Rootless; or, Fuck Borders; or, A Year+ of Contemplation

If you squint, it might be argued that I’m actually in a state of homelessness at present.

I tried moving out earlier this year, to stay a while in Oregon with some family who said that I was welcome to be there, but who weren’t really all that hospitable in practice. Or, to give them the benefit of the doubt, weren’t hospitable in the appropriate way for someone who was planning to stay for more than a couple of weeks. So I drifted up to Vancouver instead, and just sort of wound up being there with my husband.

Now, to put it plainly, the reason I’m not there is because I’m not Canadian. I’m actually stuck in immigration hell right now – it’s illegal for me to try and live with him while jumping through immigration hoops, even if I follow the “rules” of visitation (which, depending on how much money you have, can easily get thrown out the window at the border if la migra so much as don’t like the shirt you’re wearing) while there.

But I don’t want to go back to Los Angeles. I’m here for the month, and I can tell already that I just don’t have the emotional wherewithal to move back in with family. And I definitely don’t have the wherewithal to do it here, in aimless exurbia, so devoid of life and context and time.

So I have a home, I’m just not allowed to be there.

What I’m going to have to do, then, is find a place to live. Problem #1 is that I’m barely fit for traditional work – I depress and depersonalize so easily that I’d honestly be afraid of working more than 15 hours a week at any “traditional” job. For the next 10-12 months I’m contracted to draw a comic at a pretty decent pagerate, but it’s not quite enough to live on. Problem #2 is that I don’t want to have to buy anything for where I’m going to be. Not a car, not furniture… I don’t even want to bother with getting internet installed. For eating, I will own two bowls, two pairs of chopsticks, one cup, one pot, and one skillet, just to give you an idea of how serious I am. Problem #3 is that I want to be close to my husband, so that I can still visit him on weekends or something. If I’m not going to be near blood family, then I damn well better be near him. Combined with problem #2, that means I only have one real option: Seattle.

I really only know two people in Seattle, and one of them is my Japanese publisher. So for the most part, I will be very alone.

And this is daunting, because I’ve never really been alone like that before. I’ve always been in a place where I’ve had family within visiting distance, or access to friends almost 24 hours a day (as was the case in college). And either way, I’ve never lived alone, either. I could just never afford it.

Religiously, I’ve been kind of an awkward mess for the past year or two. If I wasn’t caught up in a cycle of depressive procrastination, I was living with my very not-religious-but-vaguely-spiritual agnostic husband, and we struggled pretty mightily on just learning to live under the same roof together, let alone learn how to carve out my own physical and mental space for worship. (For perspective: he’s been living alone for about 10 years, I’ve only really ever lived with roommates who I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get what I need from the living situation, and we’ll be celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary later this month. So it’s a Big Deal for us to figure out how to do this. Not that it all exactly matters like we thought it would – it’ll be another year or two before I can officially move in with him anyways.)

It was also difficult to get used to the fact that, even though he doesn’t share my beliefs – yet, but more on that later – I’m really free to practice my religion out in the open. That, technically, it’s my home too, and I don’t need stealth shrines, I don’t need to pray or make offerings when no one’s looking. Maintaining a stealthy practice has been the one thing that all of my adventures in pagandom since the age of 12 have in common. That’s 15 years of imposed restrictions that I’m trying to unlearn here; all the while figuring how to keep our very awkward kitchen clean and a settling on a weekday evening schedule that doesn’t involve watching Netflix for 2 hours because that’s the easy thing to do.

When I was harassed at the border last time I traveled north and it occurred to me that being up there for several months at a time up until I got my PR status (even though perfectly legal if you ask anyone but a border pig) wasn’t sustainable and that it was just a matter of time before I was turned away because it was deemed that I didn’t have enough money in my bank account (which they can make you show them) or whatever bullshit reason they have the authority to make up, and that something had to give, we panicked, as anyone faced with inevitable, sudden, and drastic change will do.

I was being uprooted again. Blown around like a ship in a storm. With little money, and dreading to go back to what seemed like square one – California – I decided that I was going to Seattle.

But the more we thought about it, the more we realized that it was going to be good for us, and especially for me. It was going to be a buffer so that we could learn to live with each other a little more slowly, and so that I enjoy my solitude (as I do). But also, I think, it’ll be good for me spiritually too. I’ll have the space to start poking around through the Eddas and figure out what I want from NTP or Heathenism or whatever. (Hint: I think it’s something I want my husband and I to do as a household, and he’s interested. Especially seeing as how we both kind of want to stop observing Christmas at some point in the future; I think holidays are a good jumping off point for us to introduce a new spiritually-minded lifestyle.) I also want to get back in touch with my old Gods – who I now refer to here only with epithets, though some of you may remember who they are – and see what They might have in store for me during my time in Seattle and beyond.

As I wrote on the old blog, I was interested in picking up Heathenry or a Heathen-inspired practice because of what it had to offer me on a day-to-day basis. Because of who my Gods are, my relationship to them only has so much influence over my life, and attempts at extrapolating a lifestyle, calendar, and ritual framework usually fall flat. The Twins engage me personally through my work; I honor Santa Muerte as a patron of Otherness and desperation; the god I’ve started recently calling Old Man Thunder is a font of deep, dark wisdom, and I have a purely devotional/monastic relationship with Him; and La Abuela is someone (or someones) I someone I want to get to know more through my engagement with filth and death and mourning. But this is all highly idiosyncratic personal cultus – it doesn’t scale whatsoever, and my goals and obligations to Them have nothing to do with the household as a social unit.

At any rate… that went on long enough.

Black Seed #4 is out though, apparently. I’m going to buy it, but I can only buy directly from them in bulk.

It’s making me think about starting up a pagan/polytheist/witchy zine distro…

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6 thoughts on “Rootless; or, Fuck Borders; or, A Year+ of Contemplation

  1. I don’t know if Portland is on your radar at all – it doesn’t sound like it – but I thought I’d just put it out there that I may be looking for a roommate at the Hermitage soon. Great location in downtown Portland (walking distance to everything), furnished, WiFi, etc. And affordable, which is very hard to come by in Portland right now! Downside: not much space, and some creativity would be needed to preserve privacy. Contact me via e-mail if you’d like to talk more about it.

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  2. I can offer yet a third route to housing (at least for a bit), if you’re interested, though it is further south than even Portland:

    I live at a Radical Fairy Sanctuary in rural southern Oregon — 88 acres with maybe a half dozen people on it currently. You are welcome to come and stay here for a bit — policy (what a funny word in Fairy space) says that you can stay up to a week; in practice, consensus has relationships not rules and as long as you can navigate the scenario you can prolly stay here for longer. We do ask $5-10 a day, but the important part is NOTAFLOF GAYAABAGS (No One Turned Away for Lack of Funds, Give As You Are Able But Always Give Something). shrug it might give you a moment to come to stillness or rest before delving into a PDX or Seattle scenario.

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    1. Oh wow, while that won’t provide me with any long-term solution of course, it does sound like a rad-ass place to visit! How difficult is it to get to if I don’t have a car?

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      1. There’s an airport not too far away, but more useful perhaps might be Greyhound, which will take you to the nearest town (Grants Pass), for about$150. I usually just use a rideshare (I tend to use QUEER North America Rideshare on Facebook, cuz I don’t wanna deal with straight cisgender people on the way here, but Craigslist has worked for my friends). There’s usually folk coming this way or past us -were we’re just off the 5 – so it’s not that hard to get here that way.

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