location independent limbo

Toronto welcomed me back with warm hugs, a sweet solo sublet, and a polished new surface. Being back in Toronto is like seeing an ex years later and they’ve had a makeover and look better than you ever remembered, and guess what, they’re sweet and steady and still like you too. London is like the more recent, exciting, high-maintenance ex who looked so sophisticated on your arm and made all your friends jealous of you while emptying your wallet and playing football with your heart.

Perhaps it’s obvious that I’ve been reading Great Expectations.

When you’re going through a transition is everyone wants to know what your plans are. I’m not great at planning so I was reluctant to announce them, but initially my intention was to apply for a French visa so I could spend 2013 in Paris. This plan was not conceived with any real idea of how I would accomplish it. As I took the first steps to assemble the paperwork required it became clear that the combination of two national bureaucracies was creating tangled logjam of arbitrary requirements that would take almost a year to sort out.

This discovery was somewhat discouraging, and yet overall I felt nonplussed. I’ve noticed something in myself as I get older, that I don’t understand how I really feel about anything while it’s happening. Realizations that explain my own behaviour tend to unfold in my consciousness a few weeks later at the earliest. This also reveals why I can’t write about topical things in a timely manner.

So I’ve been slow to sum up this change in my life. I’m still not sure yet how I feel about where I am, and where I want to be. I’m in the rather wonderful position of having created a ‘location independent’ career. I have zero familial, social, financial, or professional obligations to be at any particular place at any particular time. I am reluctant to squander this unprecedented level of freedom that has been granted to me by circumstance and technology.

I do still want to go back to Paris, whether for an extended vacation or for a bit longer if possible. I also want to spend more time in New York. I don’t have the intention to settle in either of these places, but I feel that the experience of London was an expansive one, and a necessary part of my continuing education. Spending a longer period of time in a fashion capital genuinely changes the way that you think about the subject. Being in a international, culturally dominant city makes you up your game as a creator and a careerist. I feel that I escaped a certain provincial ignorance and developed greater humility by abandoning my local identity. My work is more sophisticated and confident now than ever, and now I have a much more realistic sense of what level I am at relative to my contemporaries, my craft, and the total arc of my life and career.

Continuing to pursue the unknown, to throw myself into the milieu of fashion capitals will always be a necessary part of defining my career. I will do this; I just need to figure out logistically, how.

Another upside of being location independent is that there is no need to sacrifice all the comforts of life to location either, especially as I enter my thirties. Fashion capitals are exciting, and also expensive, snobby, exhausting places to live. I don’t want to live life trapped in a platinum champagne bucket full of pretty perfect popular people. All I need is a modest yet gracious space to work and sleep, and a variegated social life full of many types of friendly people who don’t take fashion too seriously. All of these things can be found in places much less competitive and demanding than London, Paris or New York.

The downside, if it could be called that, of location independence is the overwhelming array of options available. Having so many choices open to me doesn’t make figuring out what I want to do any easier. I’m following my own advice now – embracing the void, and letting the answer reveal itself in the absence of anything else. How profound, to be in the powerful position of designing my physical life to accommodate a career that has become utterly intangible.

8 thoughts on “location independent limbo”

  1. That’s a great description of London. I spent a couple of years there recently (2007-2009), and that’s just what it was like! I may borrow your words the next time someone asks me about it.

  2. i quite enjoyed reading this. i think it’s valuable in any creative process (and, of course, life) to turn the motor off, as you say, and just let things relax. i think of it as processing time — you’ve just had an incredibly stimulating time, and there is something to be said about letting it settle, absorb, etc. at least that is how i find the cycles of my life playing out…xo k.

  3. Danielle, I met you at Gary’s party last night and found my way over here, hope you don’t mind! Just wanted to compliment you on some very fine writing and also to admire your ability to look clear-eyed at where you are and what you want. Turning 30 was a great experience for me at the time: I finally felt like I knew who I was, and could stop trying to win other people’s approval and just move ahead with what I wanted to do. I hope this year is as tranformational and empowering as that for you!

  4. Whatever you decide to to after this I’m sure you’ll succeed. You seem to be driven to do what you want to do, no matter what. I’ve been following your blog for quite a while, and your work has jumped up to yet another level. Being in a new city, out of your element must hav e changed something inside you, because while you’re still the same person, there is a huge amount of growth with a new level of confidence in your writing and illustrations. You’ve inspired me to work even harder this year than I did last, and try to find some direction in my career. I don’t have the ability to put my thoughts down on a page as eloquently as you can, so I’ll simply say, “Keep it up.” Stay hungry and unsatisfied because this is what pushed you forward. I’m sure FF has inspired more people than just me.

Comments are closed.