Tonight: camp along the coast.
Tomorrow: arrive in Portland.
For days out of Los Angeles. Here’s an intentionally cryptic summary of what’s happened:
Left. Storage. Albertsons. In-N-Out. Drive. Paragon. PCH. Tired. Night. Tired. 101. Mixtape. Arrived. Wine. Walk. Sleep. Coffee. Whole Earth Catalog. Water. Frittata. Carmel. Scenic. Point Lobos. Seal. Onward. Sunlight. Highway 1 Brewing Company. 49ers. Tango Tree. Park. 1924. PTW. Hello. Workshop. Frustration. Expectations. Stuck. Nap. Defeat. Stout. Kings. Bar. Sick. Confession. Hungover. Late. Peace. Quiet. Centered. Productive. Melt. Art. Locked. Unlocked. Doggie. Zen. Pause. Play. Humanitone. Handholding. Music. Connection. Nightcap.
Three months ago, on my 28th birthday, I moved out of my apartment in Los Angeles and became a Digital Nomad.
Since then I’ve camped in the mountains north of San Diego for a Burning Man event, lived in a tent in the backyard of my friends’ house in Echo Park, and slept on a boat docked on Treasure Island. I visited my parents in Houston and my family in Covington, Louisiana.
I’ve worked at six different coworking locations, three in LA and three in SF. In those spaces I’ve been working on an awesome multiplayer game project, made progress on Bushido Brewery‘s business plan, and started business planning for a new coffee bar concept. I began building an iOS app, which is nearly ready for first release.
I’ve reconnected with old friends and made many new ones. I learned that I’m pretty good at ice skating. I rebooted my tango life in San Diego with four days of dancing. I debuted Bushido Brewery’s Japanese Pale Ale, completed jury service, and went snowboarding for the first time in six years.
I’ve been authentic and vulnerable. I’ve improvised and been surprised. I’ve felt uncertain, confronted insecurity, and serendipitous things have happened. And although I’ve become a nomad, for the most part I’ve remained in Los Angeles, making only brief excursions.
Today, I change that. I depart LA for a period of nomadic living, duration: indeterminate.
At least, that’s what I heard yesterday afternoon at 3:15 PM when the jurors in the assembly room at Criminal Justice Center in LA were dismissed early.
The unknown duration of my jury service was the last remaining condition I needed to clear before confirming the start (and subsequent plans) of my long-term nomadic journey. In the preceding week my to-do list filled up with dozens of tasks that couldn’t be finished until the duration my service was known. It was a curtain beyond which I had no visibility.
I walked out of the building in the early afternoon with the realization that my days in LA were truly numbered. My plans began to cascade into place. Everything lined up.
“Better soak it in and be totally present, engaged, and intentional.”
“These moments and sights won’t last.”
“This is really happening.”
(The gem here is that this is what every day is like, whether you are a nomad or not.)
I started dancing tango six years ago, when I was 21 years old. I discovered the dance in Seattle, just a month before I was planning to move to the East Coast. Jumping right in, my first experience with tango was at a milonga. Following that, I took a few weeks of classes, attended Seattle TangoMagic, and then moved to Baltimore.
My first year of tango in Baltimore was intense. I attended multiple classes, practicas, and milongas a week. Most of my life outside of work was tango. I wanted to be a skilled dancer, so I worked hard at the dance. After a year living in Baltimore I took my tango to LA.
After the move to LA my dancing became inconsistent. I went through phases of regular practice and social dancing, and I also experienced long tango “dry spells” where I didn’t dance for months at a time.
I would think about tango and ask myself if I wanted to dance, and why. Sometimes I felt like I should dance, and other times I was looking for friendship or a good conversation. (Over time I learned that milongas weren’t the way to satisfy those needs.) For years I felt like tango didn’t have a place in my life.
Eventually I realized that the question “why have I been dancing tango all these years?” had an answer that I didn’t like: my work to become a skilled dancer was driven by an ambition to be desired, to be respected, and to hold a high status among the “cool dancers” in the tango community. I wanted to be popular. I didn’t want to continue to dance tango as long as this was my motivation, so I stayed away from it.
Last week I attended the San Diego Tango Festival for the first time. I saw the festival as an opportunity to reboot my dancing. In the last year I did a ton of personal development, so I was returning to tango with more maturity, perspective, self-worth, and an awareness of my authentic self.
I’m thrilled to say that I have a new reason for dancing tango:
I feel emotion in the music. Therefore, I dance tango to give those feelings physical form and express them through my connection with my partner and by moving together with the music.
Thank you, friends and SDTF, for helping me to feel the music again.
See you on the dance floor.
There are many charming things about my birth state of Louisiana, and some, especially the music and the food, are well-known even to those who aren’t from around there. One of the lesser-known (and certainly less prolific) traditions of Louisiana culture is the drive-through daiquiri stand.
The concept is simple: these businesses serve you frozen daiquiris in your car from a drive-through window, just like how a Starbucks will serve you coffee. And like Starbucks, there are lots of these daiquiri places.
As far as I can tell, the open container law in Louisiana is… Fuzzy. The daiquiris are served in Styrofoam cups with plastic lids. Some places hand you the straw separately. Some places put a piece of tape over the lid, preventing the straw from penetrating the beverage. All of these scenarios appear to constitute a “closed container.”
This super-unique tradition really tickles me. I moved away from the south 11 years ago and forgot about the daiquiri stands. However, my 2013 Christmas visit surfaced fond childhood memories of visiting Mimi (my Mom’s mom) in New Orleans and riding in the car when she stopped to order a White Russian (her favorite) on our way back home.
Now old enough to enjoy the tradition myself, I enthusiastically cheered the family into the drive-through for an after dinner treat. Here we are, three generations (Mimi, Mom, and me) excited to enjoy our daiquiris… When we get home, of course.