A Flower in a Whiskey Glass

“I forget that you’re still a girl sometimes”

That is def not the first nor will it be the last time I’ll hear that. I’ve never been one to wear makeup, sit around to talk about boys or dream of my future wedding. Don’t get me wrong, you will find me in a sundress, baking, and singing Taylor Swift on long drives, but it’s been abundantly obvious that I’ve had different priorities all my life.

My parents dubbed me a flower child at a young age, always drawn to feel the dirt between my toes, catching every bug or small critter I could get my hands on, and wanting to explore anything and everything. It’s no wonder I landed myself in the outdoor community as a young adult.

I like to say “I’m lucky for the life I get to live”, but it’s always been apart of the plan. I choose to pursue the jobs and lifestyles that light my soul on fire. Most people in the outdoor community do not come from a childhood like mine and that is where I am lucky. I grew up camping, running around boat docks, fishing with my dad, skiing when we could, and eating the strawberries my mom grew in the backyard while we were playing.

This is all I’ve known and as an adult have been making the conscious decision to continue that way of life. Through my stories that ya’ll have read, I have been fully engulfed by places, jobs, and people who also make these conscious decisions every day when we wake up. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure to learn what other lifestyles look like.

In my last post I was homeless, unemployed, and roaming the country’s interstates with $150 to my name. A lot has changed since then (thank god!). With the amazing support from friends, the Alaska Unemployment office, and of course my dirty Carhartt overalls I was able to get on my feet financially, land a job, and a place to live. The wind blew me back to California where I unpacked my bags in Monterey. With it being my only option and still working jobs in the outdoor community, I didn’t think to question that my lifestyle would change.

Until my first week moved in, where I was gently reminded that not everyone has lived out of a car. I was so grateful to find a room for rent on Facebook with a lovely older woman, that my only thought was “I haven’t had my OWN room in 18 months!”. Let’s just say the whole rule of taking your shoes off when you get inside only works if you were wearing shoes in the first place.

The day I moved in, there were a lot of questions.

“What’s that?!”
“A rope for climbing”
“Climbing what?!”
“….rocks”

“Why are you bringing all those skis and snowboards inside?”
“because If I left them outside they would rust or delaminate”

I’ve spent about 90% of my time here feeling very misplaced and self-conscious. All three of my roommates share a similar lifestyle and diet (spoiler alert, it does not include whiskey or mac and cheese). It sounds very silly, but it never occurred to me that the way I live could seem so alien and quite frankly backwards to other people. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been very aware that my priorities have been different from the majority, I just didn’t realize it could be that so jarring.

I find comfort in the little things I can do, like going for walks barefoot, finding a field nearby away from the rows of pristine suburban houses, and decorating my room with crystals and dried herbs. I also get breaths of fresh air from conversations with my mom where she reminds me that it’s okay if Jack Daniels is your closet friend at the moment.

This last month and coming months will continue to be a wonderful lesson in remembering who I am, where I came from, and what horizons I choose to let my eyes land on.

I am not the flower child my parents dubbed me, rather the flower that chooses to grow in the cracks of the cement.

-Shelby Lynn

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