WHY ALBUQUERQUE?

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Over the past five years, I’ve developed deep respect for my wanderlust. I know it’s more than just an itch scratched by an airport Bloody Mary, IKEA-dressed Airbnb, and 10 gallery tour.

The change of environment levels my mania. The anonymity of travel reboots my sanity.

I left Buffalo, New York very little as a child, only because my mother’s poor health and restricted earnings dictated that outcome. Her yearning to see the world was palpable (heartbreaking, at times), and it greatly influenced the healing properties of the spontaneous road trip or plane ticket for me.

My roster of destinations is more remarkable domestically than internationally (there’s only 13 states I haven’t traveled or lived within) but my intercontinental explorations have been curated well. Most extraordinary, and formative, was the time I spent in Sweden, primarily in Åstorp and Helsingborg. In April 2015, as I sat at my desk in North County San Diego, California, and wrote for this blog, an overwhelming need to destroy the redundancy of life in order to foster new growth took over. I put my plan in motion in about five minutes. It was the best decision I made for myself at that time; as I wrote about previously, Sweden saved my soul, literally.

This same overwhelming need is what clocked me across the jaw the morning of Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The bleak path I was walking was losing what color remained by the hour and if I didn’t shake shit up – destroy the redundancy of life in order to foster new growth – I questioned how things would be when all was a dull gray. “Get to New Mexico” was the broken record playing in my head.

Similar to what initiated my interest in Sweden, a dear friend, who moved to Albuquerque nearly two years prior, had been encouraging me to visit. I enjoyed Santa Fe when I briefly stopped in 2009 on a cross-country road trip from Buffalo to San Diego post-close out of my mother’s affairs. My friend, who I’ll refer to as Demetria, was one to always treat me kindly; encourage my personal and professional development; and match my imitation of SNL’s Sweeney Sisters note for note. She’s an amateur interior designer and one hell of a home cook. When we’re together, we laugh ourselves into hysterics.

The idea of fleeing to Demetria’s house, and her welcoming energy, was the one thing that pulled me up off the couch where I was sleeping, gently nudged me to close out my immediate obligations in San Diego, and pack my belongings. This, along with a response to my “taking off to Albuquerque, don’t know when I’ll be back” text from KJ, my guru originally from Albuquerque, that read, “Do you need a co-pilot?”

It was once again time to honor the call of wanderlust and get the hell out of dodge. Get the fuck out of my head as well for a bit.

More to come.

#eatingatme

NOELLE.

 

 

As an only child, I’ve collected surrogate siblings throughout my life. They’re individuals with whom I not only share history, but bonds that are seemingly unbreakable no matter the hammering they receive. I love each of them unconditionally (even when conditions aren’t favorable) and for very different reasons, regardless of the similarities they may share.

But in this family I’ve created – in the entirety of my universe – I say with certainty that there’s no one like Noelle.

We met in 2003 at a time when our roads of self-discovery intersected at an apartment in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California. A mutual friend was adamant that we connect; all week long at work I heard about “Noelle” and how he knew we’d become good friends.

A pistol from the Midwest, Noey (as many of us call her) is built like a flaxen supermodel, with wit like Larry David, the mouth of a trucker, and a laugh that can be heard for several city blocks. She’s the funniest person I know, as well as one of the kindest. She’s a music trivia savant; enjoys hula hooping while roller skating; and is never without a Greek chorus of friends, family, and admirers vying for her attention.

Most importantly, Noey’s mom to Q, her six-year-old mini-me, a child who’s influenced my appreciation for tots. This is no small feat, but Q isn’t your average kid…just like her mama.

Over the years, Noey and I raised hell, some roofs, and several eyebrows. She put up with my tales of woe from the end of my marriage to relationship meltdowns; I grew to appreciate her obsession with Phish and love for playing pranks. Even though there were several years when we barely spoke, I’d always refer to her as “My best friend, Noelle”.

Although life took us in varying directions, Noey and I maintained a close friendship, never skipping a beat when we’d reunite for drinks and dishing. In July 2018, at Noey’s insistence, I moved in with her and Q for “however long I needed”. I was in transition at the time (entertaining a move out of California) and was seeking a consistent place to land while I sorted through my shit. “However long I needed” turned into a year of some of the most fun I’ve had in the past two decades; it also allowed me to witness, and experience for myself, the despair that life can conjure.

On Wednesday, July 17, 2019, Noey celebrated her birthday in the hospital, and I hit the road for Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her bedside was my last stop before leaving town, and as we said our teary goodbyes, we knew we each had a tough road ahead of us. Eventually, we’d be stronger individuals. But damn straight, we’d always be besties.

(Take my word for it: watching your best friend almost die in front of you, inexplicably, is hell.)

More to come.

#eatingatme

IF-THEN. EQUATIONS. QUESTIONS.

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I pride myself on my unabashed nature. Bold action that’s personality driven. Use of out-there tactics. It puts a smirk on my face; it stirs the particles of my universe efficaciously.

A side effect of my way of being is a visceral impatience for stagnancy and vanilla days. I’d never make it in a small town (a road tested and proven #fact by my year plus in Jacksonville, North Carolina). My equation doesn’t compute 2.5 kids + white picket fence + social convention = hallelujah. If the music isn’t giving me heartburn, it’s not gritty enough. If my drink isn’t strong enough, just give me the damn bottle.

If I know all of this about myself, after 44 years of slithering across the planet to shed my skin of doubt and use the brain my parents’ DNA gave me, then why Wednesday, July 17, 2019? Why did I, Rebecca Emily Michael Gaffney, allow my life to become a social experiment that was quickly losing its funding?

Because if I hadn’t, then I wouldn’t know what’s been eating at me for a lifetime.

When raised Catholic, there’s a Shroud of Turin in which we’re wrapped by default. In my experience, it traps the heat of needless guilt and fabricated reasoning. “I don’t want to impose” was a phrase I heard, and mimicked, repeatedly. There were always apologies thrown my way but few course corrections made. Being “close and honest” was often a line of bullshit.

Even though I attended a college where intellectual inquiry dictated the day – we were instructed to question everything – I barely asked the pressing questions of myself, my upbringing, and the things that just didn’t add up.

I continued to make the same mistakes, with slight modifications as a result of experience and maturity, for over four decades until, on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, I woke up, couldn’t breathe, and simply knew that if I didn’t get up and go, my social experiment would shut its doors for good.

It was time to look what’s been eating at me straight in the eye and invite it to fuck itself, unabashedly, boldly, with a sly smirk on my face.

More to come.

#eatingatme

A Great Gift

There’s little I find more mundane than creating my own bio. I welcome writing them for others but when asked to submit mine for a project, I whine.

Unfortunately, it was time to tackle this bitch for eatingatme.

Taking a lesson from my development this year in reaching out for help, I texted my lifelong friend and fellow author, Alycia Ripley. Why make the badly needed refresh of my About page painful? That seemed counterproductive.

Me: “Hey mama! Would you write my bio for me? You’re the only one I trust to do it and I can’t come up with something authentic right now.”

Alycia: “Hi girl, of course.”

Alycia’s a professional. And accomplished. And cool as shit.

We’ve been friends a long time. Our mothers went to Catholic high school together, where, in turn, they enrolled Alycia and me for elementary and middle school. We went to the same all girls’ college prep academy as well. Alycia and I share much in common – we have impeccable taste in music, for example – but our strongest likeness comes from our fierce love for our mothers and family.

(Do yourself a favor and purchase Alycia’s memoir, Wind over Tide. It’s stunning.)

I’m honored that Alycia took time and care to write such a lovely piece for eatingatme. I’m humbled by her kindness; I’m over the moon about her contribution to something that was initiated by a promise I made to my mother. You can read it here.

Thank you, my red-haired rock star. You mean the world to me.

Thanks, Keith…

I don’t have details as of yet, but I’m left to assume you committed suicide.

Well, that’s shit for timing. We had tickets to see Beats Antique tonight at The Music Box, and I was SO EXCITED (but I wasn’t going to let you know that because I’m still upset with you for breaking my heart a month ago).

From wherever you are, I’m sure you’ve seen…

The love.

The sadness.

The support.

The longing.

I’m clear I’m one of many who you’ve loved in your lifetime. But before you fully exit (how was that Alice In Chains, homeboy?), I’d like to thank you for…

-Too Many Zooz;

-Clarity around that if I’m ever to be a mother, my son better be a gay accountant who is compulsive, loves his mother fiercely, and is married to a male professional dancer;

-The nickname “Sparkle Tits;”

-Hope.

I’m drunk, but right now I’m so in love with you.

Find that peace and zen,

Becca