Ten years ago I was drinking a Pimm’s cup in the dark with my mother. We were playing cards. Across the street, the overbearing neighbor with good intentions was spraying down his driveway…during a hurricane.
The hurricane. That’s how relatively textbook the whole thing was. Wind. Rain. No electricity. Standard.
Until it wasn’t.
It happened. I wasn’t paying attention, I guess. I became … an adult. It wasn’t the years adding up, the gray hairs multiplying or the occasional painful toe stiffening. But 2014 brought those sneaky mileposts and tasks that brand one into adulthood. It’s the drinking a bit less, the dedicating time to run a lot, the satisfying Friday nights at home. They’re things that give me anxiety, too—things my life choices have made even more challenging. Shipping my belongings across the sea. Buying a new car. Navigating health insurance. Getting married. Arguing with HR about Karl’s right to insurance. Hiring a lawyer to fight with immigration. Working tirelessly.
Are these accurate markers of adulthood? Or is this readjusting to life in America? I’m not entirely sure.
She found comfort in the nuances between success and failure, between a goal finished, accomplished, and a goal adjusted. —Dave Eggers, from Up the Mountain, Coming Down Slowly
I like to think I don’t fail at much. I’m skilled at confident self-delusion. But even the best laid plans can crumble. I’m sure no one, not even myself, saw this failure coming. In 30 years, I’ve never failed a class. I’ve probably only failed a test or two. I have a master’s. I have a company in another country. I’m passionate, committed, creative and pretty damn awesome. Nevertheless, yours truly didn’t pass teachnola’s summer teaching certification program. I was not recommended into the classroom for the fall. I lost my teaching job before I even worked a day. What a strange experience. Yes, it was a .11 point difference. No, I wasn’t allowed to contest.
C’est la vie. Det är som det är. Continue reading
There was something about you, 2013. You were rough and tumbly, full of ups and downs. You were about falling apart, putting yourself back together, with strategy, vision and confidence. You were about realizing love—all of its powers, dimensions and forms.
You were about this series of moments—my third trip to Barcelona, where Karl and I decided to take in Gaudi’s most famous, yet my most reluctant place to visit, the Sagrada Familia. Churches, you see, tend to make me very uneasy. I was the last one into the tower’s elevator, hence the first one who would have to step out. The elevator could only take folks so far, there’d be more steps to climb once we got out. And so, we climbed the rest of the way. To the top. 75 meters. 246 feet. About 25 stories. No big deal. I’m not afraid of heights. But one look out onto the microscopic normalcy below, one click, maybe two, of the camera’s shutter and I was done. Panic. I must get down from here. Now. Now. Now. NOW. I knew, with certainty, if I stayed up there any longer, I would die. I could see my body buried in the rubble, splintered and screaming in chaotic silence. I would be one of the faceless numbers in the paper, some unfortunate reporter cobbling together my life story from online bits and pieces. I would be gone and that would be it.
That couldn’t be it.
According to a no-frills, nothing-fancy watermarked piece of paper from the Swedish government, I’m now a Swedish citizen.
There’s no history test. There’s no ceremony. There’s no secret handshake. It simply is what it is.
Do I feel any different? Absolutely not. Am I different? Uh, yup. Live, breathe and function in any new place for about five years and you’ll be different, too. It’s hard to see in yourself, but it happens. In the slideshow below are a few of the things that make my heart happy about being here.
When you’re the littlest kid, you develop a certain skin. It’s sculpted through years of fighting with shadows, desperate with desire to be a unique individual. Legacies precede you, for better or worse, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Little Frayer. For the longest time, that’s who I was–little sister to both Margot and Megan. (Yep, we have the same middle initials, too, if you’re keeping track.)
Frayers we all are, but I got an extra helping of the built-in, ‘I CAN DO IT MYSELF, THANK YOU’ attitude born from being the youngest. Marissa Louise Frayer, goddamnit. That’s who I was and wanted to be. Continue reading
Despite my best efforts at tagging things of interest, by the far the greatest outside draw to this blog is the phrase ‘louisiana sucks.’ For all the faults listed in that prior post, I still hold to its suckage. But there’s the coin’s other side, too — that Louisiana knows nothing more intrinsically than how to love. Football, guns, food, music, booze, the Lord. Whatever or whomever, we love boundlessly, fiercely, unforgivingly.
There’s a sign at the Louisiana Welcome Center on the Interstate 10 border to Texas. Louisiana: Pick your passion. Go ahead and sell the state at its surface value, but you’re wrong. The kind of Louisiana love I speak of isn’t passion, hobby, pastime nor general interest. It’s devotion that none of us choose. Continue reading
When you’re caught in the current, you don’t notice how far you’ve traveled. At some point, you’re bound to look up. How did I get here?
There are nights, the really bad nights, when I can’t run away from that question. This happens most frequently when I’m in my tiny, soulless, white-walled room in Älmhult. The idea was to have a writing spot, a place to be detached and type it all out once a week. A refuge for creativity it is not. A year or so later and apparently I’ve only knocked out about 25 pages total. That’s when it hits, looking up at the awful fluorescent tube overhead, surrounded by the dee-doo-dee-doo of impending train announcements.
How did I get here? In one way, by listening. Here’s one thing I managed from that room earlier this year. Continue reading