One year ago this week, I got an email from Sundance following up on a job I’d applied for. One of the dozen or so I’d applied for with them over the years, to be honest. I still don’t know what it was about me and my resume that convinced my soon-to-be manager to reach out to me, but I’ll be forever grateful.
Because, whether she realizes it or not, The Email From Sundance (for it is of fabled proportions these days) set in motion a series of events that, though the getting through them wasn’t always easy, the end result has been more than worth it. And it may not even be the end, but just the beginning of what’s next.
A lot of things fell into place the same week I got that email, things that I wouldn’t typically share with the entire internet (or at least, that sliver of it that’s reading this). But I’m feeling nostalgic for this time last year when I still had no idea what was in store and yet, it’s now clear to me, the universe totally did.
There’s a scene in my much-beloved Eat, Pray, Love where Gilbert is struggling through a divorce and her almost-ex is refusing to sign the paperwork sealing the deal. She’s venting to her friend while on a car trip, lamenting that she can’t get this one thing that she knows she needs to finally set her free. Her friend does something amazing in that moment: she tells Gilbert to ask for it. She tells her that she is as deserving as anyone else to have a say in this world she inhabits, that she is allowed to ask for things, to want things, to request things of the universe. So she does. Right there in that car, she articulates out loud exactly what she wants. And then she takes a nap. As Gilbert tells it, she wakes up to a ringing cell phone – her lawyer calling to say the papers were signed; she is officially divorced. While it’s possible this sequence of events is conveniently condensed for dramatic effect, the moral of the story was not lost on me.
Ask. You have a right to.
So this time last year, as I struggled to sort out what I truly wanted next in my life – professionally and personally – I recalled this scene and decided to ask. I sat at my computer one weekend and asked myself, “If I were doing exactly what I wanted to be at this moment, what would it be?” The answer then, in this moment that I was completely, unabashedly honest with myself, was that I would be working full time in a top-tier festival. I took that gut instinct and wrote myself a prayer of sorts. I put it by my bedside and I read it (yes, aloud) every night. I put what I wanted out into the universe. I asked for it.
I got The Email From Sundance midday on a Friday. That morning, I’d met with an executive board member at the Indy Film Fest to let him know I’d be wrapping up my time with the organization by the end of 2012. I didn’t know at the time what I’d be doing next, but I knew it was time to finally let go, to let the talented, dedicated group of people who’d stepped up take the torch they were so passionate about and run with it.
And in some amazing, other-worldly chain of events, in letting go I had made space for what came next. It was as if in stepping away from the shores of one beach, waves lapping quietly at my bare toes in the sand, I turned around to find a vast, open ocean beckoning me to it, a boat waiting there to sail me away. All I had to do was turn and see it. (Too much? Sorry. I’m on cold medication.)
What followed was a whirlwind of planning and packing and more than a few really difficult See Ya Laters (not goodbyes). Less than a month from getting The Email From Sundance, my entire life was packed in storage or in my car and I was on my way to Utah. And yes, the song I listened to as I pulled out of my driveway in Indy was Wide Open Spaces. Because of course.
As I look back on the series of events immediately following The Email From Sundance (my place going up for rent, scraping together a place to live in Utah, a bittersweet and amazing birthday/going away party), what I remember more than anything is the love. I’ve been known to be a fairly independent person (surprise!), and yet when I started sharing my news, not a single person was anything but elated for me and overwhelmingly supportive. When I questioned my own sanity in packing up and moving for a job that only lasted 5 months, every single person gut-checked me with “You have to go.” Or some variation therein.
To everyone who helped pack a box or buy some furniture; to everyone who came to my going away party or liked my in-transition status updates; to everyone who cheered me on near or far – thank you.
A year later, I have much to reflect on. Never one to pass up a good opportunity to over think things, I’ll happily revisit this time in my life for anyone who cares to listen. Tonight, that’s you. Chances are, you’re part of the story, too.