Two months ago today I arrived to this Carolina state. Head and heart full of dreams and expectations and wonder. It was adorable.

Within a few days, I secured a place to live, reconnected with boyfriend after looooong months apart, and began the settling in.

Which…is still happening.

Transitions are hard (well-documented here). I’ve gone from elated to terrified to depressed to a zombie-like numbness to almost happy and back again. If I were to draw a graph of my emotions from the last two months, it might look like this:

doodle1

Yeah. That’s right. A doodle. I’m an emotional doodle.

I’m having a hard time. Like, no friends, picking on my roommate’s cats just to have something to do, eating a pound of M&Ms in two days by myself kind of hard.

And if we were to keep score (and only super competitive morons like myself do) I believe it would be something like:

JOBS: 43             RACHEL: 0

No, really. I’ve applied to 43 jobs in two months. So far I’ve managed to nail down an unpaid internship, which is illegal, turns out, so I’m just calling it a “different kind of nonprofit….as in….. the business hasn’t made any money yet.” And I might be subbing for a charter school. And I might be serving for a restaurant that’s scheduled to open within five weeks. But the fellowship in Ireland I’d been hanging all my stars on has officially rejected me. So. That feels good.

BUT. We’re gonna work on it. “It” being this drowning fog I find myself trying to swim through each day.

And maybe you’re there, too. Maybe you’re miserable, too. Or at least, you have been.

Everyone always has great advice about your journey through misery. But I won’t tell you how to feel unmiserable. I know all I’ve really wanted in these past few weeks is like a thousand hugs, wine-flavored frozen yogurt dripping directly into my mouth, and “I’m so sorry…I love you,” all the time. I need your love, and your listening, but maybe (probably) I’ve thought of whatever idea you’re gonna throw at me already. I’ve been sitting here for two months thinking of it. I surpassed all brilliant ideas like 50 days ago.

Something that’s helping a little is to write down a happiness that happens each day.

Sometimes I really, really REALLY gotta reach for it. Like “woke up before alarm. Got to sleep an “extra” hour.”

Or “passed level 86 in Candy Crush like a boss.” Or “got carded buying boxed wine at Target.”

But it’s my anniversary of living here today! I love anniversaries. So I’m going to go all out and post a list and some videos about living in Durham and the things that I have learned/enjoyed. Because sometimes you gotta fake it til you make it.

So here’s my Top 10 List of Things I’ve Loved About Durham

1. People are waaaaaaay nice. I’m not kidding. I have learned to wave and smile at everyone. The checkers at my Food Lion call me “baby” and “child” and I love it.

SONY DSC2. My camping trip was amazing. I have truly never seen anything like those Blue Ridge Mountains.

3. Crossfit. It has been a really good thing to challenge myself and to feel powerful and strong for at least 45 minutes a day, even if the rest of my life feels weak and pathetic. 

4. Durham’s really cute. Built on top of tobacco factories and manufacturing, it’s all brick buildings and a hodge-podge of a downtown. There is a lot of potential and so many cool, locally-owned places to go.

5. I haven’t watched television in two months. We don’t have it here. Leaves way more time for the internet. :)

6. I’ve learned how to clean with vinegar. I’m obsessed.

7. I made a lasagna from scratch, which was on my bucket list. boo-yah.

1385855_10102729270970927_1213495217_n8. I’ve been able to travel to New York to see my bestie and to Georgia to see my brothers waaaaay easier than when I was coming from the West Coast.

9. I was inspired to write what has been my most popular (for good and bad) post on my gig at HuffPo.

And, finally:

10. I have been alone. This has been the worst part, but this has also been the best part.

I have been challenged, I have cried more than I thought possible. I have ached for company so much it felt like my bones might break. I have gone full days without speaking a word out loud or leaving my bedroom. I have wept, written, read, played guitar. I have constructed imaginary worlds based on the tiniest premises of recognition.

I have missed things I took for granted. Clawed at my blankets in the middle of the night, throwing them off the bed and crying out to God until my own screams and tears wake me, shouting for someone to save me. I have faced demons I could name, and tried to walk away or eat away or cry away those I am not ready to confront yet.

I have been overly dramatic, I have been incredibly passive.

I’ve learned depression is real.

In all of it, I’ve learned a lot about myself. It doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing here, why I am here, or what I’m doing next. But I’ve learned how to reach out, and when to reach out. I’ve seen true friends reach back. And the value in sleep. The joy in eating healthy. The beauty in buying yourself flowers. I’ve made myself talk on the phone and cry in front of my parents.

And so now…now I try to not cut bangs with kitchen scissors. Now I look forward to teaching at a charter school full of children who need the hugs I want to give them. Now I giggle and grunt and gasp for breath through each Crossfit class. I walk and I walk and I walk miles around my neighborhood and I talk myself into happiness.

I booked a hotel room for the beach for tomorrow night. I’ve always felt answers in the insignificance of an ocean at your feet.

Until then.

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