50. Fifty: Looking On and Looking Back / by Allie Farris

This is now officially the longest I have ever kept up a blog or a diary. More than anything, I’m excited you seem to like what I write. I haven’t seen any negative feedback yet (but I haven’t been looking for it either). As I sit on my living room couch, once again in Lausanne after a month-long visit to the U.S., I thought it might be nice to look back at what’s happened since I started writing to you over 9 months ago.

First and most drastically, I moved away from the U.S. Let’s just start right there.
It was a surprisingly short, yet blindingly intimidating process that I’m ultimately beginning to forget even took place, now only a few months into living in Switzerland. The theme of my 2018, I’m realizing, is three words: Things go on. If you have a fight with your partner, or you move away from your birth country, or you get sick in said birth country and write a sub-par blog post (ahem, sorry everyone); life moves onward, unfazed. If enough time passes between the end of the world(now) and six months from that, when everything’s great again, you can read these words and agree; instead of rolling your eyes and telling me to go hug a tree (I see you over there). Over the course of three months, from May to August of this year, I sold and donated about 90% of my belongings, and moved in with Sharon, forfeiting what I thought to be my dream apartment at the time. It had taken me nearly eight years of strolling by Sterling Court on foot or by car, gazing enviously up at the hundred-year-old iron grates on the balconies or the birds nesting in the huge trees that shaded the red brick buildings below them. An old factory turned apartment complex. Très chic.
Almost as soon as C and I got an apartment there; a newly-renovated, one-bedroom, top-floor-overlooking-the-courtyard-with-a-big-ass-balcony apartment, not six months later it was time to leave. My pepper plants were all starting to bear fruit, but each one of them found a new home. Two went to Cheyenne, who has reported back to me that he is becoming a spicy food junkie. The blindingly hot, brilliant orange tabasco peppers hurt him, but he just can’t keep from eating one after the other.
But now, here I am: our bedroom window is a door leading to a balcony that wraps around our apartment, big enough for the garden I will plant next spring. Snow has started to fall on the Alps, perfectly framed in nearly every window. The water of Lac Leman shines crystalline in the late fall sunlight. The trees have begun to change color to sepia tones and green mixed with bronze. I have a bidet. This is my dream apartment.

There have been several times this year that felt like the end of the world: C lost his job at the start of the year, the news earning me my very first bout of acid reflux from holding in my stress, trying to hide my anxiety from my obviously struggling housemate. If time has taught me anything about Allie Farris, it’s that I require an outlet for my emotions: I slept upright for weeks, working through a few bottles of Pepto and antacids, waiting for the cauldron inside me to finally fizzle out.
My restaurant, Tartufo, closed. After nearly two years of playing restaurant gigs in Nashville, and six months after landing the best gig in town (five nights a week, three hours each night of any music I wanted to play, on a grand piano in one of the nicest restaurants in Nashville, paid with dinner), Tartufo shut its doors unexpectedly on a Wednesday night. I drank expensive Scotch and sang one final song, before packing up my equipment and heading back home to a waiting C, who bolstered me.
Jerry refused to pay me. After dozens of hours, perhaps days worth of work with the promise of payment, it became crystal clear that Jerry did not intend to compensate me for the tunings I had performed for his clients, and in the name of Nashville Piano Rescue. For the first time in my life, I was out two grand: an insurmountable total from which only a recent past version of myself would have gotten the spins. At the behest of my fiancé, I did not give up, instead venturing into downtown Nashville to the Davidson County courthouse, an unexplored jungle into which a goody-two-shoes like me would have never dared travel. After so long, and so many twists and annoying turns this year (I’d write a blog update about it, but I worry it would only frustrate you), I think I may just get my money after all.
A writing partnership, as well as a life-changing opportunity, died out. This one, there’s not much to say: I wrote my heart out with a friend, and like a few other writing partners I’ve had in my 9 years of living in Nashville, this too met its end. It was an arrow that never had the speed or direction to reach its mark. I’m sad for that; I thought at the time that this possibility, the potential placement of one of our songs on a million-dollar album, would have solved all of mine and C’s problems for the foreseeable future. But it didn’t come together. And look; I’m still here.
Lastly, C got his job in Switzerland, and left the next week. I’m frankly surprised that this affected me less than the losing of the job earlier in the year, but the entire process of him leaving, and me eventually moving here was a slow burn. Over three months apart, and a seven-hour time difference, yet at that point, it just felt like another hill I had to climb. So many hard tours, so many disappointments, and so many years spent waiting and anticipating the next thing down the pike had led me to this. It’s not to say I feel at peace now, or I’m able to follow this zen way of thinking all the time; I’m awful at this, and forget constantly (hence 50 posts, some of which get embarrassingly redundant). But after this year of writing to you, I do feel more weathered, like the calloused cover of my old, worn leather journal resting on the desk in my studio. My face is still as clean and bright as I can keep it, but inside I feel tanned, and more solidified than I did just 9 months ago.

So, going forward, I have only a few favors to ask of you:

Now that I have a bit more time here in my new home, please be patient with me as I figure out my daily writing ritual. You can still expect at least one entry to come every week, but the posting schedule might be off kilter for a few weeks until I figure out how fast I write. If I chip away at an entry for an hour a day, who knows; I might get a few out a week once I really get going.

Please share this with anyone you think might like it. Shameless plug, but the more people I know are reading it, the more fun it is to write.

Leave comments or send me a private message/email if you so desire. If you’re mean, don’t expect an answer. If you’re nice, expect a new friend.

Thank you for being there with me for 50 reasons. I’m excited to share 50 more with you, and keep plodding away towards my goals, despite, or in the name of, my big teeth.