYC in 2006, it was the universe.
The word facilitate means “to make (an action or process) easy or easier”; synonyms include relieve, ease, alleviate, simplify, and lighten. Trish has definitely helped to facilitate my life during my little Saturn face-off. So if we’re crediting the universe for stuff, thanks, universe, for steering Trish toward NYC back then and for the chance to share Brooklyn with her.
Photo: From Trish’s Myspace days.